GEOL 105 - Earth Lab
Planned Offering: Spring
Prerequisite for Spring 2013: First-Year standing only. The emphasis and location of the study area differs from year to year. Most course activity involves outside field work with a series of multi-day to multi-week field trips. The primary goal of this course is an in-depth introduction to a particular region or field of geological study for introductory level science students. Information about the course is made available prior to the end of the fall term. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different but only four credits may be used toward major requirements.
Spring 2013 topic:
GEOL 105-01: FS: Earth Lab: Sand (4). First-Year seminar. Inaugural Jockey John Robinson Seminar. Prerequisite: First-Year standing. Sand is everywhere. It is between our toes at the beach, sweeping beneath us in rivers, and blown against us in stinging desert storms. And yet, this ubiquitous, ordinary substance tells incredible stories of plate tectonic upheavals, vast seas covering now-dry continents, and journeys through rivers, into inland deserts, and along ocean shores. This field-based seminar explores the origin and nature of sand, its journeys, and how geologists use observations in modern environments along with detailed microscopic and field descriptions to define the conditions of landscapes long past. Participation requires camping on eastern barrier islands, travel to the Colordao Plateau of Utah, and a healthy imagination. All expenses are covered by the Jockey John Robinson Fund. (SL) Harbor.
GEOL 105-02: Earth Lab: Is the Earth Worth ‘Saving’? (4). Seminar. Prerequisite: Instructor consent. Students must be comfortable in water deeper than wading depth for long periods of time (floating, treading water, and swimming). Can we 'save the earth'? What does that really mean? In the context of geologic time, many of the recent changes we see in our earth system and environment seem remarkably small, if sometimes more rapid, than in the past. This course explores both the humbling existence of humans in deep time (4.6 billion years) and the potentially profound impacts of humans on the earth environment. We consider whether it is the earth or only ourselves that we wish to 'save'. Throughout this course, we learn how rocks reveal a deep and rich history of changing climate and environment with time. We then compare this record with what we know about human-influenced climate and environmental change in the last few hundred years, and reflect on what, if anything, we should do with this information. We evaluate the effectiveness of efforts to 'protect' the environment, specifically with regards to marine protected areas. This seminar involves extensive field exploration of the geology of Rockbridge County and a four-day trip to the Florida Keys, to visit a coral reef. (SL) Greer.
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