Oceanography 540--Marine Geological Processes--Winter Quarter 2001

Ocean 540:
Marine Geological Processes
Winter Quarter 2000

Class Meetings:
205 Ocean Teaching Building
Every Day---10:30-11:20 a.m., Except Every Other Friday

111 Ocean Sciences Building (Spatial Analysis Lab)
Drop-In Problem Solving Session, Every Other Week, Day and Time TBA

Russ McDuff
119 Ocean Teaching Building, 3-3058 (usually)
270 Marine Science Building, 5-1947 (occasionally)
Open Door Office Hours (Details)
Ross Heath
107B Marine Science Building, 3-3153
Open Door Office Hours (Details)

Course Overview

Marine Geological Processes is required for students in the MG&G option and is intended as the primary core course for students outside the option (depending on a student's research interests, Ocean 541--Marine Sedimentology may be more suitable). The focus of the course will be examination of a small set of selected themes involving 1) the history of earth and ocean processes recorded in marine sediments, and 2) the formation and evolution of the oceanic crust.

Three particular themes--heat and mass transfer through the ocean crust, Pleistocene sedimentation and global climate, and sediment transport--will be considered. The approach taken is to apply principles of thermodynamics, heat and mass transfer, fluid mechanics, continuum mechanics and time series analysis to modeling and understanding of observational data. In other words, the course is not meant to be encyclopedic, but rather illustrative of the methodology used in attacking significant contemporary problems in the marine geosciences. Course lectures will be supplemented with reading from the literature, class discussion, problem sets, and an individual project.  

Reference Materials

Lecture notes will be made available at <http://www2.ocean.washington.edu/oc540/>. In developing these web pages, emphasis has been placed on compliance with the W3C HTML 4.0 specification. Thus they should be viewable with either Netscape 3.01 or above or Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 or above; we recommend that browsers be updated to Netscape 4.7 or Internet Explorer 5.0 or beyond. Extensive use is made of in-line images for mathematical markup and so the material is not well-suited for text-only browsers.

The course content is not based on any specific textbook. If your background in earth sciences is limited, the text The Ocean Basins: Their Structure and Evolution published by the Open University (ISBN 0750639830) may be a valuable supplement to the lecture material. Another excellent introductory reference on the earth sciences, is Understanding Earth by Frank Press and Ray Siever (ISBN 0716731339). A comprehensive, though mainly descriptive, introduction to marine geology emphasizing the history of the ocean basins can be found in Marine Geology by Jim Kennett. Many have found Turcotte and Schubert's Geodynamics useful for portions of the course. All four of these books will be on reserve in the Fish-Ocean Library.

References to additional relevant material are listed with the associated lectures.  


The lecture schedule should be relatively stable. Any changes will be announced in class and posted on the web.  


Problem Sets

There will be five problem sets, due approximately two weeks after being distributed. Every other week we will have a drop-in problem solving session in the Spatial Analysis Lab, 111 OSB, day and time TBA. You should have spent time working on each of the problems before attending. You are welcome to discuss problems with your classmates, but the work you turn in should represent your own understanding of the problem. Your work on these sets will count for 60% of your course grade. Late work will be discounted 10% per day.

Individual Projects

Individual projects should emphasize a process-oriented approach to a problem in the marine geosciences of your choosing, either expanding on some theme developed in lectures or exploring some other topic of particular interest to you. The project should involve application of a model of some kind to geologically relevant observational data. Either instructor would be glad to discuss possible topics with you. On Monday, February 5, each student will give an approximately 6 minute presentation to the class on their proposed project covering what it is, why it is interesting, and the intended approach. The instructors will give feedback on these presentations. Your completed projects will be presented in an AGU format (either a 10 minute talk with 5 minute discussion or as part of a class poster session) during the final week of class. Your project will account for 40% of your course grade.  

Computer Use

We will make use of the computer in illustrating various concepts. For problems involving time series analysis we will use MATLAB, an interactive computing environment designed to solve problems involving matrices, coupled with a number of simple graphics commands useful in visualizing results. MATLAB is available on the PCs in 265 MSB, the Fish-Ocean library and the SAL (111 OSB) and can be run via XWindows from the UW uniform access machines, e.g. mead.u.washington.edu. We will also make use of Mathematica as a tool for problem solving. For your project presentation, we strongly urge use of Powerpoint.


The University of Washington is committed to providing access, equal opportunity and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, education and employment for individuals with disabilities. To request disability accommodation contact the Disability Services Office at least ten days in advance at: 206-543-6450/V, 206-543-6452/TTY, 206-685-7264 (FAX), or &#lt;dso@u.washington.edu$#gt;. .

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