GEOS 102
An Unfinished Planet Spring 2025
Division III

Class Details

Earth is an evolving planet. The pace of plate tectonics may be imperceptibly slow but earthquakes and volcanic eruptions caused by shifting plates disrupt civilizations. In a geological time frame, nothing on Earth is permanent: ocean basins open and close, mountains rise and fall, continental masses collide and pull apart. There is a message here for all of us who live, for an infinitesimally brief time, on the moving surface of the globe. This course uses the plate tectonics model–one of the fundamental scientific accomplishments of the 20th century–to interpret the processes and products of a changing Earth. The emphasis will be on mountain systems (on land and beneath the oceans) as expressions of plate interactions. Specific topics include the rocks and structures of modern and ancient mountain belts, the patterns of global seismicity and volcanism, the nature of the Earth’s interior, the changing configurations of continents and ocean basins through time, and, in some detail, the formation of the Appalachian Mountain system and the geological assembly of New England. Readings will be from a physical geology textbook and primary sources. This course is in the Solid Earth group for the Geosciences major.
The Class: Format: lecture/laboratory; lecture three hours per week and lab (two involving field work) two hours per week; one required all-day field trip on the last Monday of the semester to the Connecticut Valley and the highlands of western Massachusetts
Limit: 40
Expected: 40
Class#: 3170
Grading: yes pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: three hour-tests and weekly lab work
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: first year and second year students, Geosciences majors
Distributions: Division III
Attributes: ENVI Natural World Electives
EXPE Experiential Education Courses

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