Semester One, 18 points
Lectures: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday at 12noon
Labs: offered all week
Course Coordinator: Prof. Mark Stirling - firstname.lastname@example.org
This course begins with an overview of the Earth, concepts such as geological time and the rock cycle, and large-scale aspects of oceans and continents. We look at tectonic processes Earth surface features, and the structure of the Earth’s interior. We use modern techniques such as swath mapping, GPS, and deep-sea drilling to look at aspects of the sea floor. Marine and atmospheric circulation patterns (for example, El Nino), and chemical and nutrient cycles are introduced, and then we explore processes that operate on the surface of the earth - weathering and soil formation, landslides and huge submarine slumps, river erosion and sedimentation, glaciation, and origin of landforms.
Once we have explored the geosphere, it’s time to consider the biosphere! We’ll use use the fossil record to consider the evolution of life, with sessions on dinosaurs, reefs, whales, humans, and the fossil history of Antarctica. Discussion of the origin of the Solar System is our grand finale.
Weekly laboratory sessions focus on earth materials, circulation patterns, geological and marine cycles, landslides, rivers, paleontology, and marine organisms. One lab is held at the Portobello Marine Laboratory. Another takes place on the Polaris research vessel. The course includes two weekend field trips: one to study the rocks, fossils, and landforms of the Oamaru region, and the other to study the evolution, sediments, and geomorphic history of the Taieri River and the Taieri Plains.