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Department of Geology and Geophysics|People

Riebe Lab - Courses

Typically offered in Fall:

GEOL/ENR 1500 Water, Dirt and Earth’s Environment


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.


Typically offered in Spring:

GEOL 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.


GEOL 4200/5200 Environmental Data Analysis


In development. This is a 3-credit, upper-division course in the analysis of environmental data. It is dual listed for undergraduate and graduate students and is notable for its treatment of experimental design and is well suited to graduate students in the earth, environmental and biological sciences. The standard minimum requirement for enrollment in Topics in Geology (4200 series) courses is 20 credit hours in geology. In this course, it is strongly recommended that students also have a strong background in math and physics and a strong interest in scientific research. In terms of course numbers, this means you need to have taken MATH 2200 and PHYS 1110. If you have not taken these courses (or their equivalents), this course will be over your head.

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