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Graduate-level Geophysics Syllabi


Course Title

Spring 2019
Fall 2019
Spring 2020
Fall 2020
Spring 2021
Fall 2021
Groundwater Flow/Transport
Reflection Seismology
Digital Signal Processing
Computational Seismology
Seismic Wave Propagation
Reservoir Modeling
Global Seismology II
Inverse Theory
Global Seismology
Engineering & Environmental Geophysics
Introduction to Geostatistics
Seismic Data Processing
Exploration/Applied Geophysics

Please contact the instructor directly for the latest syllabus if they are not available in the above list. Some syllabi may be older examples and not necessarily reflect current course policies.

*Fundamentals of Research 5020 is required for all graduate degrees.

Geophysics PhD and MS Degree Requirements

MS in Geophysics: 26 credits of >4000 level UW coursework are required. To fulfill this: take the 5 credits of required department courses; take four required Geophysics classes (12 credits); pick two other geophysics courses (6 credits). In addition, 3 more credits are required in geology, geophysics, mathematics, and physics. Finally, four credits of dissertation research are required.

PhD in Geophysics: 72 credits of >4000 level UW coursework are required. To fulfill this requirement: take Department required courses (5 credits); take 9 geophysics courses (27 credits) out of our 13 geophysics courses listed above. The rest of the credits are a mixture of dissertation and other course work (geology, geophysics, mathematics, physics). Up to 24 credits of appropriate MS course work maybe transferred from a prior degree.

Course work (credits)
MS **
PhD ***
Quantitative courses required *
Geophysics courses required

* Quantitative courses include seismology, physics, mathematics, and engineering courses.

Fundamental Required Courses

GEOL 5210 Reservoir Characterization (joint School of Energy Resources course): Dr. Mallick and Dr. Chen
This course is fundamentally designed for graduate and senior undergraduate students who would like to develop a practical understanding of the usage of seismic data in characterizing hydrocarbon reservoirs and or monitoring the carbon-sequestrated reservoirs/aquifers. Basic theory along with practical hands on exercises with real seismic data using commercial and internally developed software packages will be covered throughout the course.

GEOL 5216 Global Seismology: Dr. Dueker
This course covers the first half of the Global Seismology textbook which includes: derivation of the 1-D vibrating string, the infinitesimal tensorial stress-strain relations, derivation of linear wave equation, derivation of wave scattering at interfaces, derivation of Rayleigh and Love wave solutions, standing versus traveling wave formulations, anisotropy, and attenuation. The class observational aspects includes and study of wave propagation in the spherical geometry of the Earth and source physics.

GEOL 5217 Geodynamics:   Dr. Cheadle
This course examines the fundamental physical processes necessary for the understanding of plate tectonics and a variety of other geological phenomena. It provides a solid grounding for future study and research covering plate tectonics, stress & strain, elasticity, isostasy & the flexural strength of the lithosphere, gravity, and thermal processes.

GEOL 5210 Signal Processing: Dr. Chen
This course is primarily concerned with processing digital signals using linear, time-invariant systems. Digital signal processing (DSP) has found extensive applications in geophysics and this course covers the basic principles of the methods used in analyzing digital signals for geophysical applications. The primary goal of this course is two-folded: (1) to introduce signals, systems, their time- and frequency-domain representations and the associated mathematical tools that are fundamental to all DSP techniques; (2) to provide a working knowledge of the design, implementation and analysis of digital filters.

GEOL 5215 Inverse Theory: Dr. Dueker
This course uses the Parameter estimation and Inverse problems textbook. An introduction to linearized discrete inverse theory is provided. This theory is prevalent in all the sciences that measure data and have adequate physical models. The fundamental objects of inverse theory are studied such as vector spaces, matrix invertibility, singular value decompositions, Bayesian viewpoints, covariance and resolution matrices. Programming in the MATLAB language is required.

GEOL 5446 Introduction to Geostatistics: Dr. Zhang
This course uses the course notes developed by the instructor, supplemented with reading assignments. Geoscientists routinely face interpolation problems when analyzing spare data from field observations. Geostatistics has emerged as an invaluable tool for characterizing and estimating spatial phenomena. In this class, both the basic principles of geostatistics and its practical applications in the geosciences will be presented. Topics include Ordinary Kriging, Co-Kriging, and stochastic simulations (unconditional and conditional). Exercises and homework problems can be solved by hand, using Excel, MATLAB or a geostatistical software package.

Advanced Wave Propagation and Imaging courses

GEOL 5210 Inverse Scattering: Dr. Chen
The problem of non-destructive imaging of the structure inside a body based on observations made on some boundary of the body is encountered in many branches of applied science such as seismic prospecting, medical imaging, oceanography, material science and archeology. The approaches to solving the imaging problem are as diverse as the physical settings mentioned above. This course is confined to methods that involve the introduction of waves propagating inside the body. These waves, in turn, scatter from irregularities present inside the body and are subsequently recorded on its boundary. This type of imaging problem has been successfully treated as an inverse problem based on wave equations. In this course I will present the basic theory and the implementations of inverse-scattering imaging in acoustic seismic exploration, ultrasound medical imaging and synthetic-aperture-radar remote sensing.

GEOL 5210 Computational Seismology: Dr. Chen

GEOL 5210 Seismic Wave Propagation: Dr. Mallick
This course is primarily for graduate students intending to specialize in seismology. Theory of seismic wave propagation in anisotropic medium will be covered in detail. As exercises, students will not only require deriving certain computational algorithms, but they will also require developing computer programs and implement those algorithms. At the end of the course, students will learn how to compute wave-equation based synthetic seismograms for anisotropic medium.

Geohydrologic courses

GEOL 5444 Geohydrology:  Dr. Zhang
This course uses the course notes developed by the instructor, supplemented by Groundwater Science by Charles Fitts. It provides an introduction to the basic principles of groundwater hydrology, including fluid and porous media properties, hydrostatics and hydrodynamics, Darcy’s law in homogenous and heterogeneous media, aquifer system analysis, mass balance analysis, groundwater flow equations and their solutions with classical analytical methods (e.g, Thiem solution, Theis solution, superposition of flow solutions in space and time). Most exercises and homework problems can be solved by hand, using Excel, or write small MATLAB codes.

GEOL 5010 Groundwater Flow and Transport Modeling: Dr. Zhang
This course uses the course notes developed by the instructor. Movement of groundwater in the subsurface is responsible for a variety of environmental, engineering, and geological processes of interest including heat transfer and solute transport. To evaluate them, mathematical modeling provides an essential quantitative tool. In recent years, increasing reliance is placed upon using computer simulations to make predictions of flow and transport in the subsurface, thus familiarity with the fundamental principles behind modeling is critical. This course presents an overview of the analyses of groundwater flow and solute transport using numerical modeling. The Finite Difference Method will be introduced as well as direct and iterative linear algebra solution techniques. Exercises and homework require programming with MATLAB (alternatively, Fortran or C language can be used).

Contact Us

Department of Geology and Geophysics

1000 E. University Ave.

Laramie, WY 82071-2000

Phone: 307-766-3386

Fax: 307-766-6679


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