Geology 117: the Oceans

Final Exam info: 

9:00 to 11:00 AM, Saturday, 3 MAY

141 Loomis

No late arrivals allowed.

Class Meets:

MWF 11:00 to 11:50 in 112 Chem Annex

Prof. Thomas Johnson, 244-2002,

Office Hours:  12:00 to 1:00 MWF, or by Appointment, or just drop in!

Office Location: 211 Natural History (come in through room 208); Northeast corner of main floor


"The Water Planet." The presence of a huge amount of liquid water, most of which is in the oceans, makes the planet habitable. It controls our weather from thousands of miles away, and absorbs some of the carbon dioxide humans have put into the atmopshere. Under its waves lie fascinating ocean bottom features like coral reefs, mountain chains, chimneys belching sulfur-rich water, earthquake faults, volcanoes, and trench-like gashes up to 11 kilometers deep. The layers of mud that slowly collect on the ocean bottom provide some of our best records of events in the earth's past and hold some of the most important supplies of oil that fuel the world economy. The oceans contain a huge array of animals, from whales to clams, and the majority of plant life on earth.

This semester, we will learn about the oceans, geology and science by addressing questions like these:

Why does the earth have deep ocean basins and continents, instead of just a shallow ocean covering everything?

How is the ocean floor shaped and how did the features observed there help lead to a complete overturn of ideas about how the earth moves inside, how moutains are created, why earthquakes occur where they do, and why volcanoes occur where they do?

What makes the vast ocean currents move and how do these current sometimes cause changes in weather and natural disasters?

What causes tsunamis, the huge ocean waves that have killed people and destroyed cities?

How do food chains and ecosystems in the oceans work and why do we have so many strange and beautiful creatures in the oceans?

How much food can we expect to harvest sustainably from the oceans as the world's populations continues to grow?