Geological and Planetary Sciences
Geology, Geobiology, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Planetary Science
Ge 1. Earth and Environment. 9 units (3-3-3); third term. An introduction to the ideas and approaches of earth and planetary sciences, including both the special challenges and viewpoints of these kinds of science as well as the ways in which basic physics, chemistry, and biology relate to them. In addition to a wide-ranging lecture-oriented component, there will be a required field trip component (two weekend days). The lectures and topics cover such issues as solid Earth structure and evolution, plate tectonics, oceans and atmospheres, climate change, and the relationship between geological and biological evolution. Not offered on a pass/fail basis. Instructor: Asimow. Satisfies the menu requirement of the Caltech core curriculum.
Ge 10. Frontiers in Geological and Planetary Sciences. 2 units (2-0-0); second term. The course may be taken multiple times. Weekly seminar by a member of the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences or a visitor to discuss a topic of his or her current research at an introductory level. The course is designed to introduce students to research and research opportunities in the division and to help students find faculty sponsors for individual research projects. Graded pass/fail. Instructor: Clayton.
Ge 11 a. Introduction to Earth and Planetary Sciences: Earth as a Planet. 9 units (3-3-3); first term. Systematic introduction to the physical and chemical processes that have shaped Earth as a planet over geological time, and the observable products of these processes - rock materials, minerals, land forms. Geophysics of Earth. Plate tectonics; earthquakes; igneous activity. Metamorphism and metamorphic rocks. Rock deformation and mountain building. Weathering, erosion, and sedimentary rocks. The causes and recent history of climate change. The course includes an overnight field trip and a weekly laboratory section focused on the identification of rocks and minerals and the interpretation of topographic and geological maps. Although Ge 11 abcd is designed as a sequence, any one term may be taken as a standalone course. Instructor: Farley.
Ge 11 b. Introduction to Earth and Planetary Sciences: Earth and the Biosphere. 9 units (3-3-3); second term. Prerequisite: Ch 1 a. Systematic introduction to the origin and evolution of life and its impact on the oceans, atmosphere, and climate of Earth. Topics covered include ancient Earth surface environments and the rise of atmospheric oxygen. Microbial and molecular evolution, photosynthesis, genes as fossils. Banded iron stones, microbial mats, stromatolites, and global glaciation. Biological fractionation of stable isotopes. Numerical calibration of the geological timescale, the Cambrian explosion, mass extinctions, and human evolution. The course usually includes one major field trip and laboratory studies of rocks, fossils, and geological processes. Although Ge 11 abcd is designed as a sequence, any one term may be taken as a standalone course. Biologists are particularly welcome. Instructors: Fischer, Kirschvink.
Ge/Ay 11 c. Introduction to Earth and Planetary Sciences: Planetary Sciences. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. Prerequisites: Ma 1 ab, Ph 1 ab. A broad introduction to the present state and early history of the solar system, including terrestrial planets, giant planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and rings. Earth-based observations, observations by planetary spacecraft, study of meteorites, and observations of extrasolar planets are used to constrain models of the dynamical and chemical processes of planetary systems. Although Ge 11 abcd is designed as a sequence, any one term may be taken as a standalone course. Physicists and astronomers are particularly welcome. Instructor: Brown
Ge 11 d. Introduction to Earth and Planetary Sciences: Geophysics. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. Prerequisites: Ch 1, Ma 2 a, Ph 2 a. An introduction to the geophysics of the solid earth; formation of planets; structure and composition of Earth; interactions between crust, mantle, and core; surface and internal dynamics; mantle convection; imaging of the interior; seismic tomography. Although Ge 11 abcd is designed as a sequence, any one term can be taken as a standalone course. Instructors: Clayton, Gurnis.
FS/Ge 16. Freshman Seminar: Earthquakes. 6 units (2-0-4); first term. For course description, see Freshman Seminar.
Ge 40. Special Problems for Undergraduates. Units to be arranged; any term. This course provides a mechanism for undergraduates to undertake honors-type work in the geologic sciences. By arrangement with individual members of the staff. Graded pass/fail.
Ge 41 abc. Undergraduate Research and Bachelor’s Thesis. Units to be arranged; first, second, third terms. Guidance in seeking research opportunities and in formulating a research plan leading to preparation of a bachelor’s thesis is available from the GPS option representatives. Graded pass/fail.
Ge 101. Introduction to Geology and Geochemistry. 9 units (3-0-6); first term. Prerequisites: graduate standing or instructor’s permission. A broad, high-level survey of geology and geochemistry with emphasis on quantitative understanding. Historical deduction in the geological and planetary sciences. Plate tectonics as a unifying theory of geology. Igneous and metamorphic processes, structural geology and geomorphology; weathering and sedimentary processes. Nucleosynthesis and chemical history of the solar system; distribution of the elements in the earth; isotopic systems as tracers and clocks; evolution of the biosphere; global geochemical and biogeochemical cycles; geochemical constraints on deep Earth structure. One mandatory overnight field trip, selected laboratory exercises, and problem sets. Instructor: Farley.
Ge 102. Introduction to Geophysics. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. Prerequisites: Ma 2, Ph 2, or Ge 108, or equivalents. An introduction to the physics of the earth. The present internal structure and dynamics of the earth are considered in light of constraints from the gravitational and magnetic fields, seismology, and mineral physics. The fundamentals of wave propagation in earth materials are developed and applied to inferring Earth structure. The earthquake source is described in terms of seismic and geodetic signals. The following are also considered: the contributions that heat-flow, gravity, paleomagnetic, and earthquake mechanism data have made to our understanding of plate tectonics, the driving mechanism of plate tectonics, and the energy sources of mantle convection and the geodynamo. Instructors: Clayton, Gurnis.
Ge 103. Introduction to the Solar System. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. Prerequisite: instructor’s permission. Formation and evolution of the solar system. Interiors, surfaces, and atmospheres. Orbital dynamics, chaos, and tidal friction. Cratering. Comets and asteroids. Extrasolar planetary systems. Instructor: Brown.
Ge 104. Introduction to Geobiology. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. Prerequisite: instructor’s permission. Lectures about the interaction and coevolution of life and Earth surface environments. We will cover essential concepts and major outstanding questions in the field of geobiology, and introduce common approaches to solving these problems. Topics will include biological fractionation of stable isotopes; history and operation of the carbon and sulfur cycles; evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis; biomineralization; mass extinctions; analyzing biodiversity data; constructing simple mathematical models constrained by isotope mass balance; working with public databases of genetic information; phlyogenetic techniques; microbial and molecular evolution. Instructors: Fischer, Kirschvink.
Bi/Ge/ESE 105. Evolution. 12 units (3-4-5); second term. Prerequisites: Completion of Core Curriculum Courses. For course description, see Biology.
Ge 106. Introduction to Structural Geology. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. Prerequisite: Ge 11 ab. Description and origin of main classes of deformational structures. Introduction to continuum mechanics and its application to rock deformation. Interpretation of the record of deformation of the earth’s crust and upper mantle on microscopic, mesoscopic, and megascopic scales. Introduction to the tectonics of mountain belts. Instructor: Avouac.
Ge 108. Applications of Physics to the Earth Sciences. 9 units (3-0-6); first term. Prerequisites: Ph 2 and Ma 2 or equivalent. An intermediate course in the application of the basic principles of classical physics to the earth sciences. Topics will be selected from: mechanics of rotating bodies, the two-body problem, tidal theory, oscillations and normal modes, diffusion and heat transfer, wave propagation, electro- and magneto-statics, Maxwell’s equations, and elements of statistical and fluid mechanics. Instructor: Brown.
Ge 109. Oral Presentation. 5 units (2-0-3); third term. Practice in the effective organization and delivery of reports before groups. Successful completion of this course is required of all candidates for degrees in the division. Graded pass/fail. Instructors: Bikle, Rossman.
Ge 110. Geographic Information System for Geology and Planetary Sciences. 3 units (0-3-0); first term. Formal introduction to modern computer-based geospatial analysis. Covers methods and applications of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in Earth and planetary sciences in the form of practical lab exercises using the ArcGIS software package and a variety of geo-referenced data (Digital Elevation Models, geodetic measurements, satellite images, geological maps). Not offered 2017–18.
Ge 111 ab. Applied Geophysics Seminar and Field Course. 6 units (3-3-0); second term. Prerequisite: instructor’s permission. 9 units (0-3-6); spring break, third term. Prerequisite: Ge 111 a. An introduction to the theory and application of basic geophysical field techniques consisting of a comprehensive survey of a particular field area using a variety of methods (e.g., gravity, magnetic, electrical, GPS, seismic studies, and satellite remote sensing). The course will consist of a seminar that will discuss the scientific background for the chosen field area, along with the theoretical basis and implementation of the various measurement techniques. The 4-5-day field component will be held in spring break, and the data analysis component is covered in Ge 111 b. May be repeated for credit with an instructor’s permission. Instructors: Clayton, Simons.
Ge 112. Sedimentology and Stratigraphy. 12 units (3-5-4); first term. Prerequisite: Ge 11 ab. Systematic analysis of transport and deposition in sedimentary environments and the resulting composition, texture, and structure of both clastic and chemical sedimentary rocks. The nature and genesis of sequence architecture of sedimentary basins and cyclic aspects of sedimentary accumulation will be introduced. Covers the formal and practical principles of definition of stratigraphic units, correlation, and the construction of a geologic timescale. Field trip and laboratory exercises. Instructor: Grotzinger. Given in alternate years; offered 2017–18.
Ge 114 a. Mineralogy. 9 units (3-4-2); first term. Atomic structure, composition, physical properties, occurrence, and identifying characteristics of the major mineral groups. The laboratory work involves the characterization and identification of important minerals by their physical and optical properties. Instructor: Rossman.
Ge 114 b. Mineralogy Laboratory. 3 units (0-2-1); first term. Prerequisite: concurrent enrollment in Ge 114 a or instructor’s permission. Additional laboratory studies of optical crystallography and the use of the petrographic microscope. Instructor: Rossman.
Ge 115 a. Petrology and Petrography: Igneous Petrology. 9 units (3-3-3); second term. Prerequisites: Ge 114 ab. Study of the origin, occurrence, tectonic significance and evolution of igneous rocks with emphasis on use of phase equilibria and geochemistry. Instructor: Stolper. Given in alternate years; offered 2017–18.
Ge 115 b. Petrology and Petrography: Metamorphic Petrology. 9 units (3-3-3); second term. Prerequisites: Ge 114 ab. The mineralogic and chemical composition, occurrence, and classification of metamorphic rocks; interpretation of mineral assemblages in the light of chemical equilibrium and experimental studies. Discussion centers on the use of metamorphic assemblages to understand tectonic, petrologic, and geochemical problems associated with convergent plate boundaries and intrusion of magmas into the continental crust. May be taken before Ge 115 a. Instructor: Eiler. Given in alternate years; not offered 2017–18.
Ge 116. Analytical Techniques Laboratory. 9 units (1-4-4); second term. Prerequisites: Ge 114 a or instructor’s permission. Methods of quantitative laboratory analysis of rocks, minerals, and fluids in geological and planetary sciences. Consists of five intensive two-week modules covering scanning electron microscopy (imaging, energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, electron backscatter diffraction); the electron microprobe (wavelength-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy); X-ray powder diffraction; optical, infrared, and Raman spectroscopy; and plasma source mass spectrometry for elemental and radiogenic isotope analysis. Satisfies the Institute core requirement for an additional introductory laboratory course. Instructors: Asimow, Rossman.
Ge/Ay 117. Bayesian Statistics and Data Analysis. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. Prerequisites: CS1 or equivalent. In modern fields of planetary science and astronomy, vast quantities of data are often available to researchers. The challenge is converting this information into meaningful knowledge about the universe. The primary focus of this course is the development of a broad and general tool set that can be applied to the student’s own research. We will use case studies from the astrophysical and planetary science literature as our guide as we learn about common pitfalls, explore strategies for data analysis, understand how to select the best model for the task at hand, and learn the importance of properly quantifying and reporting the level of confidence in one’s conclusions. Instructor: Knutson.
Ge/ESE 118. Methods in Data Analysis. 9 units (3-0-6); first term. Prerequisites: Ma 1 or equivalent. Introduction to methods in data analysis. Course will be an overview of different ways that one can quantitatively analyze data, and will not focus on any one methodology. Topics will include linear regression, least squares inversion, Fourier analysis, principal component analysis, and Bayesian methods. Emphasis will be on both a theoretical understanding of these methods and on practical applications. Exercises will include using numerical software to analyze real data. Instructor: Tsai.
Ge 120 a. Field Geology: Introduction to Field Geology. 6 units (1-5-0); third term. Prerequisite: Ge 11 ab, Ge 106 (may be taken concurrently with Ge 106). A comprehensive introduction to methods of geological field mapping in preparation for summer field camp. Laboratory exercises introduce geometrical and graphical techniques in the analysis of geologic maps. Field trips introduce methods of geological mapping. Instructor: Wernicke.
Ge 120 b. Field Geology: Summer Field Camp. 18 units (0-18-0); summer. Prerequisite: Ge 120 a or instructor’s permission. Intensive three-week field course in a well-exposed area of the southwestern United States covering techniques of geologic field observation, documentation, and analysis. Field work begins immediately following Commencement Day in June. Instructor: Wernicke.
Ge 121 abc. Advanced Field Geology. 12 units (0-9-3); first, second, third terms. Prerequisites: Ge 120 or equivalent, or instructor’s permission. Field mapping and supporting laboratory studies in topical problems related to the geology of the southwestern United States. Course provides a breadth of experience in igneous, metamorphic, or sedimentary rocks or geomorphology. Multiple terms of 121 may be taken more than once for credit if taught by different instructors. Instructors: Lamb (a), Stock (b), Grotzinger (c).
Ge 122 a. Field Geology Seminar. 6 units (1-3-2); first term. Prerequisites: Ge 11ab or Ge 101, or instructor’s permission. Each term, a different field topic in Southern California will be examined in both seminar and field format. Relevant readings will be discussed in a weekly class meeting. During the 3-day weekend field trip we will examine field localities relevant to the topic, to permit detailed discussion of the observations. Fall term topic: tbd. Graded pass/fail. Instructor: Stock. Not offered 2017–18.
Ge 123. Continental Crust Seminar. 6 units (2-0-4); third term. A seminar course focusing on a topic related to the continental crust which will be decided depending on the interest of participating students. Potential seminar focuses could be the origin and evolution of the continental crust, the role of arc magmatism and/or accretionary orogens in forming the continental crust, or the Archean-Proterozoic transition as preserved in the igneous and metamorphic rock record. The course will comprise weekly student-led discussions of peer-reviewed literature. Instructor: Bucholz.
Ge 124 a. Paleomagnetism and Magnetostratigraphy. 6 units (0-0-6); third term. Application of paleomagnetism to the solution of problems in stratigraphic correlation and to the construction of a high-precision geological timescale. A field trip to the southwest United States or Mexico to study the physical stratigraphy and magnetic zonation, followed by lab analysis. Instructor: Kirschvink. Given in alternate years; not offered 2017–18.
Ge 124 b. Paleomagnetism and Magnetostratigraphy. 9 units (3-3-3); third term. Prerequisite: Ge 11 ab. The principles of rock magnetism and physical stratigraphy; emphasis on the detailed application of paleomagnetic techniques to the determination of the history of the geomagnetic field. Instructor: Kirschvink. Given in alternate years; not offered 2017–18.
Ge 125. Geomorphology. 12 units (3-5-4); first term. Prerequisite: Ge 11 a or instructor’s permission. A quantitative examination of landforms, runoff generation, river hydraulics, sediment transport, erosion and deposition, hillslope creep, landslides and debris flows, glacial processes, and submarine and Martian landscapes. Field and laboratory exercises are designed to facilitate quantitative measurements and analyses of geomorphic processes. Instructor: Lamb. Given in alternate years; not offered 2017–18.
Ge 126. Topics in Earth Surface Processes. 6 units (2-0-4); second term. A seminar-style course focusing on a specific theme within geomorphology and sedimentology depending on student interest. Potential themes could include river response to climate change, bedrock erosion in tectonically active mountain belts, or delta evolution on Earth and Mars. The course will consist of student-led discussions centered on readings from peer-reviewed literature. Instructor: Lamb.
Ge/Ch 127. Nuclear Chemistry. 9 units (3-0-6); first term. Prerequisite: instructor’s permission. A survey course in the properties of nuclei, and in atomic phenomena associated with nuclear-particle detection. Topics include rates of production and decay of radioactive nuclei; interaction of radiation with matter; nuclear masses, shapes, spins, and moments; modes of radioactive decay; nuclear fission and energy generation. Instructor: Burnett. Given in alternate years; offered 2017–18.
Ge/Ch 128. Cosmochemistry. 9 units (3-0-6); first term. Prerequisites: instructor’s permission. Examination of the chemistry of the interstellar medium, of protostellar nebulae, and of primitive solar-system objects with a view toward establishing the relationship of the chemical evolution of atoms in the interstellar radiation field to complex molecules and aggregates in the early solar system that may contribute to habitability. Emphasis will be placed on identifying the physical conditions in various objects, timescales for physical and chemical change, chemical processes leading to change, observational constraints, and various models that attempt to describe the chemical state and history of cosmological objects in general and the early solar system in particular. Instructor: Blake. Given in alternate years; offered 2017–18.
Ge 131. Planetary Structure and Evolution. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. Prerequisite: instructor’s permission. A critical assessment of the physical and chemical processes that influence the initial condition, evolution, and current state of planets, including our planet and planetary satellites. Topics to be covered include a short survey of condensed-matter physics as it applies to planetary interiors, remote sensing of planetary interiors, planetary modeling, core formation, physics of ongoing differentiation, the role of mantle convection in thermal evolution, and generation of planetary magnetic fields. Instructor: Stevenson.
Ge/Ay 132. Atomic and Molecular Processes in Astronomy and Planetary Sciences. 9 units (3-0-6); first term. Prerequisite: instructor’s permission. Fundamental aspects of atomic and molecular spectra that enable one to infer physical conditions in astronomical, planetary, and terrestrial environments. Topics will include the structure and spectra of atoms, molecules, and solids; transition probabilities; photoionization and recombination; collisional processes; gas-phase chemical reactions; and isotopic fractionation. Each topic will be illustrated with applications in astronomy and planetary sciences, ranging from planetary atmospheres and dense interstellar clouds to the early universe. Instructor: Blake. Given in alternate years; not offered 2017–18.
Ge/Ay 133. The Formation and Evolution of Planetary Systems. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. Review current theoretical ideas and observations pertaining to the formation and evolution of planetary systems. Topics to be covered include low-mass star formation, the protoplanetary disk, accretion and condensation in the solar nebula, the formation of gas giants, meteorites, the outer solar system, giant impacts, extrasolar planetary systems. Instructors: Batygin, Knutson.
Ge 136 abc. Regional Field Geology of the Southwestern United States. 3 units (1-0-2); first, second, or third terms, by announcement. Prerequisite: Ge 11 ab or Ge 101, or instructor’s permission. Includes approximately three days of weekend field trips into areas displaying highly varied geology. Each student is assigned the major responsibility of being the resident expert on a pertinent subject for each trip. Graded pass/fail. Instructor: Kirschvink.
Ge/Ay 137. Planetary Physics. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. Prerequisites: Ph 106 abc, ACM 95/100 ab. A quantitative review of dynamical processes that characterize long-term evolution of planetary systems. An understanding of orbit-orbit resonances, spin-orbit resonances, secular exchange of angular momentum and the onset of chaos will be developed within the framework of Hamiltonian perturbation theory. Additionally, dissipative effects associated with tidal and planet-disk interactions will be considered. Instructor: Batygin.
Ge/ESE 139. Introduction to Atmospheric Radiation. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. The basic physics of absorption and scattering by molecules, aerosols, and clouds. Theory of radiative transfer. Band models and correlated-k distributions and scattering by cloud and aerosol particles. Solar insolation, thermal emission, heating rates, and examples of applications to climate and remote sensing of Earth, planets and exoplanets. Instructor: Yung. Given in alternate years; not offered 2017–18.
Ge 140 a. Stable Isotope Geochemistry. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. An introduction to the principles and applications of stable isotope systems to earth science, emphasizing the physical, chemical and biological processes responsible for isotopic fractionation, and their underlying chemical-physics principles. Topics include the kinetic theory of gases and related isotopic fractionations, relevant subjects in quantum mechanics and statistical thermodynamics, equations of motion of charged particles in electrical and magnetic fields (the basis of mass spectrometry), the photochemistry of isotopic species, and applications to the earth, environmental and planetary sciences. Instructor: Eiler. Taught in odd years; alternates with Ge 140b. Not offered 2017–18.
Ge 140 b. Radiogenic Isotope Geochemistry. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. An introduction to the principles and applications of radiogenic isotope systems in earth science. Topics to be covered include radioactive decay phenomena, geochronometry, isotopes as tracers of solar system and planetary evolution, extinct radioactivities, and cosmogenic isotopes. Instructor: Farley. Taught in even years; alternates with Ge 140a. Offered 2017–18.
Ge/ESE 140 c. Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. Prerequisites: Ge 140a or equivalent. An introduction to the use of stable isotopes in biogeochemistry, intended to give interested students the necessary background to understand applications in a variety of fields, from modern carbon cycling to microbial ecology to records of Ancient Earth. Topics include the principles of isotope distribution in reaction networks; isotope effects in enzyme-mediated reactions, and in metabolism and biosynthesis; characteristic fractionations accompanying carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur cycling; and applications of stable isotopes in the biogeosciences. Instructor: Sessions. Offered 2017–18.
ESE/Ge 142. Aquatic Chemistry of Natural Waters. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. For course description, see Environmental Science and Engineering.
Ge/ESE 143. Organic Geochemistry. 9 units (3-2-4); first term. Prerequisite: Ch 41 a or equivalent. Main topics include the analysis, properties, sources, and cycling of natural organic materials in the environment, from their production in living organisms to burial and decomposition in sediments and preservation in the rock record. Specific topics include analytical methods for organic geochemistry, lipid structure and biochemistry, composition of organic matter, factors controlling organic preservation, organic climate and CO2 proxies, diagenesis and catagenesis, and biomarkers for ancient life. A laboratory component (three evening labs) teaches the extraction and analysis of modern and ancient organic biomarkers by GC/MS. Class includes a mandatory one-day (weekend) field trip to observe the Monterey Formation. Instructor: Sessions. Taught in even-numbered years; not offered 2017–18.
Ge 145. Isotope-Ratio Mass Spectrometry. 9 units (1-4-4); first term. This class provides a hands-on introduction to the construction and operating principles of instrumentation used for isotope-ratio mass spectrometry. The class is structured as a 1-hour lecture plus 4-hour lab each week examining the major subsystems of an IRMS, including vacuum systems, ionization source, mass analyzer, and detector. Laboratories involve hands-on deconstruction and re-assembly of a retired IRMS instrument to examine its components. Course is limited to 6 students at the discretion of the instructor, with preference given to graduate students using this instrumentation in their research. Instructor: Sessions. Taught in odd-numbered years; offered 2017–18.
Ge/ESE 149. Marine Geochemistry. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. Prerequisites: ESE 102. Introduction to chemical oceanography and sediment geochemistry. We will address the question “Why is the ocean salty?” by examining the processes that determine the major, minor, and trace element distributions of seawater and ocean sediments. Topics include river and estuarine chemistry, air/sea exchange, nutrient uptake by the biota, radioactive tracers, redox processes in the water column and sediments, carbonate chemistry, and ventilation. Instructor: Adkins. Given in alternate years; offered 2017–18.
Ge/ESE 150. Planetary Atmospheres. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. Prerequisites: Ch 1, Ma 2, Ph 2, or equivalents. Origin of planetary atmospheres, escape, and chemical evolution. Tenuous atmospheres: the moon, Mercury, and outer solar system satellites. Comets. Vapor-pressure atmospheres: Triton, Io, and Mars. Spectrum of dynamical regimes on Mars, Earth, Venus, Titan, and the gas giant planets. Instructor: Ingersoll.
Ge 151. Planetary Surfaces. 9 units (3-3-3); first term. Exogenous (impact cratering, space weathering) and endogenous (tectonic, volcanic, weathering, fluvial, aeolian, and periglacial) processes shape the surfaces of planets. We will review the mechanisms responsible for the formation and modification of the surfaces of solar system bodies, studying both composition and physical processes. Instructor: Ehlmann.
Ge/ESE 154. Readings in Paleoclimate. 3 units (1-0-2); second term. Prerequisite: instructor’s permission. Lectures and readings in areas of current interest in paleoceanography and paleoclimate. Instructor: Adkins.
Ge/ESE 155. Paleoceanography. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. Prerequisites: ESE 102. Evaluation of the data and models that make up our current understanding of past climates. Emphasis will be placed on a historical introduction to the study of the past ten thousand to a few hundred thousand years, with some consideration of longer timescales. Evidence from marine and terrestrial sediments, ice cores, corals, and speleothems will be used to address the mechanisms behind natural climate variability. Models of this variability will be evaluated in light of the data. Topics will include sea level and ice volume, surface temperature evolution, atmospheric composition, deep ocean circulation, tropical climate, ENSO variability, and terrestrial/ocean linkages. Instructor: Adkins. Given in alternate years; not offered 2017–18.
Ge 156. Topics in Planetary Surfaces. 6 units (3-0-3). Offered by announcement only. Reading about and discussion of current understanding of the surface of a selected terrestrial planet, major satellite, or asteroid. Important “classic” papers will be reviewed, relative to the data that are being returned from recent and current missions. May be repeated for credit.
Ge/EE/ESE 157 c. Remote Sensing for Environmental and Geological Applications. 9 units (3-3-3); third term. Analysis of electromagnetic radiation at visible, infrared, and radio wavelengths for interpretation of the physical and chemical characteristics of the surfaces of Earth and other planets. Topics: interaction of light with materials, spectroscopy of minerals and vegetation, atmospheric removal, image analysis, classification, and multi-temporal studies. This course does not require but is complementary to EE 157ab with emphasis on applications for geological and environmental problems, using data acquired from airborne and orbiting remote sensing platforms. Students will work with digital remote sensing datasets in the laboratory and there will be one field trip. Instructor: Ehlmann.
Ge/Ay 159. Planetary Evolution and Habitability. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. Photochemistry of planetary atmospheres, comparative planetology, atmospheric evolution. What makes Earth habitable? Remote sensing of extrasolar planets, biosignatures. Instructor: Yung. Given in alternate years; offered 2017–18.
Ae/Ge/ME 160 ab. Continuum Mechanics of Fluids and Solids. 9 units (3-0-6). For course description, see Aerospace.
Ge 161. Plate Tectonics. 9 units (3-0-6); first term. Prerequisite: Ge 11 ab or equivalent. Geophysical and geological observations related to plate tectonic theory. Instantaneous and finite motion of rigid plates on a sphere; marine magnetic and paleomagnetic measurements; seismicity and tectonics of plate boundaries; reference frames and absolute plate motions. Interpretations of geologic data in the context of plate tectonics; plate tectonic evolution of the ocean basins. Instructor: Stock.
Ge 162. Seismology. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. Prerequisite: ACM 95/100 ab or equivalent. Review of concepts in classical seismology. Topics to be covered: basic theories of wave propagation in the earth, instrumentation, Earth’s structure and tomography, theory of the seismic source, physics of earthquakes, and seismic risk. Emphasis will be placed on how quantitative mathematical and physical methods are used to understand complex natural processes, such as earthquakes. Instructor: Ampuero.
Ge 163. Geodynamics. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. Prerequisite: Ae/Ge/ME 160 ab. Quantitative introduction to the dynamics of the earth, including core, mantle, lithosphere, and crust. Mechanical models are developed for each of these regions and compared to a variety of data sets. Potential theory applied to the gravitational and geomagnetic fields. Special attention is given to the dynamics of plate tectonics and the earthquake cycle. Instructor: Gurnis.
Ge 164. Mineral Physics. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. Prerequisites: Ge 11 ad or equivalent, or instructor’s permission. Introduction to the mineral physics of Earth’s interior. Topics covered: mineralogy and phase transitions at high pressures and temperatures; elasticity and equations of state; vibrational, electronic, and transport properties; application of mineral physics data to Earth and planetary interiors. Instructor: Jackson. Not offered 2017–18.
Ge 165. Geophysical Data Analysis and Seismic Imaging. 9 units (3-0-6); first term. Prerequisites: basic linear algebra and Fourier transforms. Introduction to modern digital analysis: discrete Fourier transforms, filters, correlation, convolution, deconvolution and auto-regressive models. Imaging with seismic reflection and refraction data, tomography, receiver functions and surface waves. Instructor: Clayton.
Ge 166. Hydrology. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. Prerequisites: Math 1 or equivalent. Introduction to hydrology. Focus will be on how water moves on earth, including in groundwater, rivers, oceans, glaciers, and the atmosphere. Class will be based in fluid mechanics, which will be covered. Specific topics will include the Navier-Stokes equation, Darcy’s law, aquifer flow, contaminant transport, turbulent flow, gravity waves, tsunami propagation, geostrophic currents, Ekman transport, glacier flow laws, and the Hadley circulation. Instructor: Tsai. Given in alternate years; offered 2017–18.
Ge 167. Tectonic Geodesy. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. Prerequisites: a working knowledge of unix/linux or equivalent, linear algebra, and coursework in geophysics. An introduction to the use of modern geodetic observations (e.g., GPS and InSAR) to constrain crustal deformation models. Secular velocity fields, coseismic and time-dependent processes; volcano deformation and seasonal loading phenomena. Basic inverse approaches for parameter estimation and basic temporal filtering algorithms. Instructor: Simons. Given in alternate years; offered 2017–18.
Ge 169 abcd. Readings in Geophysics. 6 units (3-0-3); first, second, third, fourth terms. Reading courses are offered to teach students to read critically the work of others and to broaden their knowledge about specific topics. Each student will be required to write a short summary of each paper that summarizes the main goals of the paper, to give an assessment of how well the author achieved those goals, and to point out related issues not discussed in the paper. Each student will be expected to lead the discussion on one or more papers. The leader will summarize the discussion on the paper(s) in writing. A list of topics offered each year will be posted on the Web. Individual terms may be taken for credit multiple times without regard to sequence. Instructor: Staff.
Ge/ESE 170. Microbial Ecology. 9 units (3-2-4); third term. Prerequisites: Either ESE/Bi 166 or ESE/Bi 168. Structural, phylogenetic, and metabolic diversity of microorganisms in nature. The course explores microbial interactions, relationships between diversity and physiology in modern and ancient environments, and influence of microbial community structure on biogeochemical cycles. Introduction to ecological principles and molecular approaches used in microbial ecology and geobiological investigations. Instructor: Orphan. Offered in alternate years; not offered 2017–18.
ESE/Ge/Ch 171. Atmospheric Chemistry I. 9 units (3-0-6). For course description, see Environmental Science and Engineering.
ESE/Ge/Ch 172. Atmospheric Chemistry II. 3 units (3-0-0). For course description, see Environmental Science and Engineering.
CE/ME/Ge 173. Mechanics of Soils. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. For course description, see Civil Engineering.
ME/CE/Ge 174. Mechanics of Rocks. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. For course description, see Mechanical Engineering.
Ge 177. Active Tectonics. 12 units (3-3-6); third term. Prerequisites: Ge 112 and Ge 106 or equivalent. Introduction to techniques for identifying and quantifying active tectonic processes. Geomorphology, stratigraphy, structural geology, and geodesy applied to the study of active faults and folds in a variety of tectonic settings. Relation of seismicity and geodetic measurements to geologic structure and active tectonics processes. Review of case studies of selected earthquakes. Instructor: Avouac. Offered in alternate years; offered 2017–18.
Ge 190. The Nature and Evolution of the Earth. Units to be arranged. Offered by announcement only. Advanced-level discussions of problems of current interest in the earth sciences. Students may enroll for any or all terms of this course without regard to sequence. Instructor: Staff.
Ge 191. Special Topics in Geochemistry. Units to be arranged; Offered by announcement only. Advanced-level discussions of problems of current interest in geochemistry. Students may enroll for any or all terms of this course without regard to sequence. Instructors: Staff.
Ge 192. Special Topics in the Geological Sciences. Units to be arranged. Offered by announcement only. Advanced-level discussions of problems of current interest in the geological sciences. Students may enroll for any or all terms of this course without regard to sequence. Instructor: Staff.
Ge 193. Special Topics in Geophysics. Units to be arranged. Offered by announcement only. Advanced-level discussions of problems of current interest in geophysics. Students may enroll for any or all terms of this course without regard to sequence. Instructor: Staff.
Ge 194. Special Topics in the Planetary Sciences: Juno and Cassini. 6 units (3-0-3); first term. Prerequisite Ge103 or equivalent. A coverage of the key science addressed by Juno (currently in orbit around Jupiter) and Cassini (end-of-mission part only, close in to Saturn). Topics include the internal structures (gravity and magnetic field), atmospheric structures, composition and dynamics. The emphasis will be on how the spacecraft instruments work, what they measure and how the resulting data are interpreted. Outside speakers will be used on occasion. The big questions (origin of these planets) will also be addressed. Each student will do a small project related to the data or their interpretation. Instructors: Stevenson, Ingersoll.
Ge 195. Special Topics in Field Geology. Units to be arranged. Offered by announcement. Field experiences in different geological settings. Supporting lectures will usually occur before and during the field experience. This course will be scheduled only when special opportunities arise. Class may be taken more than once. Instructor: Staff.
Ge 196. Special Topics in Atmospheres and Oceans. Units to be arranged. Offered by announcement only. Advanced-level discussions of problems of current interest in atmospheric and ocean sciences. Instructor: Staff.
Ge 197. Special Topics in Geobiology. Units to be arranged. Offered by announcement only. Advanced-level discussions of problems of current interest in geobiological sciences. Students may enroll for any or all terms of this course without regard to sequence. Instructor: Staff.
Ay/Ge 198. Special Topics in the Planetary Sciences. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. For course description, see Astrophysics.
Ge 211. Applied Geophysics II. Units to be arranged; second term. Prerequisite: instructor’s permission. Intensive geophysical field experience in either marine or continental settings. Marine option will include participation in a student training cruise, with several weeks aboard a geophysical research vessel, conducting geophysical measurements (multibeam bathymetry, gravity, magnetics, and/or seismics), and processing and interpreting the data. Supporting lectures and problem sets on the theoretical basis of the relevant geophysical techniques and the tectonic background of the survey area will occur before and during the training cruise. The course might be offered in a similar format in other isolated situations. The course will be scheduled only when opportunities arise and this usually means that only six months’ notice can be given. Auditing not permitted. Class may be taken more than once. Instructors: Stock, Gurnis.
Ge 212. Thermodynamics of Geological Systems. 9 units (3-0-6); first term. Prerequisites: Either Ch 21 abc, Ge 115 a, or equivalents. Chemical thermodynamics as applied to geological and geochemical problems. Classical thermodynamics, including stability criteria, homogeneous and heterogeneous equilibria, equilibria subject to generalized constraints, equations of state, ideal and non-ideal solutions, redox systems, and electrolyte conventions. Brief discussion of statistical foundations and an introduction to the thermodynamics of irreversible processes. Instructor: Asimow. Given in alternate years; offered 2017–18.
Ge 214. Spectroscopy of Minerals. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. Prerequisites: Ge 114 a, Ch 21 ab, or instructor’s permission. An overview of the interaction of minerals with electromagnetic radiation from gamma rays to microwaves. Particular emphasis is placed on visible, infrared, Raman, and Mössbauer spectroscopies as applied to mineralogical problems such as phase identification, chemical analysis, site populations, and origin of color and pleochroism. Instructor: Rossman. Given in alternate years; not offered 2017–18.
Ge 215. Topics in Advanced Petrology. 12 units (4-0-8); first term. Prerequisite: Ge 115 ab or instructor’s permission. Lectures, readings, seminars, and/or laboratory studies in igneous or metamorphic petrology, paragenesis, and petrogenesis. The course may cover experimental, computational, or analytical methods. Format and content are flexible according to the needs of the students. Instructor: Asimow. Given in alternate years; not offered 2017–18.
Ge 217. Radiogenic Isotopes Seminar. 6 units (3-0-3); second term. Prerequisites: Ge 140 or permission of instructor. The course deals with advanced topics in radiogenic isotope geochemistry and builds on Ge 140, addressing unconventional applications of radioisotopes as well as treating several conventional radiogenic systems in more detail. Each unit begins with a lecture on the history of the system followed by guided discussion of current developments. Special topics include the history of radiogenic isotope geochemistry at Caltech, U-series dating of sediments, high precision U-Pb and 40Ar/39Ar geochronology, and heavy noble gases. Instructor: Farley. Given in alternate years; not offered 2017–18.
Ge 218. Stable Isotopes Seminar. 6 units (3-0-3); second term. Prerequisites: Ge 140 or permission of instructor. The course deals with advanced topics in stable isotope geochemistry and builds on Ge 140. The course will explore in depth the theory and applications of a subject in stable isotope geochemistry, selected by consensus of the enrolled students at or before the beginning of term. Example subjects could include: stable isotope thermometry; paleoclimate studies; paleoaltimetry; the early solar system; terrestrial weathering; photochemistry; or biosynthetic fractionations. The class will read and discuss classic papers in that subject area, supplemented with instructor lectures and broader background reading. All participants will lead discussions of papers and present one lecture on a relevant subject. Instructor: Eiler. Given in alternate years; offered 2017–18.
CE/Ge/ME 222. Earthquake Source Processes, Debris Flows, and Soil Liquefaction: Physics-based Modeling of Failure in Granular Media. 6 units (2-0-4); third term. For course description, see Civil Engineering.
Ae/AM/ME/Ge 225. Special Topics in Solid Mechanics. Units to be arranged. For course description, see Aerospace.
Ge 232. Chemistry of the Solar System. 9 units (3-0-6); first term. Prerequisites: instructor’s permission. The isotopic and elemental compositions of extraterrestrial materials provide clues to conditions, events, and processes during the formation of the solar system. Specific topics include: solar elemental and isotopic compositions; chronology from short-lived nuclei; the unique role of volatile elements; pre-solar grains from meteorites; chondritic meteorite components as clues to solar nebula and asteroid evolution; interplanetary and comet coma dust; asteroidal igneous rocks; overview of lunar materials. Instructor: Burnett. Given in alternate years; not offered 2017–18.
Ge/Bi 244. Paleobiology Seminar. 6 units (3-0-3); third term. Critical reviews and discussion of classic investigations and current research in paleoecology, evolution, and biogeochemistry. Instructor: Kirschvink.
Ge/Bi/ESE 246. Molecular Geobiology Seminar. 6 units (2-0-4); third term. Recommended preparation: ESE/Bi 166. Critical reviews and discussion of classic papers and current research in microbiology and geomicrobiology. As the topics will vary from year to year, it may be taken multiple times. Instructor: Orphan.
Ge 261. Advanced Seismology. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. Continuation of Ge 162 with special emphasis on particular complex problems; includes generalizations of analytical methods to handle nonplanar structures and methods of interfacing numerical-analytical codes in two and three dimensions; construction of Earth models using tomographic methods and synthetics. Requires a class project. Instructor: Zhan.
Ge 263. Computational Geophysics. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. Prerequisites: introductory class in geophysics, class in partial differential equations, some programming experience. Finite-difference, pseudo-spectral, finite-element, and spectral-element methods will be presented and applied to a number of geophysical problems including heat flow, deformation, and wave propagation. Students will program simple versions of methods. Instructors: Ampuero, Clayton, Gurnis. Given in alternate years; offered 2017–18.
ME/Ge/Ae 266 ab. Dynamic Fracture and Frictional Faulting. 9 units (3-0-6). For course description, see Mechanical Engineering.
Ge 270. Continental Tectonics. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. Prerequisites: ACM 95/100 or ACM 113; Ge 11 ab, Ge 106, Ge 162, or Ge 161. The nature of nonplate, finite deformation processes in the evolution of the continental lithosphere, using the Alpine orogen as an example. Rheological stratification; isostatic and flexural response to near-vertical loads; rifting and associated basin development; collision and strike-slip tectonics; deep crustal processes. Instructor: Wernicke. Given in alternate years; offered 2017–18.
Ge 277. Active Tectonics Seminar. 6 units (2-0-4); second term. Discussion of key issues in active tectonics based on a review of the literature. The topic of the seminar is adjusted every year based on students’ interest and recent literature. Instructor: Avouac.
Ge 297. Advanced Study. Units to be arranged.
Ge 299. Thesis Research. Original investigation, designed to give training in methods of research, to serve as theses for higher degrees, and to yield contributions to scientific knowledge.