Global Geophysics

Geoscience 390

Spring 2010

Capsule Description:

Alt yrs.; 3 cr (I). Methods of geophysics applied to earth structure and plate tectonics. Principles of seismology, gravity, magnetism and heat flow. P: Math 221.

Purpose of this Course:

This course present the principles of geophysics at an intermediate level suitable for undergraduate majors. This course may be substituted for Geoscience 302 to fulfill the requirements for the major in Geology and Geophysics.



Prof. Chuck DeMets

Room A250

Weeks Hall


Prof. Kurt Feigl

Room A248

Weeks Hall

11:00 AM - 12:00 AM

Tue. & Thu.



Each student is required to attend two (2) lectures per week, TuTh 9:30AM - 10:45AM in room A257 of Weeks Hall. 


The syllabus, including reading assignments and exercises, will be posted  later. The table of contents for the textbook may be found here 



Required Textbook:

Kearey, P., Klepeis, K.A. & Vine, F.J., 2009. Global tectonics, 3rd edition Blackwell Publishing, Malden, MA.

ISBN: 978-1-4051-0777-8
496 pages

Almost all of this book will be assigned during the term, as described in the syllabus.  A basic knowledge of the assigned parts, not all of which will be covered in lecture, is essential for your understanding of the subject.  The book is available at the University Book Store.


New: $88 from publisher.

Used: $55 from Amazon. 

Recommended Computer Software:

Mathworks MatLab & Simulink

Student Version

Release 2009A

The license is valid as long as the Student is a registered Student in a Degree-Granting Institution.

DOIT Item Number: C52747


$98 at DOIT


Letter grades of A, AB, B, BC, C, D, or F will be based on a curve that determines the students' relative standing with respect to other students.  The overall curve and an absolute standard of achievement, as judged by the professors, will both be factors in grade allocation. Letter grades assigned to the mid-term test have only relative significance; the number grade is what will be figured into the course final grade. Thus it is important to hand in all assignments. The weighting will be as follows:

Class Participation
The lectures, discussions and reading assignments, while roughly covering the same material, also provide unique aspects of the course.  Students must display competence in both lecture and discussion to pass the course.  Therefore, attendance is required. Since participation will be assessed using clickers during lectures, bring your clicker to each lecture.


Problem Sets
Discussion and group learning will be encouraged . However, all written assignments are to be individual work, unless expressly stated otherwise by the instructor. If text is paraphrased or copied from another person or source, it must be referenced. Assignments will be due either at the end of your discussion section or at the beginning of your discussion section the following week.  The instructor will announce the due date for the assignments on a weekly basis.   Discussion section assignments will be scored out of 10 points.  Late assigments will be accepted up to one week after the due date.  Late assignments will be scored out of 5 points and after one week a score of zero (0) will be assigned.  

Midterm Exam
One 50-minute mid-term exam is scheduled as indicated on the schedule. The exams will be a combination of T/F, multiple choice and short answer questions.  A short essay question may be included.  They will be, in part, computer-graded so be prepared and bring #2 pencils to the exams. No books, notes or electronics may be used during the exam. A make-up exam will not be provided unless requested 24 hours in advance.

Final Exam
The 2-hour final exam will be about half on the new material since the mid-term and half cumulative overview. No books, notes or electronics may be used during the exam. A make-up exam will not be provided unless requested 24 hours in advance.

Total:  3 credits


How to request an accommodation

Top 10 reasons to register for Geoscience 390 - Global Geophysics - in Spring 2010

10. Find out if you want to major in Geology and Geophysics by taking an intermediate-level course in Geoscience that has no pre-requisites in the department*.

9. Geoscience 302 (Chemistry and Physics of the Earth's Interior) will not be offered in academic year 2009-2010.

8. Geoscience 390 will count as a substitute for Geoscience 302 to meet the requirements for the major in Geology and Geophysics.

7. Learn about The Plate Tectonic Theory from Prof. Chuck DeMets, the author of the best available models for describing the plates' motions.

6. Learn about gravity, seismology, geodesy, magnetic anomalies and heat flow without having to take a hard math class.

5. Learn how to use Matlab to make cool figures to show off your data.

4. Use a new textbook (Kearey et al., 2009) with excellent figures.

3. Find out what all those folks huddling over computers in the east wing of the first floor are working on.

2. Learn why the acceleration due to gravity is not always 9.800 m/s/s everywhere.

1. Learn to interpret a beach-ball (a.k.a. earthquake focal mechanism)

*One semester of calculus is a pre-requisite, though.