Jim Kuwabara

City College of San Francisco,
Two Year College


Geologic, chemical and physical history of our oceans including currents, waves, tides and coastal processes. Evolution of the oceans and ocean basins with emphasis on the interaction of the physical environment with chemical and biological processes.

Course Size:

Course Context:

This is an introductory course with no prerequisites. Typically, 50% of the students take the course to satisfy a general education requirement. The course has an optional lab.

Course Goals:

Through this course, students will be able to:
  • Analyze and evaluate the model of Plate Tectonics.
  • Apply the plate tectonics theory to the origin, evolution, and features of ocean basins.
  • Classify and analyze the stratigraphy of ocean floor rocks and sediment (ophiolites).
  • Analyze and interpret the origin, distribution, and evolution of ocean sediment.
  • Demonstrate and explain the unique properties of water and their application to the oceans (surface tension, heat capacity, density-temperature curve, dissolving power, wavelength-specific light absorption, sound transmission).
  • Evaluate the effects of temperature, pressure, and salinity on the density, layering, and dynamics of the oceans.
  • Examine the origin and regulation of, impacts on, and consequences of the ocean's salinity and dissolved gas content.
  • Integrate and evaluate the general circulation and heat transport of the atmosphere and oceans.
  • Analyze and assess the origin, interactions and effects of waves, tides, and ocean currents.
  • Analyze and interpret basic beach processes, including variations in sediment size, coastal-sediment erosion, deposition and transport.
  • Examine and illustrate the origin and foundations of life in the oceans, including photosynthesis, nutrients, nutrient and energy cycling, and traits adapted specifically to marine organisms.
  • Analyze and evaluate the interdependence of the biological, physical, and chemical processes of the oceans.
  • Classify and analyze the pelagic and benthic environments of the ocean.
  • Classify and analyze the basic characteristics and general varieties of phytoplankton and zooplankton.
  • Classify and analyze the basic characteristics and general varieties of marine animals and macro-algae.

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

Learning objectives are accessed through:
  • Class activities
  • iClicker-based discussions
  • Quizzes
  • Exams
  • Group presentations


  • Class activities
  • iClicker-based discussions
  • Quizzes
  • Exams
  • Group presentations
  • Discussions during Study Sessions


Class Syllabus (Microsoft Word 55kB May8 13)