Geology 310:

Earth and Space Systems

Spring 2005


Dr. Dean Moosavi                                           Office: Trafton N254

Office Phone: 507-389-6323                          Office Hours:  M, W 1 – 4 PM, T 7- 8 PM by Appt.



Meeting Times:  M,W  4 - 5:50 (TN296)     2 all day out of class field trips


Course Objectives:


            Geology 310 builds upon your experience in Geology 121 and Astronomy 101 to expand your understanding about the physical foundation of our world by focusing on concepts from geomorphology, glaciology, climatology and astronomy.  We will be looking at the landscape, earth, atmosphere and planets as an integrated system. My goal is to help prepare you to facilitate grade school student learning that develops a broad understanding of the what and why behind the physical and chemical foundation of our world to enable these young people to make educated decisions pertaining to natural resource and environmental issues in an increasingly technical world. While we will focus on content, connections to pedagogy will be made as time and material allow. This course helps to satisfy Minnesota teacher licensure requirements for secondary science educators and elementary educators seeking the science concentration.




            Specific course prerequisites consist of AST 101, CHEM 201, and GEOL 121.  If you have special needs please feel free to discuss these with us.  Students with a disability should please let us know and contact the Disability Services Office (AH 117, # 389-2825) or the Learning Center (ML 0132, 389-1791).


Text:   The Blue Planet, An introduction to earth system science, 2nd Ed., Skinner, Porter, and

Botkin, John Wiley & Sons, 2002.

A general chemistry book (various authors) would also be helpful.


Materials:      Graph Paper, Colored Pencils, etc. typical of classroom activities.

                        Appropriate Clothing/Footwear for field trips.




  1. Attend all classes and one of each field trip.  If you have a conflict due to illness or family matter, please contact Dr. Moosavi PRIOR to the event to let me know.
  2. Read the assigned materials prior to the lecture in which they appear on the reading list.
  3. ASK questions and PARTICIPATE in class.
  4. Be an honorable student and scholar. (See notes below regarding academic honesty.)







Assignments/Quizzes, Problem Sets/Tests:


A variety of activities will be used in this class to promote your learning and understanding of the material.  While assessment is important, it is a secondary aspect of most of the activities.   Some assignments will involve making or interpreting maps, graphs, and diagrams.  Others will involve making hypotheses, performing experiments and evaluating the results.  In some cases you will need to present your results to your peers in an informal manner. All classroom activities will be judged for class participation. Quizzes and tests will involve your ability to interpret a particular set of observations or data in a geologic setting using slides or actual field observations and samples. Given the importance of good writing, some assignments will have an essay component. We will have the opportunity this semester to work with brand new, state of the art web based earth science educational modules being developed by NASA.  Your feedback will help to shape the fine-tuning of these instructional aids. Do not be overwhelmed by the list, as many of these assignments will be relatively short and straight-forward to complete.


Field Trips:


There will be 3 field trips in the class. While the last will be held entirely during lab time on Friday,the 2 all day trips up the Minnesota River Valley and to Taylor’s Falls will potentially require you to miss other classes. Letters regarding the need to miss regularly scheduled activities on field trip days will be available for those needing them.  Thank you for your understanding in this matter.




Students will be evaluated on the basis of total points completed.  You should assume the typical 10-point grading system (90–100 = A, 80-89 = B, etc.) A total of 700 points are scheduled to be awarded. Time constraints may force us to consolidate/drop and assignment, however, so consider this to be tentative.  The points are divided into the following assignments with the following weights:



Point Value

          Due Date

Planet’s Assignment



Impact Cratering



Astroventures (3)



Planetary Motions Packet



Atmospheric Circulation Packet



Ocean Circulation Packet



Chemistry Project



Rock Classification Activity



Divergent Boundary Quiz



Stratigraphy Practice Problem



Sedimentary Environments Quiz



Field Trip Project (Taylor’s Falls)



Stratigraphy Final Problem



Rivers Problem Set



Diversity Assignment



Iron Range Packet



Final Exam




Geology 310 Tentative Course Schedule


Date    Content                                  Topic                                                              Assignment Due

1/19     I, II      Introduction/Standards, Earth/Moon/Solar System Formation            Student Info


1/24     II         Earth/Moon/Solar System Formation

1/26     XV       Planetary Evolution – Extraterrestrial Life                                           Planets Activity


1/31     II, XV  Astroventures –Astronomy, Geology, Atmospheric Science    (Moosavi Not Present)           

2/2       II         Atmospheric Formation                                                                       Impacts Activity


2/7       II         Atmospheric Structure/Ozone Chemistry                                            Astroventures (3)

2/9       XII       Solar System Motions                                                                        


2/14     XII       Solar System Motions/Eclipses -Kinestethic Astronomy                   

2/16     XII       Earth/Sun Relations – Milankovitch Theory   


2/21     XIII     Atm. Circulation Greenhouse Gas Theory                                          Planetary Motions

2/23     XIV     Ocean Circulation                                                                                Atmospheric Packet


2/28     X         Glaciation Causes, Paleoclimate Studies                                              Ocean Circ. Packet

3/2       X         Climate Change/Earth in the Balance


3/7       III        Mixtures, Separations, Chromatography

3/9       III        Kinetic Molecular Model                                                                    Chemistry Packet



3/21     IV        Rock Cycle – – Rock Identification Activity                                       

3/23     V        Plate Tectonics - Divergent Structures                                                 Rock Classification


3/28     V         Plate Tectonics - Divergent Structures

3/30     IV, V    Divergent Boundary Quiz, Plate Tectonics - Convergent Structures


4/4       IV, V    Plate Tectonics - Convergent Structures

4/6       VIII     Sedimentary Basin Structures, Stratigraphy


4/11     VIII     Stratigraphy - Sandwich Stratigraphy

4/13      IX       Time/Fossil Record/Catastrophism/Uniformitarianism                       Stratigraphy Pract.

4/14-15  XI      Taylor’s Falls Field Trip A/B (8-6)


4/18     VIII     Sedimentary Environments Quiz, Field Trip Reflections             

4/20     VI        Hydrologic Cycle, Rivers                                                                    Field Trip Packet


4/25     VI        Hydrologic Cycle, Rivers                                                                    Stratigraphy Final

4/27     VI        Stream Valley Evolution         

4/28-29  VII    Minnesota River Valley Field Trip A/B (8-6)


5/2       III        Chemical Equilibrium, Le Chatelier’s Principle, Biogeochemistry      Rivers Packet.

5/4       III        MN Iron Range Lab                                                                            Diversity Assign


5/11                 Field Final Exam      2:45 – 5:30 PM                                               Iron Range Packet                                                

Note:   Roman numerals tie into the course standards in Handout Number 2.

Academic Honesty:


Recent incidents of cheating require adoption of the following strict policy regarding academic honesty.


1.     All students MUST turn in their own individual work.  While some assignments may involve group activities and experiments, ALL materials turned in MUST represent the student’s OWN work.

·      Example 1: Two students collect data and observations from a single experiment. The quantified data will be identical between the students, but the phrasing of observations, hypotheses and interpretation of data MUST be created individually and described in the student’s own words.

·      Example 2: Two students work together in attempting to interpret a geologic environment.  The students ask each other questions in the early stages about a particularly troublesome feature.  After some mutual assistance they then complete the project independently. This is appropriate.  If, however, the students had continued to work together and had generated a common interpretation of the problem, which they then typed separately, this would not be appropriate.

2.     Detection:  Cheating on assignments will usually be detected by finding incidents of work that is either identical or essentially similar in content.  A factual question with a one or two word answer will obviously be similar across student work, but more complex answers that have been created in appropriately will be identified when the ideas, wording and presentation are extremely close. Work need not be word for word identical to be plagiarized as it is the ideas that have been lifted inappropriately.

3.     Consequences: Students whose work is not original will have points from the affected assignments divided evenly between all parties to the incident unless one party is willing to come forward and admit to cheating without the knowledge of their peers.  In this case, the dishonest student will forfeit all points. There will be no opportunity for make up work on the affected assignment in any event.

4.     If students elect to challenge this decision and policy they may do so according to the rules in the student handbook. However, the instructor reserves the right to then pursue the academic dishonesty procedures available in the Statement of Student Responsibilities, which can include expulsion from the university.