Spring 2020 Online Course Offerings - Earth Sciences

Welcome to the Spring 2020 online course guide!
This website is your quick-start guide to Dartmouth Earth Sciences courses that will be offered online during the Spring 2020 academic term.

Ears1 - How the Earth Works (SLA)

  • Instructors : Edward Meyer and Sarah Slotznick
  • This course explores what went into making our planet - from the big bang to the subsequent formation and evolution of Earth.  We will investigate how earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and global climate change are byproducts of our planet's ceaseless activity, and see that these natural forces are essential for creating the conditions necessary for life in all its diversity.  We will learn how to decode Earth's dynamic history by reading the record preserved in rocks, oceans and glaciers.  We will also see that life is not only at the mercy of our planet's natural forces, but since its inception has been an agent of change as well, altering the Earth's land, water, and air faster than many geologic processes.
  • Video Intro 

Ears 3 - Elementary Oceanography (SCI) 

  • Instructors : Xiahong Feng and C. Brenhin Keller
  • Blurb 
  • Video 

Ears 10 - Carbon Sequestration (SCI)

  • Instructors : Mukul Sharma
  • Blurb 
  • Video 

Ears 16 - Hydrology&Water Resources (TAS)

  • Instructors : Carl Renshaw
  • This course focuses primarily on the fundamental processes controlling the movement and analysis of surface water, particularly in streams and rivers.  We will start by considering water resources at the large scale, including investigations into the water resources of Peru, Mono Lake at the base of Yosemite National Park, and the Colorado River.  These case studies demonstrate that managing water resources at the large scale requires understanding of local scale processes. This motivates much of the remainder of the course which will primarily focus on local scale processes that control storm water runoff, stream discharge, flood and drought recurrence, and stream water chemistry.

    Our analyses of local scale processes will be done primarily using Excel.  To help you extrapolate what you learn at the local scale to the regional scale and beyond, this course will introduce you to two platforms for “big data” analyses of hydrological datasets – Google Earth Engine and the RStudio.  The use of these platforms requires some computer coding.  No previous coding experience is required for this class.  We will provide you with the more technical parts of the required code, allowing you to focus on the details of the data you need and how to connect the required analyses to interpret and display these data.

  • Video intro

Ears 33 - ErthSurfaceProcessLandforms (SCI)

  • Instructors : Marisa Palucis 
  • This course is an introduction to geomorphology – the study of the mechanisms that shape the Earth’s surface. Students will learn about river, glacial, hillslope, and wind-driven processes, and the resulting landforms and landscapes they produce. We will also delve into how landscapes respond to and affect tectonics and climate, and the implications for understanding the history of the Earth’s surface and its future. The techniques and tools we use as geomorphologists range from direct observations to chemical, physical, mathematical, and isotopic approaches, all of which we will explore in this course. The processes we discuss are not confined to the Earth, and as such, we will also touch on the geomorphic evolution of other planetary bodies as well. 
  • Video 

Ears 64 - Geophysics (SCI) 

  • Instructors :  Leslie Sonder 
  • Geological methods (mapping and analysis of samples collected at the earth's surface) tell us much about processes occurring near the earth's surface, but very little about deeper parts of the earth. Almost all surface rocks come from depths of no more than a few tens of kilometers, so 99% of the Earth is entirely inaccessible! How can we learn about parts of the Earth to which there is no hope of ever traveling and from which we have no samples? Geophysics gives us the tools. In this course we will learn about  and use the principles of gravity, magnetism, seismology, and heat transfer to "journey to the center of the Earth."  To best appreciate the power of geophysics, you should already have some basic earth science, calculus, and physics (high school courses suffice). Please feel free to email me if you have any questions.

    Our first class meeting will be Monday at the 10 hour (10:10 am) via Zoom. If you are not already signed up, please email me so I can send you a Zoom invitation. Once enrollment is stable, we may move the class meeting time to better accommodate those of you living in time zones west of Hanover.

  • Video 

Ears 70 - Glaciology (QDS)

  • Instructors : Robert Hawley
  • Glaciers and ice sheets are increasingly being recognized as an important driver and also an important indicator of climate change. The goal of this course is for you to experience the unique nature and scientific importance of glaciers, ice sheets, snow, and frozen ground in the Earth system, collectively referred to as the Cryosphere. We will explore how glaciers work, and how they interact with the climate system. We will learn about how ice behaves from the molecular scale, as in your freezer, to the continental scale, as on the great ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland. Closer to home, we will learn about snowpacks, how changes in snowpacks lead to avalanches, and how to spot these changes before an avalanche occurs. We will delve into the scientific literature to see the foundations of the science and also to learn the latest on current events in glaciology. Finally, we will learn practical skills and techniques used by glaciologists to study glaciers and ice sheets. In addition to developing a greater understanding of glaciology, we will also develop transferable skills in advanced quantitative data analysis, including time series analysis and computational modeling of physical processes, with emphasis on practical  application to real data.
  • Video Intro

Ears 72 - Geobiology (SCI) 

  • Instructors : Wil Leavitt 
  • Geobiology is the study of interactions between earth and life over geologic timescales -- is a new and interdisciplinary field that has grown out of exciting advances in the earth and life sciences. During this course, we will examine the many ways in which organisms -- from bacteria to trees -- have left their mark on our planet. Topics include the origin of life, the rise of oxygen in Earths’ oceans and atmosphere, the evolution of biomineralization, the environmental context for animal evolution, the role of microbial metabolism and communities in the earth system, the emergence of land plants, and the potential for planetary/life interactions elsewhere in our solar system. Geobiology utilizes tools and ideas from inorganic/organic geochemistry, isotope geochemistry, paleontology, microbiology, and sedimentology.  
  • Video