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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Bernard Hallet
ESS 435
Seattle Campus

Glacial-Periglacial Geomorphology NW

Introduces glacial processes that shape mountainous and polar regions, creating a wealth of characteristic landforms; and periglacial processes that profoundly impact nearly twenty percent of the land surface of the plant and Mars through frost action and thermal fluctuations. Prerequisite: MATH 125; either PHYS 114 or PHYS 121; ESS 211; ESS 326; recommended: ESS 431.

Class description

An introduction to the vast regions of land influenced by ice and to 1) the glacial processes that sculpt fascinating landforms unique to glaciated regions and underlie erosion by glaciers, which curtails the growth of mountain ranges (a notion known as the Snow Buzsaw), and produces massive amounts of sediment that fill valleys and fjords and accumulate on continental shelves; and 2) the periglacial processes that profoundly impact nearly 20% of the land surface of our planet by sustaining permafrost up to 1.5 km deep and localizing all hydrological and biological activity to within ~1 m of the ground surface. Lectures and discussions will also include extra-terrestrial cryogenic landscapes, and topical linkages between glacial erosion and tectonics in active high mountain ranges, and between the cryosphere and global climate in an era of rapid warming

Student learning goals

Students who successfully complete this course should be able to critically read and digest the current literature in glacial and periglacial geomorphology, and to apply the diverse concepts and methods to future academic or professional subjects.

More broadly, they should have gained a deeper appreciation of the terrain in high mountain ranges and high latitude regions by developing an understanding of, and insight into, the processes shaping landscapes in cold regions. These insight also extends to the vast regions of the globe that were formerly covered by ice, including the Puget Sound where the legacy of the former icesheets is rich. It ranges from the lineated terrain of the Puget Lowland, to the sounds deeply scoured by the former Puget Lobe to the thick, and to the thick sequence of diverse sediments that control the subsurface hydrology and slope stability of the region.

Also, they should have developed their ability to think critically about the role of the cryosphere in climate change and mountain building (both its response to and its participation in).

Finally, they should have become better educated citizens having a solid foundation for generating informed views about environmental issues that arise in these regions.

General method of instruction

Lectures, in-class discussions and readings, one two-day field trip

Recommended preparation

Prerequisite: Math 124, 125; Phys 114 or 121; ESS211, ESS326 or equivalent. Recommended: 431 (can be taken concurrently). ESS326 is not required for students having taken ESS431.

Class assignments and grading

Short problem sets, final report and oral presentation

Short problem sets, final report and oral presentation on a topic chosen by the student


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.
Last Update by Bernard Hallet
Date: 04/22/2014