GEOS - Geosciences

GEOS 101 Earth Processes and the Environment with Laboratory

Geologic processes both rapid (earthquakes and landslides) and slow (mountain building and sea level rise) are intimately linked with sustaining the diversity of life on the planet. This course examines processes linked with the flow of energy and mass between the atmosphere, geosphere, and biosphere. Laboratory exercises, field trips, and a semester-long research project provide authentic experiences to develop the skills needed to observe and model processes shaping our environment. Problem solving in small groups during class time fosters critical thinking and classroom debates between larger teams focus on research and communications skills by examining current issues in geosciences such as building and removing dams, and the science surrounding global climate change.

Instructor

Brabander

Prerequisites

Fulfillment of the basic skills component of the Quantitative Reasoning requirement. Not open to students who have taken ASTR 120 or a 100-level GEOS course.

Unit(s)

1.25

Semesters Offered

Fall

Degree Requirements

NPS, QRF

GEOS 108 The Dynamic Earth with Field Laboratory

The Earth is a dynamic planet where change is driven by processes that operate within its interior and on its surface. In this course we study these processes, in the context of Earth systems, and how they influence our daily lives. Topics covered include the origin and history of the Earth, plate tectonics, deep time, reading the rock record, earthquakes and volcanoes, hydrology, landscape evolution, and global climate.  The laboratory component of the course will be a field trip to the southwestern USA, conducted over spring break, giving students the opportunity to learn in one of the world’s premier outdoor geological classrooms.  The trip is mandatory and requires payment of an additional fee (approximately the cost of airfare). Contact Professor Hawkins for details.

Instructor

Hawkins

Prerequisites

Open to first years and sophomores only. Not open to students who have taken ASTR 120 or a 100-level GEOS course. Fulfillment of the basic skills component of the Quantitative Reasoning requirement.

Unit(s)

1.25

Semesters Offered

Spring

Degree Requirements

NPS, LAB

GEOS 102 The Dynamic Earth with Laboratory

The Earth is a dynamic planet where change is driven by processes that operate within its interior and on its surface. In this course we study these processes as well as interactions between the solid earth, the hydrosphere, the atmosphere, and the biosphere that together produce the environment we live in and influence our daily lives. Topics covered include the origin and history of the Earth, plate tectonics, deep time, the materials that make up the solid earth, the distribution of earthquakes and volcanoes, hydrology, landscape evolution, and global climate. Laboratory exercises, project work, and local field trips provide hands-on opportunities to develop key concepts and hone observational and analytical skills.

Instructor

Besancon, Monecke

Prerequisites

Fulfillment of the basic skills component of the Quantitative Reasoning requirement. Not open to students who have taken ASTR 120 or a 100-level GEOS course.

Unit(s)

1.25

Semesters Offered

Fall, Spring

Degree Requirements

NPS

GEOS 120 Planetary Habitability: Past, Present, Future with Laboratory

Overall, Earth is a pretty fine place to live. But how did it get this way, and will it always be so nice? We will explore Earth’s place in the Universe in both space and time, focusing on processes that led to the Earth as we know it. We then will examine cosmic, geologic, and human processes that are altering our planet at a time when humans have become change agents on a global scale. This interdisciplinary, studio-style course features two long blocks per week with hands-on activities including group work, discussions, and projects with non-traditional assessment tailored to individual student goals. There will be opportunities for nighttime telescopic observing along with field trips to rock outcrops that preserve evidence of a very different early Earth climate.

Instructor

Brabander, McLeod (Astronomy)

Prerequisites

Open to first years and sophomores only. Fulfillment of the basic skills component of the Quantitative Reasoning requirement. Not open to students who have taken a 100-level ASTR or GEOS course.

Cross Listed Courses

ASTR 120

Unit(s)

1.25

Semesters Offered

Fall

Degree Requirements

NPS, MM

GEOS 200 Evolution of Earth Systems through Time with Laboratory

The geologic record, covering 4.6 billion years, provides us with a long-term perspective of the Earth system and how it operates over time scales much longer than human history. In this class we will explore Earth's eventful past, including periods of mountain building, sea level variations, dramatic climate changes, and the evolution and extinction of life on our planet. This class should give us an understanding about deep time and that we live on an ever changing planet. Lab exercises using Wellesley's extensive rock and fossil collection, local field trips during lab periods, and a weekend field trip will give us an opportunity to reconstruct past geological environments.

Instructor

Monceke

Prerequisites

Any 100-level GEOS course.

Unit(s)

1.25

Semesters Offered

Spring

Degree Requirements

NPS

GEOS 201 Environmental, Health, and Sustainability Sciences with Laboratory

Problems in environmental, health, and sustainability sciences are inherently transdisciplinary and require a diverse skill set to frame, analyze, and solve. This course will focus on developing a toolbox of skills including systems level thinking, field and analytical methods, biogeochemical analysis (natural waters, soils, and other environmental materials), and modeling with a goal of building a science-based foundation for the analysis of complex issues at the interface between humans and the environment. Students will conduct semester-long research projects and will present their results in a final poster session.

Instructor

Brabander

Prerequisites

Enrollment limited to students majoring in ES and GEOS, other students by permission of instructor.

Cross Listed Courses

ES 201

Unit(s)

1.25

Semesters Offered

Not Offered

Degree Requirements

NPS

GEOS 203 Earth Materials with Laboratory

An introduction to the materials—minerals, rocks, magmas, sediments—that make up the Earth, and how those materials influence the processes that operate within and on the surface of the Earth. Emphasis is placed on the geological, chemical, and physical basis for understanding the physical properties and chemical composition of minerals, magmas, rocks, and sediments, and the processes by which these materials form. Lecture and laboratory sessions are integrated to create a seamless, studio-style setting for active-learning experiences.

Instructor

Hawkins

Prerequisites

Any 100-level GEOS course.

Unit(s)

1.25

Semesters Offered

Spring

Degree Requirements

NPS

GEOS 208 Oceanography

The Earth is an ocean planet. Covering 71 percent of the Earth's surface and holding 97 percent of the Earth's water, the oceans are perhaps our planet’s most distinctive feature. This course will address fundamental questions about the oceans such as, why do we have oceans and ocean basins? Why do we have ocean currents? How have the interactions among physical, chemical, and biological processes produced the ocean we have today? Why should we strive to learn more about the oceans, and what are the links between the oceans and Earth’s climate? In-class exercises, case studies, and data analysis will emphasize fundamental oceanographic processes and problem solving skills. A mandatory field trip to the coast will allow students to explore coastal processes in action.

Instructor

Besancon

Prerequisites

Any 100-level GEOS, ES, or BISC course, or permission of the instructor.

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Spring

Degree Requirements

NPS

GEOS 210 Hydrogeology: Water and Pollutants with Laboratory

Clean water supply is a high priority for both developed and underdeveloped communities worldwide.  Limits to supply and their implications for an increasing population make a clear understanding essential for citizens.  Water sources and movement of water from the atmosphere through the earth’s surface and subsurface will be examined.  Laboratory will include field and laboratory analyses of physical and chemical properties and pollutant issues of local community supplies including the Wellesley campus, and Towns of Wellesley, Natick, and Norwell. 

Instructor

Besancon

Prerequisites

Any 100-level GEOS course, or permission of the instructor.

Cross Listed Courses

ES 210

Unit(s)

1.25

Semesters Offered

Fall

Degree Requirements

NPS, MM

GEOS 213 Planetary Geology

Spacecraft observations have revealed a breathtaking diversity of geologic features in the solar system, from ancient river valleys on Mars and violent volcanic eruptions on Io to ice fountains on Enceladus and the complex surfaces of comets and asteroids. From a comparative point of view, this course examines the formation and evolution of the planets and small bodies in the solar system. Topics will include: volcanism, tectonic activity, impacts, and tides.

Instructor

Watters (Astronomy)

Prerequisites

Any 100 level course in ASTR or GEOS, or by permission of instructor. High school physics recommended.

Cross Listed Courses

ASTR 203

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Spring

Degree Requirements

NPS

GEOS 218 Geomorphology with Laboratory

The Earth’s surface is constantly changing and is controlled by the interaction of topography and climate. In this class we will investigate the major landforms that can be found on Earth’s surface, the processes that have shaped them, the delicate balance between landform and process, and the rates of geomorphic change. Among other processes, we will explore glacial activity, coastal processes, landslides, and stream flow. Topographic maps, surveying equipment, and geographic information systems (GIS) will be used to analyze and interpret geomorphic features. A variety of landforms will be studied during outdoor lab exercises and during a weekend field trip.

Instructor

Monecke

Prerequisites

Any 100-level GEOS course.

Unit(s)

1.25

Semesters Offered

Not Offered

Degree Requirements

NPS

GEOS 220 Volcanoes and Volcanism with Laboratory

Volcanic eruptions provide insights into the inner workings of planet Earth and impact the environment.  In this course we will examine volcanic landforms, eruptions, products and hazards, as well as, the tectonic causes of and the magmatic processes that drive volcanism.  We will also explore the impact of volcanism through time on the earth and ecosystems. Lecture and laboratory sessions are integrated to create a seamless, studio-style setting for active-learning experiences.  Given sufficient student interest, the course will be supplemented by an optional field trip to a recently active volcanic system during fall break.

Instructor

Hawkins

Prerequisites

Any 100-level GEOS course.

Unit(s)

1.25

Semesters Offered

Fall

Degree Requirements

NPS

GEOS 223 Planetary Atmospheres and Climates

Have you wondered what Earth's climate was like 3 billion years ago? What about weather patterns on Titan and climate change on Mars? In this course, we'll explore the structure and evolution of atmospheres and the climate on four worlds: the Earth, Mars, Venus, and Saturn's moon Titan. We'll examine the techniques and tools that geologists use to learn about the history of Earth's climate and that planetary scientists use to learn about the atmospheres and surface environments on other worlds. Students will also gain experience simulating the climate system and computing atmospheric properties. Other topics include: the super-rotation of Venus's atmosphere and its Runaway Greenhouse climate, the destruction of atmospheres on low-gravity worlds, and the future of Earth's climate as the Sun grows steadily brighter.

Instructor

Watters (Astronomy)

Prerequisites

Any 100 level course in ASTR or GEOS, ES 101 or by permission of instructor. High school physics recommended.

Cross Listed Courses

ASTR 223

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Not Offered

Degree Requirements

NPS, MM

GEOS 238H Field Geology in the Southwestern USA

The southwestern United States is one of the world's premier geologic classrooms, providing the opportunity to study recently active volcanic complexes, active and ancient fault systems, sedimentary rocks deposited in a variety of environments over the last 700 million years, folded and faulted rock sequences, complexly deformed metamorphic rocks, and a modern landscape shaped by tectonic, isostatic, fluvial, alluvial, eolian and glacial processes. In this course students will broaden and deepen their understanding of geological principles, processes and reasoning through first-hand field work in California and Nevada. They will learn basic field methods, as well as how to pose geological questions and construct geological arguments while interpreting key portions of the long and complex geologic history of the North American continent. 


Instructor

Hawkins

Prerequisites

Any 100-level GEOS course and permission of the instructor.

Unit(s)

0.5

Semesters Offered

Winter

Degree Requirements

NPS

GEOS 250 Research or Individual Study

Prerequisites

Permission of the instructor.

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Fall, Spring

Degree Requirements

None

GEOS 250G Group Research and Group Study

Prerequisites

Permission of Instructor

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Fall, Spring

Degree Requirements

None

GEOS 250H Research or Individual Study

Prerequisites

Permission of the instructor.

Unit(s)

0.5

Semesters Offered

Fall, Spring

Degree Requirements

None

GEOS 301 Analytical Methods for Geological Materials with Laboratory

Minerals, rocks, and water carry a history which we may extract by the identification and detailed study of their chemical and physical properties. We will learn to select and use a variety of modern analytical tools, including sample selection and preparation, analysis by emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES) and ion chromatography (IC), x-ray diffraction, infrared and Raman spectroscopy, electron microscopy, and electron probe microanalysis on a nearby geological system. Basic x-ray crystal structure determination will be introduced.

Instructor

Besancon

Prerequisites

One course at the 200 level in Geosciences or Chemistry, or permission of the instructor

Unit(s)

1.25

Semesters Offered

Not Offered

Degree Requirements

NPS

GEOS 304 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy with Laboratory

Sediments and sedimentary rocks cover most of the Earth's present surface. Sedimentology encompasses the study of the origin, transport, deposition, and lithification of sedimentary rocks and is critical to accurate interpretation of the geologic rock record. Observations of modern sedimentary processes illuminate past environments; sedimentary strata record evidence of mountain building and seismic activity, glacial advances and paleoclimate cycles, and preserve the fossil record. Natural resources including groundwater, coal, and petroleum are found in sedimentary rocks. Society is impacted by sedimentary processes in popular human habitats including coastlines and flood plains. Readings and discussions build students' familiarity with topics such as sediment transport, stratigraphy, and modern and ancient depositional environments. A semester-long project, laboratory exercises, and weekend field trips emphasize field methods, rock identification, and data collection, analysis, and interpretation.

Instructor

Monecke

Prerequisites

GEOS 200, GEOS 203, or permission of the instructor.

Unit(s)

1.25

Semesters Offered

Fall

Degree Requirements

NPS

GEOS 350G Group Research and Group Study

Prerequisites

Permission of Instructor

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Fall, Spring

Degree Requirements

None

GEOS 313 Advanced Planetary Geology

This course meets with ASTR 203/GEOS 213 (see description) and on alternate Wednesdays for additional instruction and seminar-style discussions exploring special topics in planetary geology. Students will read and discuss journal articles and advanced texts, and will produce a final project that involves an in-depth treatment of a topic of their choosing. Possible topics include: space weathering on the Moon, giant impacts and basin formation, alteration of igneous rocks on Mars, tectonics on Venus, models of planetary interiors, spacecraft instrumentation and remote sensing techniques, and landscape evolution on Titan.

Instructor

Watters (Astronomy)

Prerequisites

Must satisfy prerequisites for ASTR 203/GEOS 213 and have taken at least one of the following: PHYS 107, GEOS 203, GEOS 218, GEOS 220. Not open to students who have taken ASTR 203/GEOS 213.

Cross Listed Courses

ASTR 303

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Spring

Degree Requirements

NPS

GEOS 315 Environmental Geochemistry with Laboratory

This course introduces geochemical approaches, including mass balance, residence time, isotope fractionation, and thermodynamic and kinetic modeling necessary to track the flow of materials in key earth surface reservoirs including water, soil, and plants. This geochemical toolbox will then be used to analyze complex earth systems including the linkages between tectonics and climate change and the fingerprinting of anthropogenic pollutants in the built environment. In lab a semester-long analytical geochemical research project is designed and executed in small groups.

Instructor

Brabander

Prerequisites

One course above the 100 level in two of the following disciplines: GEOS, CHEM, BISC or ES; or permission of the instructor.

Unit(s)

1.25

Semesters Offered

Spring

Degree Requirements

NPS, MM

GEOS 316 Paleoseismology

Recent earthquake and tsunami events dramatically highlight the vulnerability of human populations and infrastructure to seismic hazards. Only a thorough understanding of the frequency and magnitude of such events will enable local communities to prepare for future disasters. The rapidly evolving field of paleoseismology tries to answer such questions as: Where do earthquakes occur? How large might they be? How frequent are they? In this seminar-style class we will discuss literature to examine primary and secondary earthquake-induced deformation in various geologic archives and under different stress regimes. Through exercises and research projects students will learn techniques to assess the seismic hazard and to prepare threatened communities.

Instructor

Monecke

Prerequisites

Any 200-level GEOS course, or permission of the instructor.

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Not Offered

Degree Requirements

NPS

GEOS 318 Tectonics and Structural Geology with Laboratory

This course is an overview of the relationship between plate tectonics and rock deformation. Students will explore and discover the descriptive, kinematic and dynamic analysis of deformed rocks and the theoretical treatment of stress and strain, rock rheology and other factors that control deformation. Lecture and laboratory sessions are integrated to create a studio-style, project-based learning experience. Classroom learning will be supplemented by two Saturday field trips and one weekend field trip that emphasize fundamental field methods, such as measuring and mapping rock units and geologic structures. The field trips are mandatory.

Instructor

Hawkins

Prerequisites

GEOS 200, GEOS 203, or permission of the instructor.

Unit(s)

1.25

Semesters Offered

Not Offered

Degree Requirements

NPS

GEOS 323 Advanced Planetary Atmospheres and Climates

This course meets with the lecture in ASTR 223/GEOS 213 (see description) and at a third time (to be decided first day of class) for additional instruction, group work, and seminar-style discussions exploring special topics in planetary atmospheres and climates. Students will read and discuss journal articles and advanced texts, and will produce a final project. The final project can involve (a) investigating a problem in planetary climatology using a research-grade climate simulator; (b) building an instrumented probe to mount on a balloon or quadcopter to measure properties of the lower atmosphere; (c) conducting an analysis of publicly-available atmospheric observations; (d) a substantial paper that investigates a proposed planetary mission or long-term terraforming project.

Instructor

Watters (Astronomy)

Prerequisites

Must satisfy prerequisites for ASTR 223/GEOS 223 and have taken PHYS 107 or by permission of instructor. Not open to students who have taken ASTR 223/GEOS 323.

Cross Listed Courses

ASTR 323

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Not Offered

Degree Requirements

NPS, MM

GEOS 350 Research or Individual Study

Prerequisites

Permission of the instructor. Open to juniors and seniors.

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Fall, Spring

Degree Requirements

None

GEOS 360 Senior Thesis Research

Prerequisites

Permission of the department.

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Fall, Spring

Degree Requirements

None

GEOS 370 Senior Thesis

Prerequisites

GEOS 360 and permission of the department.

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Fall, Spring

Degree Requirements

None
RELATED

Departments and Programs