GEOS 404
Coastal Processes and Geomorphology Fall 2021
Division III Quantative/Formal Reasoning
Cross-listed ENVI 404 / MAST 404 / GEOS 404

Class Details

Can people live safely along the coast? Recent events like SuperStorm Sandy and the Tohoku Tsunami have shown us how the ocean can rise up suddenly and wreak havoc on our lives and coastal infrastructure. Only educated geoscientists can evaluate the risks and define informed strategies to prevent future coastal catastrophes. Currently almost half the global population lives within 100 km of the coast, with a large percent of those living in densely populated cities (e.g., New York, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Cape Town, Sydney, Mumbai). Despite the growing risks and challenges associated with climate change and rising sea levels, the coastal population continues to grow rapidly. To help ensure these growing populations can live safely along the coast requires a detailed understanding of the processes that shape the coastal zone. These processes act across a variety of scales, from deep-time geologic processes that dictate coastal shape and structure, to decadal-scale processes that determine shoreline position and evolution, to weekly and daily processes such as storms and tides. This course will provide an in-depth look at the forces–wind, waves, storms, and people–that shape the coastal zone, as well as the geologic formations–sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, barrier islands, deltas, and coral reefs–that are acted upon and resist these forces. Coastal dynamics are strongly affected by human interventions, such as seawalls, dredged channels, and sand dune removal, as well as by sea level rise and changes in storm frequency and magnitude associated with climate change. Finally, the course will provide students with a perspective on how the U.S. seeks to manage its coastal zone, focusing on sea level rise and coastal development. This class will include a quantitative lab that will use MATLAB software to model and evaluate various coastal processes. Students will gain a basic understanding of MATLAB functionality, and will be asked to independently apply what they have learned to various data sets provided by the instructor.
The Class: Format: lecture/laboratory; lecture two times a week with a lab one time per week
Limit: 12
Expected: 10
Class#: 1272
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: lab reports, tests, and an independent research project
Prerequisites: Either GEOS 104 or GEOS 210; or permission of instructor
Enrollment Preferences: senior Geosciences majors, then juniors
Unit Notes: As a 400-level seminar, this capstone course is intended to build on and extend knowledge and skills students have developed during previous courses in the major
Distributions: Division III Quantative/Formal Reasoning
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ENVI 404 Division III MAST 404 Division III GEOS 404 Division III
QFR Notes: This course will involve the use of MATLAB software to quantitatively analyze coastal process and geomorphological data.
Attributes: ENVI Natural World Electives

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