In this course you will learn about the structure, material properties, and formation of the materials that comprise the solid Earth and other planetary bodies. For the most part, these solid materials are composed of crystalline minerals. This course covers the physical properties and chemistry of minerals, the fields of optical mineralogy and crystallography, and the identification of minerals as individual crystals and components of rocks. You will also learn about how minerals play a critical role in large-scale systems in the Earth. For example, minerals play a key role in regulating Earth's climate. Complex Earth systems are also responsible for the creation of the ore bodies that provide humanity with an increasingly important variety of materials that are critical to the advancement of technology and sustainable development.
In this course, students take advantage of the breadth of their shared experiences in the Geosciences Department from human dimensions to physical sciences, drawing from geography, earth systems science and geology. The platform of the course uses real-world Geoscience problems facing societies and cultures, incorporating the themes of Water, Air, Energy, Climate and Sustainability. Using readings, print and on-line media, students are encouraged to work through the ways in which integration of their diverse educational experiences leads to new levels of understanding. The semester culminates in team-based projects in which students investigate connections between current Geosciences issues, their education in their major and their experience as UMass undergraduates, with structured opportunities for reflection on both their discipline and themselves as life-long scholars. This course satisfies the Integrative Experience requirement for BS-Earth, BA-Geog, BS-Geog, BA-Geol, and BS-Geol majors, as well as a subset of BS-EnvSci majors.
The oceans cover about 71% of Earth's surface and yet the ocean basins are vast regions still shrouded in mystery, where new discoveries are being made every year. In this course, you will be provided with a basic knowledge of how the global ocean works, how it impacts and controls the habitability of our planet, and how vital it is to our very existence. Major topics that will be explored include: 1) the hydrosphere, atmosphere and global climate, 2) ocean circulation, 3) the marine biosphere, and 4) coastal habitats, natural hazards, and human impacts. Through hands-on classroom activities, the notion of scientific thinking and analysis will be investigated. We will discuss how researchers collect data, form ideas, and then test those ideas. A goal of this course is to understand the scientific theories that help us understand Earth processes and history while gaining a holistic view of our integrated geosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and cryosphere. In addition to a broad introduction to the science of oceanography, and the scientific principles upon which it is based, a main focus of this course is on the importance of the ocean in our daily lives.