Geological Sciences

Course Listing

Geological Sciences

The following courses are offered by the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

For questions about specific courses, contact the department:

Departmental Office: 556-7 Schermerhorn
212-854-4525
Office Hours: Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.

Web: http://eesc.columbia.edu

Please note: Some courses are held at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, NY.

EESC BC1002 Environmental Science II. 4.5 points.

Lab Required

Prerequisites: Enrollment limited. Laboratory fee $30. Students must enroll in the corresponding lab course, EESC BC1012y, to receive credit.

Interdisciplinary, integrated study of groundwater, radionuclides, toxics, and human health in the context of a semester-long, detailed exploration of a brownfield, a contaminated aquifer, and its impact on a local community using the award-winning Brownfield Action simulation. Includes a reading of Jonathan Harr's A Civil Action and Rachel Carson's Silent Spring.

EESC BC3021 Forests and Environmental Change. 4 points.

Not offered during 2019-20 academic year.

Prerequisites: Enrollment limited to 12 students. One year of college science or permission of instructor. Alternate years.

Seminar on forests in global change framework: forest distribution and link to climate, forest ecology, paleoecology, role of forests in global ecosystem, biological invasions, habitat fragmentation, biodiversity, conservation and management strategies. Format: class discussion of readings, student presentations on scientific papers, field trips, data collection and analysis.

EESC BC3025 Hydrology. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Quantitative and Deductive Reasoning (QUA).

Prerequisites: EESC V2100, physics, or permission of instructor. Includes a weekend field trip. Alternate years.

Hands-on study and discussion of the basic physical principles of the water cycle (evaporation, condensation, precipitation, runoff, and subsurface flow), as well as environmentally relevant applications based on case studies. Special focus on the New York City area, the arid Southwest, and the developing world. Coverage of contemporary global water resources issues, including pollution control, sustainable development, and climate change. General Education Requirement: Quantitative and Deductive Reasoning (QUA).

Spring 2019: EESC BC3025
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
EESC 3025 001/00362 T Th 10:10am - 12:00pm
805 Altschul Hall
Martin Stute, Christian Braneon 3 13/25

EESC BC3032 Agricultural and Urban Land Use: Human-Environment Interactions. 4 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Cultures in Comparison (CUL).
Not offered during 2019-20 academic year.

Prerequisites: One year of college science or permission of instructor. Alternate years.

Human transformation of the terrestrial environment since Paleolithic times. Biophysical processes involved in human-environment interactions. Guidelines for sustainable agricultural and urban development using present and past examples of environmental use and abuse. General Education Requirement: Cultures in Comparison (CUL).

EESC BC3200 Ecotoxicology. 3 points.

Not offered during 2019-20 academic year.

Prerequisites: CHEM BC1601, BIOL BC2002, or permission of instructor. Alternate years.

The study of anthropogenic contaminants within our natural environment and their subsequent effects on biological organisms. Effects to be examined: the molecular scale (biochemical pathways of metabolism and detoxification), the organismal scale (target organs, behavioral effects), and the ecosystem scale (species viability). Lectures and hands-on activities are used to teach the material.

EESC G6300 Geophysical Inverse Theory. 3 points.

Given in alternate years.Not offered during 2019-20 academic year.

Basic techniques of linear and non-linear inverse theory, and the validation of numerical models with sparse and noisy data. Includes discussion of genetic algorithms and evolutionary programming, theories of optimization, parameter tradeoffs, and hypothesis testing.

EESC G6810 The Carbon Cycle. 3 points.

Not offered during 2019-20 academic year.

Four aspects of the Earth's carbon cycle are considered: how it operated just prior to the Industrial Revolution; the fossil fuel CO2 perturbation; changes during glacial time; and the long-term planetary control system. Emphasis on information obtained from measurements of 13C and 14C.

EESC G6908 Quantitative Methods of Data Analysis. 4 points.

Prerequisites: calculus. Recommended preparation: linear algebra, statistics, or the instructor's permission.

Introduction to the fundamentals of data analysis. Topics: review of relevant statistics and linear algebra; methods of interpolation (different interpolants, advantages/disadvantages); methods of least squares (linear, weighted, constrained, error analysis); linear and nonlinear correlation; spectral analysis (Fourier analysis, convolution, deconvolution, distribution theory, Fourier theorems, smoothing, error analysis, power and phase spectral estimation, different approaches); filtering time series; forecast models (AR, MA, ARMA, ARIMA), empirical orthogonal functions (EOF), and related techniques.

EESC G6930 Ocean Dynamics. 3 points.

Given in alternate years.

Prerequisites: calculus, differential equations, vector algebra, fluid mechanics.

Hydrodynamical equations, vorticity dynamics, ocean circulation theories.

EESC GR8884 Advanced Geochemistry. 3 points.

Usually given in alternate years.

Prerequisites: the instructor's permission.

Advanced topics in radiogenic isotope and trace-element geochemistry. Origin and composition of the Earth, evolution of the continents and mantle, and applications to igneous and surficial processes.

Spring 2019: EESC GR8884
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
EESC 8884 001/11464 W 11:30am - 1:00pm
Room TBA
Albrecht Hofmann 3 3/50

EESC GU4050 Global Assessment and Monitoring Using Remote Sensing. 3 points.

CC/GS: Partial Fulfillment of Science Requirement, Lab Required
Enrollment limited to 24. Priority given to graduate students in the natural sciences and engineering.

Prerequisites: Course Cap 20 students. Priority given to graduate students in the natural sciences and engineering. Advanced level undergraduates may be admitted with the instructor's permission. Calculus I and Physics I & II are required for undergraduates who wish to take this course.

General introduction to fundamentals of remote sensing; electromagnetic radiation, sensors, interpretation, quantitative image analysis and modeling. Example applications in the Earth and environmental sciences are explored through the analysis of remote sensing imagery in a state-or-the-art visualization laboratory.

Fall 2019: EESC GU4050
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
EESC 4050 001/55526 Th 5:40pm - 6:55pm
417 Schermerhorn Hall
Christopher Small 3 6/20
EESC 4050 001/55526 F 9:00am - 10:45am
558 Ext Schermerhorn Hall
Christopher Small 3 6/20

EESC GU4925 Principles of Physical Oceanography. 3 points.

CC/GS: Partial Fulfillment of Science Requirement

Prerequisites: Recommended preparation: a solid background in mathematics, physics, and chemistry.

Physical properties of seawater, water masses and their distribution, sea-air interaction influence on the ocean structure, basic ocean circulation pattern, relation of diffusion and advection with respect to distribution of ocean properties, ocean tides and waves, turbulence, and introduction to ocean dynamics.

Fall 2019: EESC GU4925
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
EESC 4925 001/55508 T Th 2:40pm - 3:55pm
555 Schermerhorn Hall
Arnold Gordon, Ryan Abernathey 3 11/25

EESC UN2100 Earth's Environmental Systems: The Climate System. 4.5 points.

CC/GS: Partial Fulfillment of Science Requirement, BC: Partial Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Laboratory Science (SCI)., BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Quantitative and Deductive Reasoning (QUA)., Lab Required
Priority given to Columbia and Barnard earth science, environmental science, and environmental biology majors should enrollment limits be reinstated.

Prerequisites: high school algebra. Recommended preparation: high school chemistry and physics; and one semester of college science.

  Origin and development of the atmosphere and oceans, formation of winds, storms and ocean currents, reasons for changes through geologic time. Recent influence of human activity: the ozone hole, global warming, water pollution. Laboratory exploration of topics through demonstrations, experimentation, computer data analysis, and modeling. Students majoring in Earth and Environmental Sciences should plan to take EESC W2100 before their senior year to avoid conflicts with Senior Seminar.

Spring 2019: EESC UN2100
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
EESC 2100 001/68603 T Th 2:40pm - 3:55pm
703 Hamilton Hall
Arlene Fiore, Galen McKinley 4.5 35/50
EESC 2100 001/68603 T 4:10pm - 7:00pm
558 Ext Schermerhorn Hall
Arlene Fiore, Galen McKinley 4.5 35/50
Fall 2019: EESC UN2100
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
EESC 2100 001/55514 T Th 10:10am - 11:25am
603 Schermerhorn Hall
Jerry McManus, Adam Sobel 4.5 46/50
EESC 2100 001/55514 T 4:10pm - 7:00pm
555 Schermerhorn Hall
Jerry McManus, Adam Sobel 4.5 46/50

EESC V2100 Earth's Environmental Systems: Climate. 4.5 points.

BC: Partial Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Laboratory Science (SCI)., BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Quantitative and Deductive Reasoning (QUA)., Lab Required

Prerequisites: High school algebra. Recommended preparation: High school chemistry/physics, and one semester college science. Enrollment limited.

Studies formation of winds, storms, and ocean currents. Recent influence of human activity: global warming, and climate change. Laboratory exploration of topics through demonstrations, experimentation, computer data analysis, and modeling.

EESC V2200 Earth's Environmental Systems: Solid Earth. 4.5 points.

BC: Partial Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Laboratory Science (SCI)., Lab Required

Studies plate tectonics: Origin and development of continents, ocean basins, mountain systems on land and sea. Earthquakes, landslides, volcanoes, diamonds, oil. Land-use planning for resource development and conservation. Laboratory exploration of topics through demonstrations, experimentation, computer data analysis, and modeling.

EESC V2300 Earth's Environmental Systems: Life Systems. 4.5 points.

BC: Partial Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Laboratory Science (SCI)., Lab Required
Not offered during 2019-20 academic year.

Prerequisites: Enrollment limited.

Examines role of life in biogeochemical cycles, relationship of biodiversity and evolution to the physical earth, vulnerability of ecosystems to environmental change: causes and effects of extinctions through geologic time (dinosaurs and mammoths) and today. Exploration of topics through laboratories, demonstrations, computer data analysis, modeling, and field trips.

EESC W1030 Oceanography. 3 points.

CC/GS: Partial Fulfillment of Science Requirement
Enrollment limited to 160.

Explore the geology of the sea floor, understand what drives ocean currents and how ocean ecosystems operate. Case studies and discussions centered on ocean-related issues facing society.

EESC W1053 Planet Earth. 3 points.

CC/GS: Partial Fulfillment of Science Requirement
Enrollment limited to 50. Primarily for juniors and seniors.Not offered during 2019-20 academic year.

Prerequisites: high school science and mathematics.

How the Earth works. The unifying concept of plate tectonics is used to examine surface and internal processes in the Earth, including earthquakes, volcanoes, mountain-building, ridge-axis hot springs, formation of continents, renewable and non-renewable energy.

EESC W3015 The Earth's Carbon Cycle. 3 points.

CC/GS: Partial Fulfillment of Science Requirement
Given in alternate years.Not offered during 2019-20 academic year.

Prerequisites: introductory chemistry and environmental science or their equivalents, or the instructor's permission.

Three problems are considered: the identity of the missing sink for fossil fuel CO2, the cause of the low atmospheric CO2 content during glacial time, and the possibility of a tie between tectonics and atmospheric CO2 content.

EESC W4085 Geodynamics. 3 points.

CC/GS: Partial Fulfillment of Science Requirement
Given in alternate years.

Prerequisites: calculus, differential equations, introductory physics.

An introduction to how the Earth and planets work. The focus is on physical processes that control plate tectonics and the evolution of planetary interiors and surfaces; analytical descriptions of these processes; weekly physical model demonstrations.

EESC W4223 Sedimentary Geology. 4 points.

CC/GS: Partial Fulfillment of Science Requirement, Lab Required
Given in alternate years.Not offered during 2019-20 academic year.

Prerequisites: EESC W2200 or equivalent introductory geology course approved by the instructor.

Two required weekend field trips in September. An overview of sedimentology and stratigraphy for majors and concentrators in Earth and environmental sciences, and for graduate students from other disciplines. Lectures, class discussions, labs, and field exercises are integrated, with emphasis on processes, the characteristics of sediments and sedimentary rocks, interpretation of the geological record, and practical applications. Details at http://eesc.columbia.edu/courses/w4223/

EESC W4230 Crustal Deformation. 3 points.

CC/GS: Partial Fulfillment of Science Requirement

Prerequisites: introductory geology and one year of calculus. Recommended preparation: higher levels of mathematics.

Introduction to the deformation processes in the Earth's crust. Fundamental theories of stress and strain; rock behavior in both brittle and ductile fields; earthquake processes; ductile deformation; large-scale crustal contractional and extensional events.

EESC W4929 Mixing and Dispersion in the Ocean. 3 points.

CC/GS: Partial Fulfillment of Science Requirement
Given in alternate years.Not offered during 2019-20 academic year.

Prerequisites: Recommended preparation: some background in fluids, as provided by courses like EESC W4925 or APPH E4200, or the instructor's permission.

Mixing and dispersion in the ocean is of fundamental importance in many oceanographic problems, including climate modeling, paleo and present-day circulation studies, pollutant dispersion, biogeography, etc. The main goal of this course is to provide in-depth understanding (rather than mathematical derivations) of the causes and consequences of mixing in the ocean, and of the properties of dispersion. After introducing the concepts of diffusion and turbulence, instruments and techniques for quantifying mixing and dispersion in the ocean are reviewed and compared. Next, the instabilities and processes giving rise to turbulence in the ocean are discussed. The course concludes with a series of lectures on mixing and dispersion in specific oceanographic settings, including boundary layers, shallow seas, continental shelves, sea straits, seamounts, and mid-ocean ridge flanks.

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