Physical Processes in Geology (4) An in-depth examination of various physical processes that operate within and at the surface of the earth.
GEOSC 203 Physical Processes in Geology (4)
Geoscience 203 applies basic principles from physics and mathematics to explore and understand the Earth and the processes that operate within the Earth and at the Earth’s surface. The course includes the study of Earth’s gravity and magnetic fields, focusing on how they reveal the internal structures and dynamics related to plate tectonics. The basic physics and mathematics of plate motions are also explored in some detail. We will also examine the elastic properties and behaviors of rocks, which form the basis for understanding seismic waves, rock fracture, and fault slip. The next major topic of the class is the flow of heat through the solid Earth system, involving the study of conduction, convection, and advection. The study of heat will provide the basis for understanding the application of simple differential equations with boundary conditions to geological processes; this will also introduce the mathematics of diffusion, which will permeate much of the course. This study of diffusion will enable us to move from steady state conditions to non-steady state conditions that typify most geological settings. We will examine the fluid dynamics relevant to the flow of the mantle and less viscous fluids at the surface such as lava flows and glaciers. The fluid dynamics will also lead us into an exploration of the basic physics of ocean circulation, stream flow, and erosion on land.
Throughout the course, students will learn how to use calculus and very simple computer programming in MATLAB to provide a quantitative framework for understanding the physical processes that shape the Earth. The class involves a weekly lab that involves several field trips to make measurements using a variety of geophysical instruments to solve problems related to gravity, stream flow, and heat flow. Other lab activities involve studies of rock friction and fracture, ocean currents, glacial flow, seismology, and plate motions.
General Education: None
Bachelor of Arts: None
Effective: Spring 2011
Prerequisite: GEOSC 001 or permission of program. Prerequisiste or concurrent:PHYS 211, MATH 140
Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.