Credit hours: 3
GEC categories: Natural Science: Physical Sciences
|Parks and Plates: The Geology of Our National Parks, Monuments, and Seashores||Robert J. Lillie||W.W. Norton & Co||0-393-92407-6|
Course Objectives: This course provides a basic introduction to the principles and methods of Earth Science, using the National Parks to illustrate geologic processes at work in our planet. It fulfills the learning objectives of the GEC Natural Science requirement.
Learning Objective 1: Students explain and recall the basic facts, principles, theories and methods of modern earth science, including: the structure of the earth; principles of plate tectonics; composition of and interrelationship among earth materials; geologic time; hazards such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions; weathering and erosion processes; controls on global climate; and sustainability issues.
Learning Objective 2: Students describe and explain the significance of key events in the geological, hydrological, atmospheric and biological history of the earth, as recorded in the National Parks.
Learning Objective 3: Students will be able to discuss the inter-dependence of scientific and technological developments in measuring and modeling physical and chemical aspects of the earth and environment.
Learning Objective 4: Students will explain the ways in which aspects of earth science impact society. Students should be able to describe the relationship between science and societal decision-making pertaining to natural hazards, natural resources, global climate and human sustainability.
Course Content: “Geology of the National Parks” is designed to provide students with an overview of geologic processes as recorded in our national parks. Concepts to be explored include: geologic time scale, plate tectonics, the rock cycle, weathering and erosion, volcanism, earthquakes, and the formation of mountains. The course content is divided in 5 modules. Module I (Weathering Processes) introduces the combination of processes that break up solid rock, eventually transforming it into sediment. Showcased in this module are National Parks in which weathering and erosion of siliciclastic sedimentary rocks are central to the formation of its features. Module II (Carbonate Deposition – Caves and Reefs) discusses weathering, erosion and deposition processes in environments dominated by carbonate rocks (such as limestones and dolostones). Module III (Continental & Alpine Glaciation) introduces parks and geological features produced by the action of moving ice (glaciers). Module IV (Volcanic Activity and Processes) discusses the formation of volcanoes and magma, as well as the products of volcanic activity. Showcased in this module are parks where volcanism is the central process behind the development of its features. Module V (Orogenesis – Mountain Building) will discuss Earth’s internal processes and the tectonic forces involved in the formation of complex mountains, as well as weathering and mass wasting processes shaping these landscapes.
Method of Presentation: PowerPoint lectures, Google Earth exercises, reading and video quizzes online (on Carmen).
Method of Evaluation: The following are the course assignments and their contribution to your final grade:
1. Google Earth Project = 20% of final grade 2. Weekly reading quizzes = 15% of the final grade 3. Weekly video quizzes = 15% of the final grade 4. Mid-term exam = 20% of final grade 5. Final exam = 30% of final grade