This course introduces the science and management of water, soil, and Earth’s environment. A unifying theme is that consumption of non-renewable resources inevitably leads to resource exhaustion and sometimes dire environmental consequences. We will consider the origins of water and dirt and explore basic concepts behind the greenhouse effect. From there we will dive into all aspects of water and water resources, from the hard science of the hydrologic cycle to the policy issues that are central to water resources management. This will require us to consider both the evidence for and implications of future changes in climate, building on lessons from long-term (geologic) records and recent indicators of human-induced changes. From there, we will shift focus to the very earth beneath our feet—exploring how soil forms from rock, how we use soil, and how it affects us, with emphasis on natural hazards (e.g., landsliding) and the (mis)management of soil as a resource. We end with hope-filled discussion of how to feed a burgeoning human population without destroying the fine planet on which it so desperately relies. Prerequisites: none.
This is a 4-credit, upper-division undergraduate course in environmental data analysis. It focuses on scientific uncertainty and experimental design and is well suited to graduate students doing research in the earth, environmental, and biological sciences. It also fulfills one of the core curriculum requirements in the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources major and serves as one of three options for the second required math course in the Geology and Geophysics major. This course requires a strong background in math and a strong interest in scientific research and data analysis. That means you need to have received a grade of C or higher in STAT 2050 or STAT 2070 or MATH 2200. In addition, you need to have junior or higher status with the Registrar and you must have completed at least one upper-division (3000-level or higher) course in the natural sciences or resource management. (Students who do not meet these requirements will be forced to drop the course.) In this course, we will explore the fundamentals of environmental data analysis. Topics include: the quantitative display and description of data; uncertainty propagation; statistical significance and power; t-tests; analysis of variance; fitting functions to data; environmental time series data; serial correlation; multiple regression; outliers; and optimal sample collection strategies.
orGEOL 4760/5760 Rates and Timescales of Surface Processes
In this three-credit course, we explore methods for quantifying rates and timescales of surface processes. We will focus on the systematics of cosmogenic isotope accumulation and decay during exposure, erosion and burial of rock, soil and sediment at or near Earth’s surface. We will also delve into applications of detrital thermochronology for tracking rates of surface processes and U-series disequilibrium dating of weathering timescales. Finally, we will consider optically stimulated luminescence, fallout radionuclides, and approaches used to quantify short-term processes (to be determined as time permits and by consensus of student interest). Students will hone quantitative problem solving skills and develop a broad (and, on several topics, deep) body of knowledge in quantifying rates of surface processes over a range of timescales. This course features a mix of instructor-driven lectures on fundamentals and student-driven discussion of literature from both classic and cutting-edge research. Prerequisites: GEOL 2150 or GEOG 3010 or GEOL 4880 and MATH 2205 and CHEM 1020 and PHYS 1100.