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 SCI 141 - Earth System Science I

​This course introduces you to the broad field of Earth Science. Earth Science in general and in all its sub disciplines is a very exiting field; you will never look at mountains, rivers and oceans in the same way after taking this course. Earth science is receiving more attention than ever, because of global warming and the seemingly increased frequency of earth quakes, tsunamis and hurricanes. You will discover in this course that the phenomena observed on and in the earth, are linked to processes and that our Earth, contrary to many other planets, is alive!  Apart from the regular classes and lectures, there will be practicals for mineral and rock determination and a geological mapping/profiling practical.

While studying the common geological phenomena, we will browse through major sub disciplines such as geophysics, paleontology, mineralogy, petrology, sedimentology, (marine) geochemistry, earth history, climatology, and economic and environmental geology. Each one of these sub disciplines could easily fill a semester. In universities these sub disciplines are usually taught by several professors that have specialized in one of the subdiscplines. This course will be taught by two professors based on the main division in earth science in geology (Earth’s surface) and geophysics (deep earth).

Students will see that most observations concerning the deep Earth are made at and above the surface, that the features of the surface are shaped by deep earth processes, and that certain components of surface processes penetrate the deep interior. Such interactions are exemplified by geochemical analyses of surface rocks that reveal the composition and flow history of the mantle, by heat flow from the core that is the source of volcanic island chains and rift valleys, and by large weather systems that initiate planet-wide seismic vibrations.

Since geology is a typical outdoor science, you will not have a complete introduction without a fieldtrip. Earth scientists often spend time in the field to collect samples or data for research, such as structural data, fossils, water/rock/soil samples, seismic data, etc. During this course we will collect structural data and rocks (maybe fossils) in the Ardennes in Belgium. You will see that nearly all subdisciples are demonstrated during this fieldtrip. You will collect data in the field and process these data at home and write a report which will include a geological profile of the Ardennes area we will investigate. In doing so, you will put to test your knowledge of the various subdisciplines.


Dr. Joseph Resovsky and Dr. Renata van der Weijden


Earth Science

Required for

This course is required in order to take the following course:

  • S​CI 241 Earth System Science II