Exploring Earth: Physical Geology [CRN 81233]

Discipline: Geosciences
Instructor: Jordan
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 1530
End: 1650
Field Work: Day 2 | December 3, 2018 | Japan
Prerequisites: None Download Syllabus

Geology is the study of the Earth (and other planetary bodies).  The world that we live on is a result of billions of years of interconnected processes that continue to shape the Earth.  This course aims to provide students with an understanding of the processes by which the Earth was formed and modified, and by which it is still being modified today.  Taking this course during Semester-at-Sea will give students an incredible opportunity to see the geology of the whole Earth and gain first-hand knowledge of the universal nature of geologic processes.  This class WILL change the way that you view the world around you.

By the end of the semester students should, at a minimum, be able to do the following:

  • Know common mineral and rock types and how they are related.
  • Understand how the Earth and the other planets of our solar system formed.
  • Have an understanding of plate tectonic processes and how the processes of plate tectonics were discovered.
  • Have an ability to identify common geologic features and understand how they formed.
  • Understand volcanic processes, both in the marine and terrestrial environments, and what factors determine the type of eruption and volcanic structure.
  • Have an understanding of sedimentation and river dynamics and the hazards associated with them.
  • Understand the coastal processes that produce a shoreline, and gain an appreciation for the dynamic nature of coastal environments.
  • Understand the impact of weather and climate on Earth’s landscapes.
  • Have an understanding of the importance of Earth’s resources – what they are and how they are used, as well as the impacts humans can have for good and bad on these resources.
  • \Have an understanding of the major hazards associated with geologic processes and methods to mitigate those processes.
  • Understand the nature of “deep time,” the age of the Earth, and how it has changed over time.

Field Work

Country: Japan
Day: 2
Date: December 3, 2018

The Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995 was one of the largest and most devastating earthquakes in modern Japanese history. Just prior to the earthquake, the city was ironically dubbed “The World’s Most Earthquake-Proof City.” Much of the devastation was due to a high water table and buildings constructed on reclaimed land, NOT because of the construction of the buildings themselves. During this field experience, students will visit, first, the students will visit the Kobe Disaster Memorial Park, a preserved section of the city showing damage that occurred along the waterfront of Kobe. Second, Nojima Fault Preservation Museum, where they will see exhibits and experience realistic, multimedia recreations of the earthquake, as well as meet survivors of the earthquake. After discussing and observing the dangerous and negative destruction caused by plate tectonics activity, the day will end with a visit to the hot springs at the Arima Historical Retreat and Spa. This is one of the oldest, continually used hot springs in Japan. The hot springs result from magmatic activity that heats the local ground water and enriches it with minerals. We will discuss both the negative and positive aspects of plate tectonics. Learning objectives:

  1. Students will gain insights and realistic virtual experiences in an earthquake event.
  2. Students will gain an understanding of the inter-connected nature of plate tectonics and most earthquakes.
  3. Students will learn how earthquakes and their damage can be mitigated and methods developed to help victims and survivors in an earthquake.
  4. Students will recognize the connection between the geology of Japan and the many earthquakes that occur there.