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Introduction to Geophysics

Author Profile
Michael John Harris
,
harrismj@jmu.edu

James Madison University
a
Public four-year institution, primarily undergraduate
.

Summary

An introduction to the theories of geophysical methods, concentrating on shallow-level and environmental issues. Gravity, magnetics, electrical resistivity, IP and SP measurements, seismic refraction and reflection, GPR. Most instruments will be demonstrated and used in field situations

Course URL:
Subject: Geoscience:Geology:Geophysics
Resource Type: Course Information:Goals/Syllabi
Special Interest: Field-Based Teaching and Learning
Grade Level: College Upper (15-16)
Course Type: Upper Level:Geophysics
Course Size:

less than 15

Course Context:

This is an upper division elective course in the B.S. Geology Major and a potentially required course in the B.A. Earth Science Major (either Geophysics or a second Physics course). Pre-requisites include one calculus course and one physics course. The course consists of three lecture hours and two lab hours, with the lab being fieldwork intensive.

Course Goals:


How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

JMU presently has modern instrumentation for magnetics, electrical resistivity, IP and SP measurements, seismic refraction and reflection, and GPR field work. Due to time and weather constraints, most lab time is devoted to collected field data on the local campus. Data corrections and interpretations are worked into the lectures. Homework calculations followed by class discussions provide some assessment of whether the goals were achieved. Mid-term and final exams also have practical questions to further evaluate the understanding of the theories and uses of the instruments.

Skills Goals


How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Class time stresses the theory behind an instrument, then a field demonstration is done and a project area is introduced. Students then have a week to plan on their own survey to collect the data as efficiently as possible. Following the data collection, discussion of the positives and negatives of the instrument, the survey and the data interpretation ensues. Ideally new problems arise during the next instrumental project, and the old problems are resolved.

Attitudinal Goals


How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Geophysical field work can be collected with undergraduates and technicians, and data is later interpreted in a lab by a geophysicist, with limited knowledge of the field area. While interpretations can be formulated, sometimes anomalies are due to something in the area not seen by the geophysicist, but not thought to be a problem by the data collector. By observing, collecting, and interpreting the data a student will realize that the field is a complex environment, and while an answer could be easy, there could be several versions of one.

Assessment

Labs/field work is based on participation and involvement (partially subjective). Some field/lab-based questions are found on the mid-term and final exams. Classroom theory material are a combination of true/false, multiple choice, short answer questions. Personally I'd place lab/field work marks between one-third and one-half of the semester grade.

Syllabus:

Syllabus (Microsoft Word 30kB Jun19 07)

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