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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

J. Michael Brown
ESS 210
Seattle Campus

Physical Geology

Introduction to the physical and chemical processes of the earth's surface and interior. Plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanism, glaciation. Optional field trips to Cascades and Olympics. Background in geology not required but science background desirable. Not open for credit to students who have taken ESS 101.

Class description

Earth will likely remain your "spaceship" for life. Earth and Space Sciences 210 is a one quarter "Occupants' Manual" describing how it works, where the controls are, and how our physical environment has evolved and continues to change. Two themes are plate tectonics (the underlying process driving Earth evolution) and Earth systems (the linkage between physical and bio-geochemical processes). See courses.washington.edu/ess210

Student learning goals

Id like you to develop skills that permit interpretation of Earth materials, geologic history and processes, and Earth's structure.

In particular, you should be better able to describe and identify important minerals, rocks, and geologic materials.

Furthermore, you should better understand the origin and actions of major earth processes including plate tectonics, volcanism, glaciation, weathering, and sedimentation the variability and complexity typical of geologic systems and their interdependent processes. how analysis of present systems permits inferences about past and future behavior and consequences. the implications of certain geologic processes (including floods, earthquakes, ground water mining) as they impact human activities

General method of instruction

Three lectures each week cover overarching principals. Two "labs" each week are closely linked to lectures and reinforce the concepts with hands-on exercises.

Recommended preparation

Students in ESS 210 are self-selected. They are self-motivated and enthusiastic about learning. Rigor in this course is associated with the breadth of material that must be comprehended. An ability to understand a conceptual framework spanning basic principals of physics and chemistry is needed. However, the course is not focused on quantitative exercises.

Class assignments and grading

Lecture: (1) reading, (2) self/group evaluated study questions, (3) Midterm and final Lab: In class exercises, quizes Weekend field trip for extra credit.

200 point Midterm 200 point Final 300 points for all Lab assignments

The top student(s) will receive a 4.0 you are guarenteed a B range grade if no lower than 80% of the top grade and a C range grade if no lower than 70% of the top grade. Depending on circumstances, I may shift the curve down but will not shift it up.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by J. Michael Brown
Date: 02/22/2009