EART 206 Syllabus
Erik Asphaug, A 108, Office Hours: M 9:00-10:00, Tu
Paul Koch, A250, Office Hours: M 1:00 - 3:00 PM
Quentin Williams, A212, Office Hours: F 1:00 - 3:00
Tu, Th 2:00-3:45 E&MS Room D250
Class website: http://es.ucsc.edu/~pkoch/pages/classes.htm
This course is designed to introduce students to a
broad range of fundamental issues in Earth Sciences by reading and presenting
classic papers that may or may not have been great, but certainly were key in
the development of modern ideas in Earth Sciences. In many instances the
classic paper is paired with a more recent paper for modern perspective. This
class also provides a chance for students to practice their critical thinking
and hone their scientific presentation and discussion skills.
Grading in the class will be based on attendance,
participation, and presentations that students will give on the papers.
Students with more than two unexcused absences will fail the class. Students
will chose papers to present at the first class meeting. Each presentation
should lay out the logic and methods of the paper and cover the main
conclusions. Historical context, on both the ideas and the lead authors, is
relevant and welcome. In many cases, supplemental reading is supplied that will
help presenters (and anyone else curious about the topic). A faculty point
person is assigned for each day (indicate by initial in parentheses after the general subject heading in the syllabus). Before making their presentations, students
should touch base with this faculty member to ensure that their thinking about
the paper is on track and to let the faculty know (roughly) what they plan to
All students are expected to read every
assigned paper. If there are points you do not understand, ask the presenter to
clarify. If we get a sense that students are not reading the papers, we will
begin to assign graded written exercises that will be turned in at the start of
Introduction to Class
Tu 1/6 Introduction
Age of the Earth (QW)
Th 1/8 1.
Kelvin, L., On the secular cooling of the Earth, Trans. Royal Soc.
Edinburgh, vol. XXIII, 295-310,
Badash, L., The age-of-the-Earth debate, Sci. Am., 261, 90-96, 1989. (Quentin)
Stacey, F.D., Kelvin's age of the Earth paradox revisited, J. Geophys. Res.,
105, 13155-13158, 2000. (Quentin)
1. England, P.C., P. Molnar, and F.M. Richter, Kelvin, Perry and the Age of the Earth, American Scientist, 95, 342-349, 2007. (Paper debunking the idea that radioactive heat production was the chief reason for the failure of Kelvin's calculations)
2. Lindley, D., Never at Rest, American Scientist, 96, 504-508. (Review of a recent collection of essays [probably from some death centary event]. Explores why the reputation of someone as obviously brilliant and successful as Kelvin, in the end, has dwindled in comparison to his contemporaries (e.g., Maxwell, Faraday, Joule, Botzmann).
Tu 1/13 1.
Patterson, C., Age of meteorites and the earth, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, 10, 230 237, 1956.
Wilde, S.A., J.W. Valley, W.H. Peck, and C.M. Graham. Evidence from detrital
zircons for the existence of continental crust and oceans on the Earth 4.4 Gyr
ago, Nature, 409, 175-178,
(all related to Wilde et al.)
1. Halliday, A.N., In the beginning..., Nature, 409, 144-145, 2001. (News & Views on Wilde et al. and Mojzsis et al.)
2. Mojzsis, S.J., T.M. Harrison, and R.T. Pidgeon, Oxygen-isotope evidence from ancient zircons for liquid water at the Earth's surface 4,300 Myr ago, Nature, 409, 178-181, 2001. (Earth surface conditions reconstructed from old zircons)
3. Watson, E.B., and T.M. Harrison, Zircon thermometer reveals minimum melting conditions on earliest Earth, Science, 308, 841-844, 2005. (Deeper Earth conditions reconstructed from old zircons)
4. Hopkins, M., T.M. Harrison, and C.E. Manning, Low heat flow inferred from >4 Gyr zircons suggests Hadean plate boundary interactions, Nature, 456, 493-496, 2008. (Speculations on tectonic processes based on studies of old zircons)
Life and Evolution (PK)
Th 1/15 1.
Darwin, C., Chapter XIV, Recapitulation and Conclusion, pp. 459-490, in On the Origin
of Species, 1859. (Paul)
2. Koch presentation on Origins
1. Mayr, E., Introduction, pp. vii-xxvii, in On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin: A Facsimile of the First Edition, Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, MA, 1964. (The party line on Darwin and his role, written by one of the leading evolutionary biologists of the 20th [and early 21st] century. He died in 2005 at the age of 100, having written his last book at age 97.)
2. Gould, S.J., Eternal metaphors of palaeontology, pp. 1-26, in Patterns of Evolution, A. Hallam (ed.), Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1977. (A slightly long and pompous, but highly readable and interesting philosophical paper on the core questions that drive a great deal of paleontological research, and how all the core questions pre-date the theory of evolution).
Tu 1/20 1.
Gould, S.J., and N. Eldredge, Punctuated equilibrium comes of age. Nature, 366, 223-227, 1993.
2. Alroy, J. et al., Phanerozoic trends in the
global diversity of marine invertebrates, Science, 321, 97-100, 2008.
1. Eldredge, N., and S.J. Gould, Punctuated
Equilibria: An Alternative to Phyletic Gradualism, pp. 82-115, in T.J.M. Schopf
(ed.), Models in Paleobiology,
Freeman, Cooper and Co., San Francisco, 1972.
(The paper that started it all, almost.)
2. Gould, S.J., and N. Eldredge. Punctuated
equilibria: the tempo and mode of evolution reconsidered, Paleobiology, 3, 115-151, 1977.
(A mid-stream update. Heading off into the fringes somewhat?)
3. Sepkoski, J.J., Jr., R.K. Bambach, D.M. Raup, and J.W. Valentine, Phanerozoic marine diversity and the fossil record, Nature, 293, 435-437, 1981. (The famous "consensus paper", wherein a bunch of paleontologists get together in the hope that if they all say it at the same time, the problems with their data will disappear. It didn't work.)
4. Sepkoski, J.J., Jr., A factor analytic description of the Phanerozoic marine fossil record, Palebiology, 7, 36-53, 1981. (The title is pretty self-explanatory. A rigorous analysis (using those data) recovers patterns first analyzed in detail by Phillips in 1860 [Life on Earth].)
Origin of the Moon and Solar System Dynamics
Th 1/22 1.
Stevenson, D.J., Origin of the Moon - The Collision Hypothesis, An. Rev.
Earth Planet. Sci., 15, 271-315,
2. Asphaug presentation on the Moon
Tu 1/27 1.
Agnor, C.B., R.M. Canup, and H.F. Levison, On the character and consequences of
large impacts in the late stage of terrestrial planet formation, Icarus, 142, 219-237, 1999.
2. Goldreich, P., and S. Soter, Q in the Solar
System, Icarus, 5, 375-389,
Structure and Composition of the Earth
Th 1/29 1.
Williamson, E.D., and L.H. Adams, Density distribution in the Earth, J.
Wash. Acad. Sci., 13, 413-428,
2. Washington, H., The chemical composition of the
Earth, Am. Jour. Sci., IX,
1. Dziewonski, A.M., A.L. Hales, and E.R. Lapwood,
Parametrically simple Earth models consistent with geophysical data, Physics
Earth Planet. Inter., 10, 12-48,
Tu 2/3 1.
Taylor, S.R., The origin and growth of continents, Tectonophysics, 4, 17-34, 1967.
2. Hawkesworth, C.J., and A.I. Kemp, Evolution of
the continental crust, Nature,
443, 811-817, 2006.
Th 2/5 1.
Peale, S.J., P. Cassen, and R.T. Reynolds, Melting of Io by tidal dissipation, Science,
203, 892-894, 1979.
2. Smith, B.A., E.M. Shoemaker, S.W. Kieffer, and A.F. Cook II, The role of SO2 in volcanism on Io, Nature, 280, 738-743, 1979. (David)
1. Lopes-Gautier, R., A.S. McEwen, W.B. Smythe, et al., Active volcanism on Io: Global distribution and variations in activity, Icarus 140, 243-264, 1999.
Spreading, Reversals, Subduction and Tectonics (QW)
Tu 2/10 1.
Vine, F.J., Spreading of the ocean floor: New evidence, Science, 154, 1405-1415, 1966.
Cox, A., Geomagnetic reversals, Science, 163, 237-245, 1969. (Naor)
1. Parsons, B., and J.G. Sclater, An analysis of the variation of ocean floor bathymetry and heat flow with age, J. Geophy. Res., 82, 803-829, 1977.
2. Stein, C., and S. Stein, A model for the global variation in oceanic depth and heat flow with lithospheric age, Nature, 359, 123-129, 1992.
Th 2/12 1.
Benioff, H. Orogenesis and deep crustal structure: Additional evidence from
seismology, Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 65, 385-400, 1954.
2. Isacks, B. and P. Molnar, Mantle earthquake mechanisms and the
sinking of the lithosphere, Nature,
223, 1121-1124, 1969.
3. Atwater, T., Implications of plate tectonics for
the Cenozoic tectonic evolution of western North America, Geol. Soc. Am.
Bull., 81, 3513-3536, 1970.
Tu 2/17 1. Wilson, J.T., Evidence from islands on the
spreading of ocean floors, Nature,
197, 536-538, 1963.(Lucas)
Morgan, W.J., Convection plumes in the lower mantle, Nature 230, 42-43, 1971.
Courtillot et al., Three distinct types of hotspots in the EarthÕs mantle, Earth
Planet. Sci. Lett., 205, 295-308,
Fluids and Surface Processes (EA)
Th 2/19 1.
Hubbert, M.K., and W.W. Rubey, Role of fluid pressures in mechanics of
overthrust faulting: Part 1, Geol. Soc. Am. Bull., 70, 119-139, 1959. (Erik)
2. Gilbert GK The convexity of hill tops, J.
Geol., 17, 344–350, 1909.
Molnar, P., and P. England, Late Cenozoic uplift of mountain ranges and global
climate change: chicken or egg?, Nature, 346, 29-34, 1990.
Tu 2/24 1. Sagan, C. and G. Mullen, Earth and Mars:
Evolution of atmospheres and surface temperatures, Science, 177, 52-56, 1972.
Canfield, D.E., The early history of atmospheric oxygen: homage to Robert A.
Garrels, An. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci.,
33, 1-36, 2005. (Paul)
Past Climates (PK)
Th 2/26 1.
Arrhenius, S., On the influence of carbonic acid in the air upon the
temperature on the ground, Phil. Mag., 41, 237-276. (Quentin)
Crawford, E., ArrheniusÕ 1896 model of the greenhouse effect in context, in
Rodhe, H. and Charlson, R. (eds.), The Legacy of Svante Arrhenius
Understanding the Greenhouse Effect,
p. 21-32, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, MediaPrint, Uddevalla AB 1998.
Tu 3/3 1.
Hays, J.D., Imbrie, J., and Shackleton, N.J., Variations in the earth's orbit.
Pacemaker of the ice ages. Science, 194, 1121-1132, 1976.
Petit, J.R., J. Jouzel, D. Raynaud, et al., Climate and atmospheric history of
the past 420,000 years from the Vostok ice core, Antarctica, Nature, 399, 429-436, 1999.
North Greenland Ice Core Project members, High resolution record of Northern
Hemisphere climate extending into the last interglacial period, Nature, 431, 147-151, 2004.
Bassinot, F.C., L.D. Labeyrie, E. Vincent, et al., The astronomical theory of
climate and the age of the Brunhes-Matuyama magnetic reversal, Earth Planet.
Sci. Lett., 126, 91-108, 1994.
Shackleton, N.J., The 100,000-year ice-age cycle identified and found to lag
temperature, carbon dioxide, and orbital eccentricity, Science, 289, 1897-1902, 2000.
EPICA community members, Eight glacial cycles from an Antarctic ice core, Nature, 429, 623-628, 2004.
Hard times on the planet (PK, QW or EA)
Th 3/5 1.
Alvarez, L.W., W. Alvarez, F. Asaro, et al., Extraterrestrial cause of the
Cretaceous/Tertiary extinction: experimental results and theoretical
implications. Science, 208,
Renne, P.R., Z. Zhang, M.A. Richards, M.A., et al., Synchrony and causal
relations between Permian-Triassic Boundary Crises and Siberian flood
volcanism, Science, 269,
1. Peters, S., Environmental determinants of extinction selectivity in the fossil record, Nature, 454, 626-629, 2008. (Sea level rises again)
Tu 3/10 1.
Harland, W.B., and M.J.S. Rudwick, The great infra-Cambrian ice age, Sci. Am., 211, 28-36, 1964.
2. Kirschvink, J.L., Late Proterozoic low-latitude global glaciation:
The snowball Earth, in The Proterozoic Biosphere, J.W. Schopf and C. Klein, Eds., p. 51-52,
Cambridge U. Press, 1992.
Hoffman, P.F., A.J. Kaufman, G.P. Halverson, et al., A Neoproterozoic snowball
Earth, Science, 281, 1342-1346,
Hoffman, P.F., and D.P. Schrag, D.P., The snowball Earth hypothesis: testing
the limits of global change, Terra Nova, 14, 129-155, 2002.
Th 3/12 1. Keeling, C.D., R.B.
Bacastow, A.E. Bainbridge, et al., Atmospheric carbon-dioxide variations at
Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii, Tellus, 28, 538-551, 1976.
2. Molina, M.J. and F.S. Rowland, Stratospheric
sink for chlorofluoromethanes - chlorine atomic-catalysed destruction of ozone,
Nature, 249, 810-812, 1974.
3. Steadman, D.W., Prehistoric extinctions of
Pacific island birds - Biodiversity meets zooarchaeology, Science, 267, 1123 -1131, 1995.