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Course 12.710

Geological Oceanography

Fall, 2016

Instructors:    Liviu Giosan             (WHOI,   Clark 253,      x2257,

Dan Lizarralde          (WHOI,   Clark 260,      x2942,

Olivier Marchal        (WHOI,   Clark 109A,   x3374,

Adam Soule              (WHOI,   Clark 272C,   x3213,


Class Times, Places:     Tues./Thurs.  1:00pm-2:30pm, Watson 201,


Class Website:


Course Description:  This course provides a high level survey of a broad range of active science topics in Geological Oceanography.  The course presents background material that graduate students are expected to know in the disciplines of solid-earth geophysics, geochemistry, sedimentology and stratigraphy, coastal processes, and climate, including a representative set of canonical science papers, and builds on this material to give a sense of the current state of the science in these fields.  Broad topics include the formation of the earth, petrogenesis, volcanism, plate tectonics, geodynamics, sedimentation in the oceans, coastal morphodynamics, paleo-oceanography, and climate.  The interconnectedness of and feedbacks between processes discussed under these various topics is emphasized throughout the course.


The course is taught in four sections, representing the four core disciplines of the WHOI G&G department: Solid Earth, Geochemistry, Sediments and Coastal Processes, and Climate.


There will be two 1 1/2 hour-long lectures each week.  Problem sets will be regularly assigned.  Class size is typically small, and so class participation is an important component of learning in this course.


Text/Readings:  Because of the breadth of topics covered, there is no single textbook that is adequate for the purpose.  Lecture notes will be available online for each class along with reading assignments in several relevant textbooks placed on reserve or in journals.  Students are responsible for the material covered in both the lectures and the reading.


Grading:          Mid-term exam - 25%

                        Class participation -25%

                        Problem Sets/writing assignments - 25%

                        Final exam - 25%

Marine Geology and Geophysics, 12.710

Fall 2016, Tue/Thur 1:00-2:30, Watson 201


Formation of the Earth, Petrogenesis and Volcanism

9/08         (Soule)             Formation of the universe: cosmochemistry

9/13         (Soule)             Geologic time: radioactivity and geochronology

9/15         (Soule)             Igneous petrogenesis

9/20         (Soule)             Mid-Ocean Ridges

9/22         (Soule)             Mantle plumes and ocean islands

9/27         (Soule)             Subduction and volcanic arcs

Sedimentation in the oceans and Coastal processes

09/29       (Giosan)           The Sediment Factory: From Source to Sink

10/04       (Giosan)           Continental Margins: Sedimentology and Sequence Stratigraphy

10/06       (Giosan)           Flowing Water: Sediment Transport

10/11       (Giosan)           The Coast: Landscapes and Seascapes

10/13       (Giosan)           The Anthropocene: Humans as Geomorphic Agents

10/18       (Giosan)           Modeling: Waves and Coastal Morphodynamics


10/20       Mid Term Exam


Paleo-oceanography and Paleo-climatology

10/25       (Marchal)         The Climate System and Climatic Indicators

10/27       (Marchal)         The Orbital Hypothesis of Climate Change

11/01       (Marchal)         The Pleistocene Ice Ages

11/03       (Marchal)         Abrupt Climate Changes: Dansgaard-Oeschger Events & Heinrich Events

11/08       (Marchal)         The Last Glacial Maximum & The Last Deglaciation

11/10       (Marchal)         Quantitative Analysis of Paleoclimate Records

Solid Earth Geophysics

11/15       (Lizarralde)      Whole Earth Structure

11/17       (Lizarralde)      Earth’s Lithosphere: Formation and Evolution

11/22       (Lizarralde)      Plate Boundary Processes

11/24                              Thanksgiving

11/29       (Lizarralde)      Seismology:  Earthquakes and Earth imaging

12/01       (Lizarralde)      Potential fields, electro-magnetics, linear inverse theory

12/06       (Lizarralde)      Whole Earth Tomography/Geodynamics


12/08       Final Exam

12.710 Recommended Textbooks

(may be on reserve in Lindgren Library, Building 54, MIT, and in Clark 237, WHOI)


Press and Siever, Understanding Earth, W.H. Freeman & Co., 1998.

Fowler, C.M.R., The Solid Earth, Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Stacey,F.D., Physics of the Earth, 3rd Edition, Brookfield Press, 1992.

Cox, A., Plate Tectonics and Geomagnetic Reversals, W.H. Freeman and Co., 1973.

Turcotte, D.L., and G. Schubert, Geodynamics, Wiley & Sons, 1982.


Faure, G. Principles and Applications of Geochemistry, Prentice Hall, 1998

Kennett, J., Marine Geology and Geophysics, 1982.


Seawater: Its composition, properties and behaviour, The Open University, 1989.

Ocean Chemistry and deep-sea sediments, The Open University, 1989.

Boggs, S. Jr., Principles of Sedimentology and Stratigraphy, Merrill Publishing Co., 1987.

Einsele, G. Sedimentary Basins - Evolution, Facies, and Sediment Budget, Springer-Verlag, 1992.

Dronkers, J., Dynamics of Coastal Systems: Singapore, World Scientific, 2005.

Komar, P.D., Beach Processes and Sedimentation: Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, Simon & Schuster, 1998.

Woodroffe, C.D., Coasts: Form, process, and evolution: Cambridge University Press, 2003..

Nittrouer, C.A. et al., Continental Margin Sedimentation: From Sediment Transport to Sequence Stratigraphy: Wiley-Blackwell, 2007.

Bender, M., Paleoclimate, Princeton Primers in Climate, 306 pp., 2013

Broecker, W.  The Glacial World According to Wally, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Eldigio Press, 318 pp., 1995

Bradley R. S., Paleoclimatology, Reconstructing Climates of the Quaternary, Academic Press, vol. 64 of International Geophysics Series, 613 pp., 1999

Ruddiman, W. F.,  Earth’s Climate : Past and Future, Second Edition, W. H. Freeman and Company, 388 pp., 2008

Saltzman B., Dynamical Paleoclimatology – Generalized Theory of Global Climate Change, Academic Press, vol. 80 of International Geophysics Series, 354 pp., 2002



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