GEOS 101 Fall 2012 The Co-Evolution of Earth and Life

Cross Listed as ENVI105
Our planet is about 4.6 billion years old, and has supported life for at least the last 3.5 billion of those years. This course will consider the inter-related nature of Earth and the life that inhabits it, starting with the first living organisms and progressing to the interaction of our own species with the Earth today. Students will investigate the dynamic nature of the Earth-life system, examine many of its feedbacks, and learn about the dramatic changes that have occurred throughout the history of the Earth. We will ask questions such as: How did the Earth facilitate biologic evolution, and what effects did those biologic events have on the physical Earth? When did photosynthesis evolve, how can we detect that in the rock record, and how did this biological event lead to profound changes in the environment? How and why did animals evolve and what role did environmental change play in the radiation of animal life? How did the rise and radiation of land plants affect world climate? How do plate tectonics, glaciation, and volcanism influence biodiversity and evolutionary innovation? What caused mass extinctions in the past and what can that teach us about our current extinction crisis? Labs will involve hands-on analysis of rocks, fossils, and real-world data as well as conceptual and analytical exercises; field trips will contextualize major events in Earth history and will help students learn to read the rock record. Through these investigations, the class will provide a comprehensive overview of Earth history, with special attention paid to the geological and paleontological history of the northeastern United States.
Class Format: lecture; one laboratory per week plus one all-day field trip to Upstate New York and possibly one half-day trip to Central MA
Requirements/Evaluation: evaluation will be based on lab work, one research project, quizzes, and a final exam
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Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preference: underclassmen
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Divisional Attributes: Division III
Other Attributes: ENVI Natural World Electives,ENVS Environmental Biology Lower Level Electives,ENVS Environmental Geosciences Electives,GEOS Oceanography, Stratigraphy + Sedimentation
Enrollment Limit: 35
Expected Enrollment: 30
Class Number: 1186
GEOS101-01(F) LEC Co-Evolution of Earth and Life Division 3: Science and Mathematics Phoebe A. Cohen
MWF 10:00 AM-10:50 AM Clark Hall 105 1186
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