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Course Descriptions

EOS 0001 - The Dynamic Earth

Welcome to an exploration of the planet Earth! During the fall term we will "travel" virtually to spectacular geological localities across the continent and around the globe

Our goal will be to learn about the basic principles of geology and about learning itself. We will sharpen our powers of observation in the canyons and mountains of our national parks and will develop hypotheses which can explain the origin of the rock and mineral formations we observe. We will test our hypotheses in whatever ways this rather large, bulky earth allows. In short, we will use basic scientific methods to unravel the history of our dynamic earth and will try to predict the changes we can expect the earth's crust to undergo in the future. One might call this geologic problem solving or "Geologic Logic".

We also will explore the origin and occurrence of our energy resources (coal, oil, and natural gas) and both metallic and nonmetallic mineral resources. Earthquakes along the San Andreas fault in California, as well as volcanic eruptions in Yellowstone Park, Crater Lake, and Mt. St. Helens will lead to an understanding of global geologic processes.

We hope these explorations challenge you to think in new ways about natural processes, scientific methods, environmental issues, and, in particular, about the dimension of geologic time and the relationship of human beings to the framework of geological time and space.

EOS 1 is designed for students who are fulfilling the science requirement, but also is relevant and useful as a related field to many disciplines. In addition, a significant number of students take EOS 1 as a free elective.

No prerequisites.

EOS 0002 - Environmental Geology

Environmental geology is an introduction to geologic environments and the processes that shape and modify Earth's surface. Of particular interest are the roles of water, ice, wind, and gravity and their effects in materials and climates. These modern surficial processes strongly influence humans and their ability to live and interact with their surroundings. They also provide us with much of the evidence for interpreting the recent as well as ancient geologic past and to predict the changes we can expect Earth to undergo in the future.

Specific topics covered in environmental geology include an overview of earth materials, groundwater, and processes of the hydrologic cycle. Also considered from a geological and human perspective are weathering and erosion, landslides, river systems, shorelines, marine sedimentary environments, glacial systems, and climatic environments ranging from arid to periglacial (cold climate). The past history of Earth is deciphered in terms of the evolution of the world ocean, climate, and sea level change over geologic time, and the activity of modern and ancient glaciers.

The course has three lectures plus one lab period per week. Laboratories include three field trips in the Boston area to investigate local sedimentary rock sequences, glacial deposits, and modern coastal environments.

No prerequisites.

EOS 0005 - Introduction to Oceanography

The vastness and depths of the world ocean have intrigued and challenged people for millennia. Yet only recently have marine scientists begun to understand the complexities of oceanic systems. The ocean is not only an important resource for humans, it is a critical link in the earth's atmospheric, climatic, and ecologic structures. This course will emphasize the delicate balance and interrelations of oceanic processes with many of these other global systems.

The oceanography course will begin with a survey of the plate tectonic processes which form the rocks and surface features of the sea floor. A large part of the remainder of the course will deal with the chemical, physical, biological, and geological aspects of the sea water and sediments within this "bowl" of basaltic sea floor. Waves, tides, surface and deep-ocean currents, ocean- atmosphere interactions, organisms and their communities such as reefs, and sediment deposition on the continental shelf, slope, and rise are examples of topics that will be addressed.

Also, discussed will be the influence of human activity on coastlines, the problems of pollution, and political boundaries that have been set up for various parts of the ocean.

No prerequisites.

EOS 0011 - Mineralogy

Minerals and crystals have been prized since the dawn of civilization. Egyptian tomb paintings depict smelting of ores and trading of malachite and precious metals, as well as the fashioning of emerald and lapis gemstones. Crystals of quartz were thought to possess special protective and healing powers, beliefs which currently are being revived by mystics, mineral buffs, and mineral dealers.

The science of mineralogy developed over the past 300 years and seeks to understand the relationship between the external physical properties of minerals and the internal atomic structures. It deals with field assemblages of minerals as constantly changing geochemical systems within the earth's crust and is fundamental to a full understanding of most disciplines in geology. Virtually all rocks, sediments, soils, and solid earth and planetary materials are composed of minerals, giving mineralogy numerous applications in archaeology, engineering, oceanography, and astronomy.

The mineralogy course begins with a study of the symmetry of natural crystals and the relationship between crystal forms and the internal atomic symmetry of minerals. As the semester progresses, we will examine a variety of physical and chemical properties which are useful for mineral identification. Students will learn to use the polarizing microscope to identify minerals no larger than a grain of sand and will learn the theory behind X-ray diffraction and fluorescence, emission spectroscopy, and other methods of mineral analysis. By the end of the term, students will have a broad appreciation and understanding of the nature, origin, and occurrence of the most important economic and rock-forming minerals.

The laboratory emphasis is on hand specimen and microscopic identification of minerals and crystals; field recognition of minerals will be one of the major goals of the semester. These field and lab techniques will be directly applicable in: EOS 12 (Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology); SedimentologyEOS 42 (Sedimentology and Stratigraphy); Geology Summer Field Camp.

Prerequisites: EOS 1 and Chem 1 (may be concurrent, with permission of instructor)

EOS 0012 - Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology

The history of our planet is recorded in the igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks that formed throughout the development of the earth. In these rocks we find the evidence for ancient volcanic eruptions, shallow inland seas, and extensive mineralogical and structural changes which occurred deep beneath the earth's surface.

EOS 12 is the study of the igneous and metamorphic rocks and the processes which form them. Together, these rocks comprise 95% of the earth's crust and are exposed over approximately one-third of the continental land masses.

Petrology begins with a review of the classification of igneous rocks, followed by a study of the field occurrences, mineralogy, textures, compositions and origins for the major extrusive and intrusive rock associations. As the semester proceeds, experimental evidence is evaluated which can shed light on the origin and crystallization of magmas. During the second half of the term, metamorphic rocks, processes, and structures are considered from a field, laboratory, and experimental perspective. Igneous and metamorphic rocks and processes are considered at all scales, from global plates, mountain ranges, large outcrops, and hand-samples, through microscopic and submicroscopic observations. Laboratory work emphasizes hand sample and microscopic analysis of rocks and rock suites, often in the context of their natural field occurrences. Field identification and interpretation of igneous and metamorphic rocks will be one of the major goals of the course. Weather permitting, we will visit several igneous and metamorphic rock localities late in the semester.

Prerequisite: EOS 0011

EOS 0015 - Mass Extinctions: The Past, Present, and Future of Biodiversity

Extinction is the inevitable fate of all species. However, the pace of extinction over geological time has not been steady. Earth's history is punctuated by intervals of rapid species loss, so-called mass extinctions. Since animals first evolved nearly 600 million years ago, there have been five major mass extinctions. In this course, we will explore the historical development of mass extinctions as a concept; compare and contrast the roles of volcanism, meteorite impacts, global warming, ice ages, and the evolution of novel species in causing mass extinctions; analyze the effects of mass extinctions of biodiversity and ecosystem structure; and attempt to answer the question "Are we in the midst of the 6th mass extinction?".

This is a seminar course in which very few lectures will be given by the instructor. The bulk of your learning will take place through reading and discussing scientific papers. Discussions will be student-led and every student will be required to be a discussion leader at least once. In addition to comparing and contrasting the causes and consequences of the major mass extinction, you will learn how to read a technical scientific article, become familiar with paleobiological data, and learn the methods used to study ancient biodiversity and events in Earth's history.

Prerequisite: EOS 0001 or EOS 0002 or BIO 0014.

EOS 0022 - Structural Geology

Deformation of the earth's crust occurs on all scales, from microscopic crystal lattice dislocations to huge structures such as the San Andreas Fault that are hundreds of kilometers long. This course will address different aspects of structural analysis, with the ultimate goal of understanding structures in hand samples and outcrops as well as the regional and tectonic significance of structurally deformed rocks.

The structure course is organized into three major sections and will begin with methods of evaluating the strain or deformation in rocks. Quantification of stretching or compression of geologic structures will be undertaken through geometrical construction, as well as measurement and calculation. The array of structures that can occur in rocks, including folds, faults, joints, and cleavage, will be discussed in the second section of the course. Structural information from folds, for example, can be gleaned from many characteristics, such as the fold orientation and relative thickness of limbs and hinges. The last section will be concerned with dynamic analysis of structures, the orientations and magnitudes of stresses that produced deformation. Finally, the tectonic context of structures will complete the semester.

Projects and problem sets will emphasize techniques for structural study and interpretation.

Prerequisite: EOS 0001

EOS 0032 - Geomorphology

Geomorphology is the study of landforms and the processes which build and erode the surface features of Earth. The morphology of Earth's surface is influenced by the composition and structure of rocks and soils, the earth's internal and external geological processes, and also the effects of time. The relationship of these factors to the evolution of Earth will be examined in different terrains and climatic regimes around the world. We will also examine how surface processes vary in a single region over time as a result of changing climate and tectonic activity. Of particular interest will be the processes of extreme climates in the tropics, arid regions, and periglacial (cold) environments.

A major goal of the course will be to develop an understanding of how to reconstruct the history of an area from relict surface deposits and features. Unifying theories on the development of landscapes will also be discussed in relation to the concept of equilibrium and modern plate tectonic theory.

The geomorphology course will include field trips and projects that examine different landforms and processes in New England, including weathering, soil development, river terraces and channel migration, sea level changes, mass movement, and wind activity. The course includes a mapping project in the Connecticut Valley of New Hampshire where students are introduced to surficial geologic mapping, the description of stratigraphic sections, and the formulation of past events from field data.

Prerequisite: EOS 0002

EOS 0038 - Historical Geology and Paleontology

One of the fascinating aspects of the Earth's history is the rich and varied life forms that have inhabited our planet for the past 3.5 billion years. Organisms with hard shells and skeletons that could easily be preserved as fossils first appeared about 570 million years ago. As time passed, these early life forms multiplied and diversified into a great variety of plants and animals, many of which would flourish and then die out, and others which continue to inhabit the earth up until the present day. The fossil record provides a means of tracing the evolution and extinction of many groups of organisms, and also supplies information about their ecology and community structures. This course will cover aspects of the taxonomy and description of the major fossil groups, evolutionary trends, and paleoecology, within the context of the geological development of North America.

Prerequisites: EOS 1 and 2, or consent

EOS 0042 - Sedimentology and Stratigraphy

Sediments and sedimentary rocks form a thin veneer enveloping the earth, and reveal a wealth of information about modern and ancient tectonic, climatic, and oceanographic processes. The principles of sedimentology applied to observations and interpretations of modern sediments allow geologists to decipher and model ancient depositional environments and controls on sediment accumulation. Stratigraphy encompasses the study of how these depositional environments change in time and space. We will use information gathered from sedimentary rocks to unravel the dynamics of environments and how they record events such as mountain-building episodes, sea level changes, extinctions, and the splitting apart of continents at rifts.

In this course, we will examine the major types of sediments and how strata are arranged in depositional basins. Topics covered will include rock description and classification, water and wind as transport agents, provenance and biogenic sources of sediment, and statistical analysis of grain parameters, such as size, sorting, and roundness. The identification and interpretation of sedimentary structures as clues to depositional environments will be an integral part of the course. We will also consider what happens to sediment after it is deposited, by studying diagenesis - the complex processes by which unconsolidated sediments are transformed into rock. Study of sediments and sedimentary rocks in hand sample and thin section will be supplemented by field trips during the labs to examine rocks in their natural setting.

We will address the types of depositional processes that operate in various marine and continental environments, and we will integrate the tectonic, climatic, and oceanographic processes and events that may lead to changes in the environments. Stratigraphic studies require a detailed record of the timing of sedimentary depositional units. A number of techniques can provide such age constraints, such as isotopic compositions of certain fossils (isotope stratigraphy), radiometric dating of interbedded volcanic units, the pattern of polarity changes recorded in magnetic minerals (magnetostratigraphy), and assemblages of fossils in the strata (biostratigraphy). These methods and others will be studied to resolve sedimentary correlation problems and to evaluate the effects of events such as change in sea level, from one location to another.

Prerequisite: EOS 0002

EOS 0051 Global Climate Change

An introduction to the workings of Earth's climate system to better understand the causes of present and future climate change. Emphasis will be placed on processes that control Earth's modern climate, such as global energy budgets and the behavior of greenhouse gases. Important features of global and regional climate systems such as El Nino South Oscillation will be studied. Having completed the course, students will have a deepened understanding of how and why climate changed in the recent past and the science behind forecasts of future global climate change. Course material will be delivered through lectures and problem-based classroom exercises.

Prerequisites: Students are expected to have some background knowledge of Earth and Ocean Science.

EOS 0052 Paleoclimate

Examination of climate changes that took place on Earth during the last ~4 billion years with a focus on the proxy evidence of those changes and understanding of the mechanisms that caused them. This journey begins with the wrongly perceived "hell" of the Hadean and ends with Quaternary glaciations, the Holocene, the "Hockey Stick", and a glimpse into the near future.

Prerequisite: EOS 51 or consent.

EOS 0091, 0092 - Geological Research

Guided laboratory and field research on one of a broad range of geological topics. Five hours (half-credit option) to ten hours (full-credit option) are required per week, including one hour of consultation with the research supervisor. Final written or oral presentation. Does not count toward the concentration in geology.

EOS 0115 - Quaternary and Glacial Geology

During the last 2.4 million years, often referred to as the "Ice Age", climate has oscillated between extreme warm and cold conditions. In warm periods, alligators migrated as far north as the Ohio Valley, and during cold episodes, continent-sized ice sheets covered most of Europe and North America. What was responsible for the roller coaster climate of the Quaternary and latest Tertiary periods and how do we know about these dynamic conditions of the past?

Quaternary geology is the study of how rocks and sediments of the recent past formed and how we decipher this geologic history. An important aspect of the last 3 million years is the growth of glaciers and how their expansions and contractions are recorded by deposits on land and in the ocean, as well as in the thick piles of snow and ice that are still a part of modern ice caps. Some of the topics that will be discussed are the mechanics and mass balance of glaciers (glaciology), glacial geology (glacial deposits and landforms), techniques for dating Quaternary sediments and fossils, isostatic and sea level changes brought on by expanding and melting ice sheets, and other effects of climatic change in areas near and removed from glaciated regions.

The course will include field trips to Quaternary geological features in the Boston area, as well as excursions to the Connecticut River Valley in New Hampshire and Vermont and the western Mohawk River valley of central New York, where glacial and marine sediments from the last glaciation will be studied.

Prerequisite: EOS 0002

EOS 0131 - Groundwater

This course is all about groundwater hydrology (also known as hydrogeology), the discipline that deals with the occurrence, migration, and development of all subsurface water. It is about the geological environments that control the occurrence of groundwater, and the physical laws that govern and describe the flow of groundwater. It will also address the influence of humans on the natural groundwater environment, and conversely the influence of natural groundwater regimes on water resources development, agriculture, industry, economic sustainability, and engineering infrastructures.

Geologists and engineers use the term "groundwater" traditionally to refer to subsurface water that occurs beneath the water table, within soils, sediments, and rock formations that are fully saturated. This classical definition will be retained for this course and the focus of most lectures, but we will also develop a more comprehensive understanding of subsurface water, from the shallowest water found well above the water table in the unsaturated zone of soils to the deepest water found in brine-saturated aquifers in the Earth's crust.

Groundwater hydrology is interdisciplinary in nature, bridging fields of geology, physics, chemistry, hydrology, and applied mathematics. This course will introduce students to the physical properties of groundwater, the physical laws and theory that govern its movement, the properties of geologic media that control rates of flow and storage, and methods for modeling subsurface flow patterns. Later in the course, the lectures focus on more practical topics, such as methods for groundwater exploration, water-well drilling technology, the hydraulics of pumping wells, aquifer mechanics, and groundwater resource evaluation. Near the end of the course, we examine the role of groundwater in watershed hydrology, geotechnical problems, and geologic processes.

Problem sets will be assigned regularly that involve calculations and use of flow nets, and computer software for predictive modeling purposes will be utilized. The class will also include 1 field trip to study hydrogeology in the field and to see how production wells and piezometers are drilled and completed.

Cross-listed as CEE 0113.

Prerequisites: Intro courses in EOS, physics, and calculus strongly recommended.

EOS 0133 - Field Methods in Hydrogeology

This course will examine a variety of field aspects of geohydrology, groundwater mapping and sampling, aquifer testing, well drilling, monitoring, and instrumentation of boreholes. The course will blend lecture with basic field methods to understand how monitoring and production wells are planned and drilled, and what types of geologic, geophysical, and geochemical data can be gathered for subsurface flow systems. A network of boreholes on the Tufts campus will be used as field sites to characterize subsurface parameters in the unsaturated and saturated zones, and study regional flow in an urban watershed. Each class meeting will include time in the field, collecting observations and geohydrologic data to be quantitatively analysed.

Prerequisites: EOS 2 and Physics 11 or equivalent; EOS 131/CEE113 highly recommended.

EOS 0191, 0192 - Selected Topics

Exploration of special topics in geology through seminars or guided individual study. One-half or one course credit.

EOS 0193, 0194 - Senior Thesis

Intensive laboratory or field investigations designed and carried out by the student, culminating in a written thesis and oral defense.

EOS 0287 - Subsurface Fluid Dynamics

Advanced theory in groundwater hydrology. Topics include: hydrodynamics of groundwater flow; Darcy's Law in porous sediments and fractured rocks; fluid potential; flow nets and hodographs; vorticity of inhomogeneous fluids; physics of the unsaturated zone; two-phase flow in petroleum reservoirs and carbon sequestration; flow in deforming media; aqueous mass transport in reactive formations; fluid and heat transport in geothermal reservoirs.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing.

EOS 0288 - Groundwater Modeling

Numerical analysis of groundwater flow, with applications. Topics include: numerical formulation of the governing equations using finite difference, finite element, integrated finite difference, particle tracking, boundary element, and discrete element techniques; matrix and iterative solutions; algorithms for 1-D, 2-D, and 3-D flow; stability and accuracy; applications using popular USGS software in the public domain. Students will be expected to apply existing Fortran programs for 1-D, 2-D, and 3-D solutions as part of computational laboratory modeling assignments.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing.