This course covers the application of geology to all interactions between humans and the earth. It is intended as an introductory Geology course specifically designed for Environmental Studies majors, majors in the Environmental Geology track, and all students who would like to be introduced to the basics of geology in the context of real environmental issue.
An understanding of surficial processes is critical to understanding the interaction of man and his environment, and of predicting the deleterious effects of converting rainforest to cow pasture, of straightening out the course of a meandering river, or of building on a steep hillslope or in karst terrain. In addition, an understanding of the connection between modern processes and modern deposits is essential to deciphering the geologic record. This course explores the link between process, landform and deposit. We systematically consider fluvial (river), glacial, slope, eolian, weathering, and karst processes; the landforms that they produce and the deposits that are left behind. The lab component of the course is spent in the field measuring landforms, describing deposits, and collecting samples to be analyzed in the laboratory. Students are required to process their field data, make graphs and interpret their results in 5 written and oral reports. The course is writing intensive (WAC). In addition, we read and discuss 5 published articles and each student is required to present one of these articles to the class.
This course combines both a traditional lecture format with a field-oriented lab component. In the latter, students conduct a 10-week-long field mapping project, the objectives of which are to determine the configuration of two main lobes of the Laurentide Ice Sheet (LIS) in eastern New York State and to determine whether these lobes were in-phase or out-of-phase with one another. Spectacular outcrops within one hour of campus provide the laboratory for addressing each of the above objectives. Till deposited from the two lobes can be distinguished on the basis of carbonate content, PSD of the matrix, magnetic susceptibility, till fabric, and clast lithology. With till fabric measurements, these provenance data are critical for determining paleo-glacier flow directions. Students work in teams to describe stratigraphic sequences, measure till fabric and striae, and conduct clast lithology counts. At the end of each lab, all data are shared among the students who are then required to plot their data and write three major laboratory reports.
Lakes and Environmental Change
Modern limnology and the record of environmental change as recorded in lake sediments. Includes records from proglacial lakes in North America, and interpretation of proxy paleoenvironmental indicators preserved in lake sediments from North America, Europe, and the Southern Hemisphere.
Global Climate Dynamics
Climate change has become one of the key scientific issues of our time. This course examines climate change on different time scales (years to millions of years), and focuses on the causes of climate change, both natural and anthropogenic. We also explore the role media has played in shaping public opinion on climate change. Lectures explore the principle scientific aspects of climate dynamics, and the laboratories investigate some of the major scientific findings that support the conclusions presented in consensus scientific reports that shape the geopolitical dialogue.
Impacts of Climate Change-Peruvian Andes
This field-based course is focused on the geologic record of climate change preserved in glacial deposits and lakes in the majestic Cordillera Blanca, Peru. A closely related focus will be to understand the impact of climate change on human populations. We will travel to Peru, where we will be based out of the city of Huaraz. From there, we will conduct day-long to week-long excursions to map moraines, core lakes, and evaluate the impact of climate change on geologic hazards and on the ever-increasing human occupation in this alpine setting. Students will participate in mapping projects, lake coring expeditions, and documenting stratigraphic sequences in natural exposures.