Emily Balch Seminar 002: Volcanoes and Society (Fall 2012): The interactions between resource-rich, hazardous volcanic landscapes and human society is long and complex. Volcanoes are difficult to predict, destructive, damaging to infrastructure, vibrant and resource-rich, and important sources of energy. This class will explore the nature and scope of all types of volcanic hazards as well as how we benefit from them: How have they impacted the evolution of humans and development of human civilization, history, and lore? How are they continuing to do so today? What lessons can we take from our past interactions with volcanoes to better mitigate future losses, maximize resource access, and live in relative peace in and around these dynamic landscapes? Among other topics, texts will explore how legends have formed about major eruptions through human history, firsthand accounts of volcanological work gone terribly wrong, the history of volcanology as a discipline, and the role of economic status and race in our attitudes toward communities and people at high risk of catastrophic natural disaster. Writing exercises and assignments will include reflections on texts, reporting about volcanic hazards and mitigation, and papers exploring the complex relationships between humans and volcanoes.
Geology 101: How the Earth Works (Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2011, Fall 2012): An introduction to the study of planet Earth, the materials of which it is made, the forces that shape its surface and interior, the relationship of geological processes to people, and the application of geological knowledge to the search for useful materials. Laboratory and fieldwork focus on learning the tools for geological investigations and applying them to the local area and selected areas around the world. Three lectures and one afternoon of laboratory or fieldwork a week. One required one-day field trip on a weekend. (Co-taught with A. Weil; taught solo in 2011.)
Geology 102: Earth History (Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2013): The history of the Earth from its beginning and the evolution of the living forms that have populated it. Three lectures, one afternoon of laboratory a week. A required two-day (Sat.-Sun.) field trip is taken in April. (Co-taught with P. Marenco or K. Marenco.)
Geology 209: Natural Hazards and Human Populations (Spring 2012): A quantitative approach to understanding the earth processes that impact human societies. We consider the past, current, and future hazards presented by geologic processes, including earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, floods, and hurricanes. The course includes discussion of the social, economic, and policy contexts within which natural geologic processes become hazards. Case studies are drawn from contemporary and ancient societies. Lecture three hours a week. Prerequisite: one semester of college science or permission of instructor.
Geology 305: Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology (Spring 2011): The origin, mode of occurrence, and distribution of igneous and metamorphic rocks. The focus is on the experimental and field evidence for interpreting rock associations and the interplay between igneous and metamorphic rock genesis and tectonics. Three lectures and three hours of laboratory or equivalent field work a week. Occasional weekend field trips.
Additional previous courses:
Geology 103: Earth Systems and the Environment (Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2013): This integrated approach to studying the Earth focuses on interactions among geology, oceanography, and biology. Also discussed are the consequences of population growth, industrial development, and human land use. (Co-taught with D. Barber.)
Geology 115: Living With Volcanoes (Fall 2010, Spring 2011): This focus course explores how people have long lived alongside, in the shadow of, and at times directly on top of active volcanoes. Volcanic centers are hosts to sporadic and difficult-to-predict destructive and explosive activity, persistent and damaging passive degassing, valuable nutrient-rich soils, vibrant ecosystems, and important geothermal energy systems. The goals of this class are to examine the scientific basis for understanding volcanoes and predicting their behavior; to study the role of volcanoes in history and lore across human societies; and to examine our complicated relationship with them in the modern world. Focus course.
Geology 202: Mineralogy and Crystal Chemistry (Fall 2010): The crystal chemistry of representative minerals. Descriptive and determinative mineralogy, as well as the relation between the physical properties of minerals and their structures and chemical compositions. The occurrence and petrography of typical mineral associations and rocks is also covered. Lecture three hours, laboratory at least three hours a week. Prerequisite: introductory course in geology or chemistry (both recommended).
Geology 350: Advanced Topics in Geology: High-Temperature Geochemistry (Fall 2009): A seminar studying the geochemistry and origins of igneous rocks. Includes igneous petrography and examination of the chemistry of igneous materials to approach questions about igneous petrogenesis. How to use major element, trace element, and isotopic chemistry as tools to study igneous systems. Prerequisites: GEOL 202.
Geology 399: Senior Thesis Seminar (Spring 2009): An independent project in the field, laboratory, or library culminating in a written report and oral presentation. This is a weekly seminar for discussing and working on these independent projects, and to work on scientific writing.