Spring 2015

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EOS 1305. Environmental Geology and Hydrology.
An introduction to aspects of geology and hydrology that affect the environment and land use. Topics include lakes, watersheds and surface-water quality, groundwater contamination, coastal erosion, and/or landslides. Weekly labs and fieldwork examine local environmental problems affecting Maine’s rivers, lakes, and coast. Students complete a community-based research project.
EOS 1505. Oceanography.
The fundamentals of geological, physical, chemical, and biological oceanography. Topics include tectonic evolution of the ocean basins; deep sea sedimentation as a record of ocean history; global ocean circulation, waves, and tides; chemical cycles; ocean ecosystems and productivity; and the oceans’ role in climate change. Weekly labs and fieldwork demonstrate these principles in the setting of Casco Bay and the Gulf of Maine. Students complete a field-based research project on coastal oceanography.
EOS 2165. Mountains to Trenches: Petrology and Process.
Exploration of the processes by which igneous rocks solidify from magma (e.g., volcanoes) and metamorphic rocks form in response to changes in pressure, temperature, and chemistry (e.g., mountain building). Interactions between petrologic processes and tectonics are examined through a focus on the continental crust, mid-ocean ridges, and subduction zones. Learning how to write effectively is emphasized throughout the course. Laboratory work focuses on hand sample observations, microscopic examination of thin sections, and geochemical modeling.
EOS 2325. Environmental Chemistry.
Focuses on two key processes that influence human and wildlife exposure to potentially harmful substances—chemical speciation and transformation. Equilibrium principles as applied to acid-base, complexation, precipitation, and dissolution reactions are used to explore organic and inorganic compound speciation in natural and polluted waters; quantitative approaches are emphasized. Weekly laboratory sections are concerned with the detection and quantification of organic and inorganic compounds in air, water, and soils/sediments.
EOS 2365. Coastal Processes and Environments.
Coasts are among the most densely populated and dynamic components of the earth system, with forms that reflect the interplay among sediment delivery, reshaping by waves and coastal currents, changes in land subsidence and/or sea levels, and human interventions. Understanding these processes and how they may change is a first step toward reducing risk and developing resilient coastal communities. Examines coastal environments (e.g., deltas, barrier islands, beaches, salt marshes), the processes that shape them, and underlying controls. Considers impacts of climate change and sea-level rise on coastal erosion and flooding, and trade-offs involved in human responses to such “wicked problems.”
EOS 2525. Marine Biogeochemistry.
Oceanic cycles of carbon, oxygen, and nutrients play a key role in linking global climate change, marine primary productivity, and ocean acidification. Fundamental concepts of marine biogeochemistry used to assess potential consequences of future climate scenarios on chemical cycling in the ocean. Past climate transitions evaluated as potential analogs for future change using select case studies of published paleoceanographic proxy records derived from corals, ice cores, and deep-sea sediments. Weekly laboratory sections and student research projects focus on creating and interpreting new geochemical paleoclimate records from marine archives and predicting future impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on marine calcifiers.
EOS 2540. Equatorial Oceanography.
The equatorial ocean is a region with virtually no seasonal variability, and yet undergoes the strongest interannual to decadal climate variations of any oceanographic province. This key region constitutes one of the most important yet highly variable natural sources of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere. Explores how circulation, upwelling, biological activity, biogeochemistry, and CO2 flux in this key region vary in response to rapid changes in climate. Particular emphasis on past, present, and future dynamics of the El Niño Southern Oscillation. In-class discussions are focused on the primary scientific literature.
EOS 3020. Earth Climate History.
The modern world is experiencing rapid climate warming and some parts extreme drought, which will have dramatic impacts on ecosystems and human societies. How do contemporary warming and aridity compare to past changes in climate over the last billion years? Are modern changes human-caused or part of the natural variability in the climate system? What effects did past changes have on global ecosystems and human societies? Students use environmental records from rocks, soils, ocean cores, ice cores, lake cores, fossil plants, and tree rings to assemble proxies of past changes in climate, atmospheric CO2, and disturbance to examine several issues: long-term carbon cycling and climate, major extinction events, the rise of C4 photosynthesis and the evolution of grazing mammals, orbital forcing and glacial cycles, glacial refugia and post-glacial species migrations, climate change and the rise and collapse of human civilizations, climate/overkill hypothesis of Pleistocene megafauna, climate variability, drought cycles, climate change impacts on disturbances (fire and hurricanes), and determining natural variability vs. human-caused climate change.
EOS 3115. Research in Mineral Science.
Minerals are the Earth’s building blocks and an important human resource. The study of minerals provides information on processes that occur within the Earth’s core, mantle, crust, and at its surface. At the surface, minerals interact with the hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere, and are essential to understanding environmental issues. Minerals and mineral processes examined using hand-specimens, crystal structures, chemistry, and microscopy. Class projects emphasize mineral-based research.
EOS 3140. Tectonics and Climate.
Exploration of the complex interactions between tectonics and climate. Discussion of current research is emphasized by reading primary literature, through class discussions and presentations, and by writing scientific essays. The emphasis on current research means topics may vary, but include: the rise of continents, the evolution of plate tectonics on Earth over the last 4.5 billion years, ancient mountain belts, supercontinents, the record of earth system processes preserved in the geologic record, predictions of how the modern earth system will be recorded in the future rock record, the topographic growth of mountain belts, and Cenozoic climate change.