GE694  Earth Systems Seminar


Physical Systems


Mondays, 5:00 - 7:00 pm, Devlin 220

Thursdays, 9:00 – 9:50 am, Devlin 220


Prof. John E. Ebel, Devlin 309, Office hours Tues. and Thurs. 3:00-4:00 pm

tel. 552-3399 or 552-8300,


This course will explore how basic ideas and theories from physics are used in an interdisciplinary approach in several different Earth science fields.  Some basic physical theories will be introduced, and their applications to different kinds of research problems will be investigated.  Different faculty from the Department of Geology and Geophysics will explain how some aspects of their research make use of the basic physical theories developed in the class.  The course will involve weekly problem sets, readings from the textbook and the literature, class projects and reports and a field trip.


Schedule of Classes


Sept. 8 -- Organizational meeting

Sept. 9 -- Introduction to basic physical methods based on different equations

Sept. 14, 17 – Fluid flow under high viscosity and low viscosity conditions

Sept. 21, 24 – Stresses and strains under viscous and elastic condition

September 28, October 1 – Kineke

October 5, 8 – Edmonds

October 15 – Heat flow and thermodynamics

October 19, 22 -- Urzua

October 26, 29 – Elasticity and flexure

November 2, 5 -- Snyder

November 9,12 -- Hon

November 16,19 -- Hepburn

November 24 – Seismology and Faulting

November 30, December 4 – Kafka

December 7, 10 -- Class presentations


Class Textbook:  Geodynamics: Applications of Continuum Physics to Geological Problems (2nd edition), by Donald L. Turcotte and Gerald Schubert, Cambridge University Press,


Reading Assignments:  There will be regular reading assignments from the literature and/or the textbook assigned throughout the semester, and students will be asked to give summaries of the readings as part of each class.


Assignments and exams:  Class attendance is very important for this course, and class participation is expected of all students.  There will be some in-class as well as some homework assignments that will be assigned during the term.  There will be no formal examinations for the course.  However, each student will be expected to complete a term project for the course and to make an oral presentation on his/her project.  A written paper on the term project will serve as the final exam for the course.


Tentative Grading Policy:  The tentative breakdown for grading the course is as follows.

Class participation and homework problems -- 30% of grade

Class presentation of term project -- 30% of grade

Term paper on term project -- 40% of grade


Class Web Page:  There is a class web page at and also a BB Vista class site.  You can consult these resources for class assignments, class announcements and reference material (including interesting web sites) for the course.  The page will be updated regularly throughout the semester.