In this course, students take advantage of the breadth of their shared experiences in the Geosciences Department from human dimensions to physical sciences, drawing from geography, earth systems science and geology. The platform of the course uses real-world Geoscience problems facing societies and cultures, incorporating the themes of Water, Air, Energy, Climate and Sustainability. Using readings, print and on-line media, students are encouraged to work through the ways in which integration of their diverse educational experiences leads to new levels of understanding. The semester culminates in team-based projects in which students investigate connections between current Geosciences issues, their education in their major and their experience as UMass undergraduates, with structured opportunities for reflection on both their discipline and themselves as life-long scholars. This course satisfies the Integrative Experience requirement for BS-Earth, BA-Geog, BS-Geog, BA-Geol, and BS-Geol majors, as well as a subset of BS-EnvSci majors. For Seniors and Juniors only.
The oceans cover about 71% of Earth's surface and yet the ocean basins are vast regions still shrouded in mystery, where new discoveries are being made every year. In this course, you will be provided with a basic knowledge of how the global ocean works, how it impacts and controls the habitability of our planet, and how vital it is to our very existence. Major topics that will be explored include: 1) the hydrosphere, atmosphere and global climate, 2) ocean circulation, 3) the marine biosphere, and 4) coastal habitats, natural hazards, and human impacts. Through hands-on classroom activities, the notion of scientific thinking and analysis will be investigated. We will discuss how researchers collect data, form ideas, and then test those ideas. A goal of this course is to understand the scientific theories that help us understand Earth processes and history while gaining a holistic view of our integrated geosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and cryosphere. In addition to a broad introduction to the science of oceanography, and the scientific principles upon which it is based, a main focus of this course is on the importance of the ocean in our daily lives.
Basic principles governing the erosion, transport, and deposition of sediments, with applications for understanding both modern sedimentary environments and preserved sedimentary deposits. Prerequisite: one year of geology; introductory calculus course recommended.
Soils are the medium that grows the vast majority of the food consumed world-wide, yet soil erosion diminishes agricultural production and ultimately threatens food security. In the U.S. major uncertainties still exist regarding the rates of soil erosion and soil formation. This research-intensive course will explore soils and soil erosion in the Midwestern U.S., one of the world's most important agricultural landscapes. Students will conduct a semester-long research project. During a pre-semester field trip, students will collect soils and make a variety of field measurements. During the semester, the lab component will be devoted to learning and applying a variety of measurements for characterizing the properties of the soils they collect, and to learning methods for determining rates of soil erosion and soil formation. Classroom sessions will be devoted to a wide range of topics related to agricultural soils, including: the glacial history of North America, soil forming factors, soil erosion processes and prediction, and agricultural policy.
The earth is a dynamic planet, constantly creating oceans and mountain ranges, accompanied by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. This course explores the ideas that led to the scientific revolution of plate tectonics; how plate tectonics provides a comprehensive theory explaining how and why volcanoes and earthquakes occur; and the hazards that they produce and their impact on humans. Emphasis is placed on current earthquake and volcanic events, as well as on momentous events from the past, such as the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, the 79 A.D. eruption of Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii, and the more recent eruptions of Mount St. Helens (Washington), Pinitubo (Philippines) and Kilauea (Hawaii). (Gen.Ed. PS)
The natural processes of the ocean, including earthquakes and volcanoes, the hydrologic cycle and weather, ocean circulation and the global energy balance, the carbon cycle and productivity, biodi-versity and marine food webs, coastal dynamics. Also, global warming, sea-level rise, environmental degradation and the ocean system response to human activity and global change. Interactive class sessions, with considerable participation by students in problem solving, discussions, and demonstrations. Exams and grades based on teamwork as well as on individual performance. Students needing or wanting a laboratory component may register for GEO-SCI 131. (Gen.Ed. PS)
Systematics in mineralogy, includ-ing crystallography, the physics and chemistry of minerals, the genesis of minerals, and determinative methods in mineralogy. Prerequisite: CHEM 111 (or concurrent enrollment) .
With lab. Description and analysis of deformation and deformation processes at scales ranging from minerals to mountain belts. Topics include: faults, folds, construction of cross-sections, interpretation of structural fabrics, stress, strain, plate tectonics, New England geology, and the geologic history of North America. Emphasis on three-dimensional visualization of geologic features and practical solutions to structural problems relevant to industry and research. Several short field trips (during lab) and one weekend field trip. Prerequisites: GEO-SCI 201 and 311.
Knowledge gained through study of the geosciences is essential for the future sustainability of life on our planet. This course explores the intersection of geoscience features and processes with several of humankind?s critical needs: the sustained supply of energy, water, soil and mineral resources; the reliance of land- and ocean-based ecosystem services on underlying geoscience systems; and risk mitigation and resilience building in response to natural and human-made hazards. We will examine the current state of the energy-water-climate-food nexus and predictions for its future to improve understanding of the complex linkages between the geosciences and society. We will also practice quantitative characterization of geoscience datasets such as statistical descriptions of data, model design and hypothesis testing, and the limits of predictions and inferences drawn from real-world data.