H205: Theory of the Earth
H205: Theory of the Earth (3 cr.) NMNS Examination of how progressively increasing knowledge about the interior of the earth and planetary bodies is shaping the understanding of mechanisms of earth processes. Inferences of earth processes from properties of earth materials. For non-science majors.
The foundation of the modern Theory of the Earth (Hutton, 1788-95) came into being in late 18th century. Qualitative observation of the earth's surface and an explanation (~ theory) in terms of its interaction with the atmosphere and the hydrosphere, and motions in the upper few kilometers of the solid earth formed the basis of the theory. Acceptance of the theory of Continental Drift (Wegener, 1912; tr. 1966) depended on new knowledge of the global pattern of continents and the first 10s of kilometers below the earth's surface. Quantitative data on the earth's deep interior (1000s of kilometers), sea floor, and global satellite images led to the Theory of Plate Tectonics (e.g., Dewey, 1972). Only Anderson (1989) considered properties of other planetary bodies in expanding the theory but a general theory of terrestrial planets is yet to come.
Since Darwin (1859) a flexible consensus exists on theories of the origin, evolution and extinction of life. Distribution of fossils in space and time provides some evidence for the theories of continental drift and plate tectonics. Meteoritic impacts, causing mass extinction and spawning subsequent biodiversity, have established an extraterrestrial connection. Interesting as that may be, it is the theory of the earth that has influenced the theory of origin, evolution and extinction of life, and, is now poised to interject a solar system perspective. The course will debate this contemporary movement in reshaping the theory of the earth and its influence.
Course Outline and Logistics for Fall, 2003
Grotzinger, Jordan, Press, Siever (GJPS): Understanding Earth (2007; 5th Ed)Recommended:
Hartmann and Miller: The History of Earth (1991)
Feynman: Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman (Bantam ed., 1986)
Additional assignments from a few of:
Dott and Prothero: Evolution of the Earth (1994; 5th Ed)
Morrison and Owen: The Planetary System (1996; 2nd Ed)
Wood: The Solar System (2000; 2nd Ed)
Emiliani: Planet Earth and Cosmology (1992)
Hutton: Theory of the Earth (1795)
Anderson: Theory of the Earth (1989)
Shaw: Craters, Cosmos and Chronology: A New Theory of Earth (1994)
Wegener: The Origin of Continents and Oceans (1912; tr. 1966 by King)
Verhoogen: Energetics of the Earth (1991)
Hallam: A Revolution in Earth Sciences (1973)
Engelhardt and Zimmerman: Theory of Earth Science (1982; tr. 1988)
Oreskes: The Rejection of Continental Drift (1999)
Ausich and Lane: Life of the Past (1999; 4th Ed)
Kuhn: The Structure of Scientific Revolution (1962; 2nd Ed 1970)
Popper: Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge (1962)
These are on reserve in the Geology Library.
"STUDY" means a lot more than quick reading for an impression. Please Think About the Assignments in a Global Context.
Lecture Schedule & Study Assignments
Examinations & Grading
Grading will be on an "A‑F" scale; "P‑F" will not be permitted and an "I" will be allowed only for medical reasons and extremely extenuating circumstances.
Two intra-term OPEN BOOK OPEN NOTES comprehensive examinations, each worth 25% of the course grade (i.e., 50% for the two) will be given during the semester. The FINAL lecture examination, also OPEN BOOK OPEN NOTES, will be comprehensive and will constitute 25% of the course grade. Lab grades will add up to the other 25% of the course grade. Students are strongly encouraged to participate in discussions; marginal adjustment of letter grades may be made depending on contribution to class discussions. MATERIAL DISCUSSED IN THE CLASS, WHETHER IN THE READING ASSIGNMENT OR NOT, WILL BE IN THE EXAMINATIONS. Take good notes.