EARTH 202: Earth’s Interior

Course Information:

Size, mass, & density of the earth, seismic waves; earth structure from seismology; minerals and rocks; composition of mantle and core; heat and temperature in the earth, radiometric age dating; origin of the elements, formation of the solar system; meteorites, formation of the planets; continents and oceans, paleomagnetism, continental drift; earthquake focal mechanisms, plate boundaries and kinematics, mechanics of plate tectonics. Prerequisites: MATH 224, PHYSICS 135-1, and CHEM 110 (formerly CHEM 101); or consent of instructor.

Click here for syllabus

Class Handout with Images

Click here for a Map with Plate Boundaries and Relative Motions

Click here for Course Themes

Click here for Seismic Experiment Photos

This website is based on a list of the major topics covered in class. For each topic, we give reading material from texts information about the class demonstrations, and some of the supplementary resources available on the Internet. Try these out and tell us what you think!

Class Topics (Click to go to topic):

  1. Size, mass, & density of the Earth
  2. Seismic waves
  3. Minerals
  4. Composition of the crust, mantle, and core
  5. Radiometric age dating
  6. Origin of the elements and formation of the solar system
  7. Meteorites, formation of the planets
  8. Thermal evolution of planets
  9. Continental drift and paleomagnetism
  10. Earthquakes and plate tectonics
  11. Plate boundaries and kinematics
  12. Sample midterm
  13. Extra Credit

 

Topic 1: Size, mass, & density of the Earth

Lecture Notes

Supplemental Reading

  • Bolt Chapters 1,2

In-class Demonstrations

Exploring the Context

Topic 2: Seismic Waves

Lecture Notes

Supplemental Reading

  • Brown & Mussett pp. 11-20, 27-32

In-class Demonstrations

Exploring the Context

Topic 3: Minerals

Lecture Notes

Supplemental Reading

  • Press & Siever Chapters 1,3

Topic 4: Composition of crust, mantle, and core

Lecture Notes

Supplemental Reading

  • Brown & Mussett Chapters 6,7

In-class Demonstrations:

Virtual Courseware: Earthquake

Exploring the Concepts

Topic 5: Radiometric age dating

Lecture Notes

Supplemental Reading

  • Bolt Chapter 7

In-class Demonstrations:

Virtual Courseware: Earthquake

Exploring the Concepts: the geological time scale

Topic 6: Origin of the elements and formation of the solar system

Lecture Notes

Supplemental Reading

  • Wood Chapter 6
  • Brown & Mussett pp. 43-61

Homework Problems

Exploring the Concepts

Topic 7: Meteorites, formation of the planets

Lecture Notes

Supplemental Reading

  • Wood pp. 157-180
  • Brown & Mussett pp. 61-67, 73, 76-82, 96-101

Exploring the Concepts

Topic 8: Thermal evolution of planets

Lecture Notes

Supplemental Reading

  • Press and Siever Chapters 13,14

In-class Demonstrations

Homework Problems

Exploring the Concepts

Topic 9: Continental drift and paleomagnetism

Lecture Notes

Supplemental Reading

  • Uyeda Chapters 1,2,3

In-class Demonstrations

Homework Problems

Exploring the Concepts

Topic 10: Earthquakes and plate tectonics

Lecture Notes

Supplemental Reading

  • Uyeda Chapters 4,5,6

Topic 11: Plate boundaries and kinematics

Lecture Notes

Supplemental Reading

  • Uyeda Chapters 4,5,6

In-class Demonstrations

Exploring the Concepts

Administrative Stuff

It’s important to keep up, so attending all lectures and lab periods is required. In-class questions cannot be made up.
No portable electronic devices (cell phones, PDAs, laptops etc.) may be used in class.
Homework and labs are due a week after being handed out, at the beginning of class. No credit will be given for late work without prior approval from instructor or TA. Missed labs cannot be made up, given the setup and operational time involved.
On tests, homework, class problems, and labs numerical answers require units and appropriate numbers of significant digits. All work must be shown.
Make-ups are ONLY allowable through advance arrangement with the Office of Studies.
Students may discuss homework and reports with each other, but are expected to work and do their write-ups independently. You can’t look at another student’s work or show them yours.

Extra Credit

The EPS Department hosts speakers who discusses current research. The list of speakers, titles, and dates is here. While not all the speakers cover topics directly relating to this course, and the talks are higher level than the course, it’s an opportunity for enrichment. Thus we offer homework extra credit for a 1-page summary of each talk, on up to 3 talks, each worth 2% of grade, due within two weeks after the talk and by time of second test.

Sample Tests

Click here for a sample midterm

Click here for a second sample test