GEO 2203 -- New Course

Tue Dec 8 11:10:20 2009

Approvals Received:
on 12-01-09
by Kathy Ohler
Approvals Pending: College/Dean  > Catalog
Effective Status: Active
Effective Term: 1113 - Spring 2011
Course: GEO 2203
UMNTC - Twin Cities
UMNTC - Twin Cities
Career: UGRD
College: TIOT - Institute of Technology
Department: 11130 - Geology & Geophysics
Course Title Short: Earth Surface Dynamics
Course Title Long: Earth Surface Dynamics
Max-Min Credits
for Course:
4.0 to 4.0 credit(s)
Earth's surface processes, drivers, and implications - interactions between the atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere
Print in Catalog?: Yes
CCE Catalog
<no text provided>
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Topics Course: No
Honors Course: No
Delivery Mode(s): Classroom
Contact Hours:
3.0 hours per week
Years most
frequently offered:
Every academic year
Term(s) most
frequently offered:
Component 1: LEC (with final exam)
Component 2: LAB (no final exam)
Progress Units:
Not allowed to bypass limits.
4.0 credit(s)
Financial Aid
Progress Units:
Not allowed to bypass limits.
4.0 credit(s)
Repetition of
Repetition not allowed.
for Catalog:
<no text provided>
No course equivalencies
No required consent
(course-based or
No prerequisites
Editor Comments: <no text provided>
Proposal Changes: <no text provided>
History Information: <no text provided>
Sponsor Name:
Katsumi Matsumoto
Sponsor E-mail Address:
Student Learning Outcomes
Student Learning Outcomes: * Student in the course:

- Can identify, define, and solve problems

Please explain briefly how this outcome will be addressed in the course. Give brief examples of class work related to the outcome.

Problem solving skills will be strengthened through a variety of interdisciplinary hands-on and computer-based lab activities that emphasize the linkages between various Earth systems. For example, in the ¿Daisyworld¿ lab, the students will use computer software to study interactions between the atmosphere, biosphere that regulate Earth¿s climate.

How will you assess the students' learning related to this outcome? Give brief examples of how class work related to the outcome will be evaluated.

Laboratory performance will be evaluated on the student¿s ability to learn the initial concepts through directed learning and then apply those concepts to hypothetical scenarios and open-ended exercises. Lecture and laboratory exam and quiz questions will also ask the students to interpret observations, scenarios, and data that will require an understanding of Earth surface processes and the techniques employed to investigate them.

Liberal Education
this course fulfills:
Other requirement
this course fulfills:
Criteria for
Core Courses:
Describe how the course meets the specific bullet points for the proposed core requirement. Give concrete and detailed examples for the course syllabus, detailed outline, laboratory material, student projects, or other instructional materials or method.

Core courses must meet the following requirements:

  • They explicitly help students understand what liberal education is, how the content and the substance of this course enhance a liberal education, and what this means for them as students and as citizens.
  • They employ teaching and learning strategies that engage students with doing the work of the field, not just reading about it.
  • They include small group experiences (such as discussion sections or labs) and use writing as appropriate to the discipline to help students learn and reflect on their learning.
  • They do not (except in rare and clearly justified cases) have prerequisites beyond the University's entrance requirements.
  • They are offered on a regular schedule.
  • They are taught by regular faculty or under exceptional circumstances by instructors on continuing appointments. Departments proposing instructors other than regular faculty must provide documentation of how such instructors will be trained and supervised to ensure consistency and continuity in courses.

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Criteria for
Theme Courses:
Describe how the course meets the specific bullet points for the proposed theme requirement. Give concrete and detailed examples for the course syllabus, detailed outline, laboratory material, student projects, or other instructional materials or methods.

Theme courses have the common goal of cultivating in students a number of habits of mind:
  • thinking ethically about important challenges facing our society and world;
  • reflecting on the shared sense of responsibility required to build and maintain community;
  • connecting knowledge and practice;
  • fostering a stronger sense of our roles as historical agents.

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Writing Intensive
Propose this course
as Writing Intensive
Question 1: What types of writing (e.g., reading essay, formal lab reports, journaling) are likely to be assigned? Include the page total for each writing assignment. Indicate which assignment(s) students will be required to revise and resubmit after feedback by the instructor or the graduate TA.

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Question 2: How does assigning a significant amount of writing serve the purpose of this course?

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Question 3: What types of instruction will students receive on the writing aspect of the assignments?

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Question 4: How will the students' grades depend on their writing performance? What percentage of the overall grade will be dependent on the quality and level of the students' writing compared with the course content?

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Question 5: If graduate students or peer tutors will be assisting in this course, what role will they play in regard to teaching writing?

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Question 6: How will the assistants be trained and supervised?

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Question 7: Write up a sample assignment handout here for a paper that students will revise and resubmit after receiving feedback on the initial draft.

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Course Syllabus
Course Syllabus: For new courses and courses in which changes in content and/or description and/or credits are proposed, please provide a syllabus that includes the following information: course goals and description; format;structure of the course (proposed number of instructor contact hours per week, student workload effort per week, etc.); topics to be covered; scope and nature of assigned readings (text, authors, frequency, amount per week); required course assignments; nature of any student projects; and how students will be evaluated. The University "Syllabi Policy" can be found here

The University policy on credits is found under Section 4A of "Standards for Semester Conversion" found here. Course syllabus information will be retained in this system until new syllabus information is entered with the next major course modification. This course syllabus information may not correspond to the course as offered in a particular semester.

(Please limit text to about 12 pages. Text copied and pasted from other sources will not retain formatting and special characters might not copy properly.)

Earth Surface Dynamics

Spring 2011 Course Syllabus

Lectures:         Tues. & Thurs. xx:xx ¿ yy:yy am in Pillsbury Hall Room 110

Instructors:         Jake Bailey (, Katsumi Matsumoto (, Chris Paola (, and Martin Saar (

All are professors in the Dept. of Geology and Geophysics.  Bailey is a geobiologist, Matsumoto is an oceanographer, Paola is a sedimentologist, and Saar is a hydrogeologist.

Office hours:         By appointment but feel free to stop by during regular working hours

Website:         WebVista via MyU Portal (

Reading Materials:
        (1) Kump, Kasting, and Crane, The Earth System, Pearson Prentice Hall
        (2) Allen, P. A. Earth Surface Processes, Blackwell
        (3) Additional readings on E-Reserve or their links provided in class

Grading:         Homework 50%, Midterm 10%, Final Exam 20%, Labs 20%

Final Exam:        May xx, day, time (place=regular classroom)

Welcome to the Earth Surface Dynamics!  This course will explore the interactions and implications of geological, biological, chemical, and physical processes that shape the dynamic evolution of Earth¿s surface environment.  In particular, this course will follow the cycling of water, carbon, and sediments through the atmosphere, land, and ocean.  For example, the interaction of rain water falling on land will promote chemical weathering of rocks, which removes CO2 from the atmosphere.  The sediments and water, along with carbon in dissolved and particulate forms, will then make a long journey towards the ocean in rivers, lakes, and groundwater, as they continue to interact with the atmosphere and climate.  Various physical and biogeochemical processes will impact this journey and alter the surface environment.  This includes the formation of soils, erosion and deposition of sediments, exchange of carbon with the atmosphere, and transport of water and dissolved constituents underground.  Upon reaching the ocean, some sediments and carbon are reworked and deposited along the coast, while some are transported to the deep ocean.  Impact of geomicrobiology is seen in virtually all environments, including those with extreme pH conditions.  The course concludes by examining how different linkages among geological, chemical, biological, and physical cycles maintain the Earth surface environment and how that environment has changed in the past and may evolve in the future.

A Core Course of the Earth Sciences Degree:
This course is part of the sequence of core courses for the BS degree in Earth Sciences.  In particular, this is envisioned as a sophomore course and the second in the series of three ¿dynamics¿ courses.  The first and third courses are the Solid Earth Dynamics and the Fluid Earth Dynamics.

Learning outcomes:
At the end of this course successful students will be able to:
¿        understand processes that shape the Earth¿s surface
¿        understand how linkages among geochemical, biological, and physical cycles maintain the Earth-surface environment
¿        understand how the Earth-surface environment has responded to change in the past and how it may change in the future

If there is a conflict in time with another university activity, the student needs to notify one of the instructors before the quiz/exam is administered in order to be allowed to make it up without penalty.  Sickness and family emergency are also acceptable reasons for penalty-free makeups, but this will need to be communicated without delay.  Otherwise, a makeup can be given within a week of the missed quiz/exam with a 25% penalty.

Lab and Discussion Sessions:
Every week there is a lab or discussion session according to the schedule as listed below.  Some are computer-based labs, while others are hands-on and geomicrobiological or sedimentological.  More details are given in a separate lab manual.

Homework is meant to reinforce what you¿ve been exposed to in class and will be due one week after it is assigned.  Homework will lose 10% of grade per day late.

Attendance and Etiquette:
Regular attendance is expected.  Cell phones must be switched off.

Academic integrity:
Academic integrity is essential to a positive teaching and learning environment. All students enrolled in University courses are expected to complete coursework responsibilities with fairness and honesty. Failure to do so can result in disciplinary action.  The University Student Conduct Code defines scholastic dishonesty, which includes plagiarizing; cheating on assignments or examinations.  A student responsible for scholastic dishonesty can be assigned a penalty including an "F" or "N" for the course.

Disabilities statement:
It is university policy to provide, on a flexible and individual basis, reasonable accommodations to students who have disabilities that may affect their ability to participate in course activities or to meet course requirements.  Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact the professor.

Final course grades will be ¿curved¿ (i.e., not based on absolute scores).  As a rough guide, the top third of the class will get A¿s, the next third B¿s, and the last third C¿s.  Students with scores significantly lower than the bulk of the last third may receive D¿s or F¿s.

Class notes:
Some class lectures will be posted on the web.

Lecture Schedule:
Week        Dates        Topics (instructor)        Reading        Lab
1        1/18
1/20        Introduction and course logistics (all)
The interior-exterior connection: Tectonics and surface processes (JB)       
2        1/25
1/27        Atmospheric circulation and temperature profile (KM)
Blackbody radiation and the greenhouse effect (KM)         1
3        2/1
2/3        El Nino and interannual variability (KM)
Water transport in the atmosphere (KM)        2
4        2/8
2/10        Rainfall and surface water (MS)
Surface water-groundwater interaction (MS)         3
5        2/15
2/17        Groundwater flow systems (MS)
Microbial effects in groundwater (JB)        4
6        2/22
2/24        Soil and other terrestrial carbon (JB)
Wetlands and methane (JB)        5
7        3/1
3/3        Rivers and sediment transport (CP)
Fluvial landscapes (CP)        6
8        3/8
3/10        Glacier dynamics (Guest: Ito)
Glacial landscapes (Guest: Jennings)        7
9        3/15
3/17        Spring Break       
10        3/22
3/24        Coastal processes and sedimentation (CP)
Ocean circulation; Temperature, salinity, and density (KM)        8
11        3/29
3/31        Ocean circulation: atmosphere-ocean interaction (KM)
Water masses and biogeochemical tracers in the ocean (KM)       
12        4/5
4/7        Deep-marine sedimentation (KM)
Carbon cycle: photosynthesis and heterotrophy (JB)        10
13        4/12
413        Carbon cycle: Chemosynthesis (JB)
Carbonates and CO2 (KM)        11
14        4/19
4/21        Atmosphere-ocean-land carbon cycle (KM)
Organic and inorganic carbon in rocks (JB)       
15        4/26
4/28        Synthesis week 1: Tectonics, CO2, and climate through time (all)       
16        5/3
5/5        Synthesis week 2: Earth-surface environment in the Anthropocene (all)       

17        Final Exam       
JB=Bailey :7
KM=Matsumoto :10
CP=Paola :3
MS=Saar :3

1.        Geomicrobiology Set-up Winogradsky column and begin exploring thermodynamics with Thermodyne 1
2.        Local weather ¿ analysis of local weather data
3.        Greenhouse effect ¿computer analysis of selective absorption of IR spectra
4.        Gaia¿s Daisyworld ¿computer analysis of climate feedbacks
5.        Groundwater flow and Darcy¿s law in a sand column
6.        Water flow in streams: Stream lab at SAFL
7.        Sediment transport lab at SAFL
8.        Lake sediment lab ¿ examination of a lake core from UM LacCore facility
9.        Biogeochemical box modeling ¿ basic modeling involving fluxes, reservoirs, isotopes
10.        Sea level change ¿ computer analysis of topographic data and digital elevation
11.        Geomicrobiology - Winogradsky column observations and Thermodyne 2