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University Bulletin

Undergraduate Degree Programs

Geosciences (GEOSC)

GEOSC 010 (GN) Geology of the National Parks (3) Introduction to geology, geological change, and environmental hazards, as seen in the National Parks.

GEOSC 010

GEOSC 010 Geology of the National Parks (3)
(GN)

(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.

"Geology of the National Parks" uses the unsurpassed features of national parks to address the key questions of geology and the environment. Each topic is introduced with a virtual field trip to a specially chosen national park (involving pictures of the park, a brief history, other highlights of the park, with supplemental materials and links provided on-line). Key questions about the park (Why has Death Valley been getting wider? Why is much of Mt. St. Helens spread across neighboring states?) then motivate discussion of the topic (here, the spreading or squeezing associated with drifting continents), with special attention to implications for humans (for example, predicting earthquakes and volcanic eruptions associated with these features). A suite of exercises provides the opportunity for analytical experience during walking field trips of local geology, quantitative analysis of geological data, written evaluation of library-based information on national parks, and collaborative on-line assessment of geological hazards. Readings are primarily drawn from an on-line text prepared especially for the course, with links to appropriate national-park sites, but readings also include additional technical literature. There are no prerequisites for the course. It is offered twice yearly at University Park, with enrollment fixed by available classroom space (recently, 300 in the spring and 400 in the fall). The goals of the course are to help students learn how certain common-sense ideas allow science to be such a successful human endeavor, that the Earth efficiently but slowly recycles almost everything, that the Earth's environment has been nearly balanced for very long times, that human-induced changes are among the fastest Earth has ever experienced, and that the National Parks are critical but challenged living laboratories, museums, and repositories of biodiversity. In doing so, the students will see the applications to real-world problems of related fields including physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics, and will develop a greater appreciation of these other subjects. Students will be challenged to reason from data to generalizations, and from these generalizations back to cases, through in-class discussion, exercises (approximately 1/4 to 1/3 of the total grade), and examinations (primarily objective). Owing to the large enrollment, in-class time will be devoted to virtual field trips, discussion and lecture, but with much effort to encourage participation from the students. Activities out of class will focus on exercises and on the extensive web resources developed in collaboration with the e-Education Institute of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.


General Education: GN
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: Natural Sciences
Effective: Fall 2003

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.