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GEOL 16: Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Moving Continents

Allan Ludman

(Submission #159)

Course Description

Geology 16 examines the observations and reasoning that, after a span of more than 400 years, led 20th century geoscientists to develop the astonishing plate tectonic theory—that the outermost 100km of the Earth comprises several blocks (“plates”) capable of moving independently of one another. Students will revisit simple observations, such as the apparent fit of the east coast of South America with the west coast of Africa in the light of modern geologic knowledge, and learn how modern science and technology provided the most conclusive evidence based on Earth’s ancient magnetic field.

The importance of plate tectonics as a unifying theory in Geology is presented, showing how previously misunderstood or enigmatic questions are answered by this theory, and how it helps explain the causes of such apparently disparate phenomena as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. These natural processes become natural disasters when they affect populated areas, and the course not only examines the plate tectonic causes of these phenomena, but also why they can be so devastating.


Area of Knowledge and Inquiry: Natural Science (NS)
Context of Experience: Not Applicable
Extended Requirement: Not Applicable

Additional Course information

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: none
Existing Course: Existing
Existing Course Number: GEOL 16
Course Anticipated to be offered: Every Semester
Other (if specified): 
Number of Sections: 1 day, 1 evening
Number of Seats: 110


[Justification, Materials, Assessment, Administration (DOC)]   [Syllabus/Syllabi (DOC)]  

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