GEO110 - EARTH SYSTEMS                                         Spring 2004
Westminster College      

Instructor:     Dr. Alan Goldin, Room Coulter 209
        Office hours: M,W,F 10 A.M.; T 11 A.M.
        Phone: 592-5015 (
Class:        M,W,F 9 A.M., Coulter 139
        Lab: T 2-5 Coulter 139

Study of the basic geographical and earth science principles and processes in the lithosphere (soils and landforms), hydrosphere (hydrologic cycle), atmosphere (weather and climate), and biosphere (biogeography).  Study of the relationships between the natural environment and human habitation on the Earth.   Lab and field exercises and data evaluation will give students an appreciation of the tools of study and more detailed look at the entire system of the Planet Earth in which there is human interaction.

This course satisfies the Tier II requirement for scientific inquiry.

Note: There may be slight alterations in this syllabus as the semester progresses.  Any changes will be announced several times in class as well as announced on our Public Folders web site GEO110.


Period              Lecture Topic                              Strahler Chapter        Lab    
January 14      The Discipline of Geography, Earth in
to        Time and Space, Solar Energy,
February 13    Atmosphere, Radiation, Energy,             1-7        Exercises 1-4
Temperature, Pressure, Wind,                 1st  Lab Exam
Atmospheric and Oceanic Circulations,             February 10
Water and Atmospheric Moisture,
Weather, Climate and Climatic Classification
        *** Exam 1 February 13 ***

February 18    Ecosystem Essentials, Terrestrial Biomes,             Exercises 5-9
to        The Dynamic Planet, Plate Tectonics,             2nd Lab Exam
March 19    Earthquakes, Volcanism, Weathering,     8-14        March 9 or 16
Mass Movement, Geography of Soils           
        *** Exam 2 March 17 ***                   

March 29    Surface water and Groundwater Systems,             Exer. 10-13
to        Fluvial and Karst Landscapes, Glacial and             3rd Lab Exam
April 23    Periglacial Processes and Landforms,     15-19        April 13
Eolian processes and Arid Landscapes,
Coastal Processes and Landforms, Rock Structures
*** Exam 3 April 23 ***

April 26 to 30    Review and catch up                        14

May 9        Optional cumulative take-home final exam

Required: Introducing Physical Geography by Alan Strahler and Arthur Strahler, Third edition, John Wiley and Sons, 2002.

Required: Lab manual on GEO110 Public Folder or in the bookstore

        1. Three examinations on lecture/textbook material.  All exams will cover only material discussed since the previous exam, except as new material relates to previously tested material.   Exams will be a combination of true-false, multiple choice, matching, fill-in, problems, and essay.  Every effort should be made to take the exams.  The best three count toward your grade.  Exams will be given February 13, March 17, and April 23.  *****NO****  make-up exams will be given!!!!!!   An optional final exam will be given during final exam week.  If you miss an exam, either an approved paper must be written or the final exam must be taken.  If two exams are missed, both the paper and final exam must be written.  All students with less than a 79.9 average on April 28 will be required to take the final exam.

    2. A five-to-ten page paper on a course-related topic covered this semester can replace an exam that is taken, unless an illness precludes your taking an exam.  Under such circumstances, a doctor's note will be required.  The paper is due no later than March 31.  NO extensions.  The topic MUST be approved by the instructor by March 1.  Papers MUST also be approved by the Writing Lab.  Submit their approval form with your paper.  You cannot change your topic after March 1.  Failure to get written approval will result in a one letter grade loss.  Don't wait until the last minute to write the paper.  The paper MUST be proofread and spellchecked.  One point will be deducted for any more than two mistakes in proofreading or spelling.  Guidelines are on the GEO110 web folder.  Because of the deadlines, if the third exam is missed, the paper is not an option.  The paper requires three refereed journals to be referenced.  Failure to follow guidelines will result in grade penalties.  Using GEOREF is preferable to EBSCOHost.

    3. Quizzes will be given every week on Wednesday except exam weeks.  April 7's quiz will be given April 9.  These will take no more than 10-15 minutes.  Staying current with the course material will maximize your scores on these quizzes.  The best 10 will count toward your grade.

    4. Homework assignments will be given on a regular basis with specific due dates.  Failure to turn in the assignment on the due date will result in a loss of one grade until one week late and a zero if turned in more than one week late.  Approximately 80% of the assignments will count toward your grade.

        5. A map quiz identifying the names and locations of mountain ranges, lakes, seas, and ocean currents worldwide will be given March 3.  The list is on the GEO110 public folder.

    6. The laboratory part of the course will include lab exercises and field trips.  The lab grade will come from lab exams held every four weeks covering material from the labs since the previous exam.  The exam dates are February 10, March 9 or 16, and April 13.  These exams will be open-book.  The best three exams will count towards your grade.  An optional cumulative lab exam will be given on April 27.  Lab reports from the field trips will count as extra credit added to your total score for the labs.  The lab exercises are not required to be handed in, but their completion will certainly help in your open-book lab exam.  If you hand in the lab reports, the instructor will review and return promptly.

    7. Attending class and lab is an essential part of your grade. You are allowed a maximum of three excused (or unexcused) absences.  Each absence is worth 5 points.  If you use <3 for the semester, your attendance grade will be 100.  If you are absent 4 or more times, each of the absences will count its five-point grade loss, so that with four absences, your attendance grade will be 80.  It is YOUR responsibility to give me a doctor's or coach's note for each and every absence.  This note MUST be delivered no later than the next class or the absence counts as "unexcused."  The note from the coach can be similar to the following: "Mary Jones is on the softball team.  She missed your class on February 4 due to her participation in a softball game in Springfield, Illinois." It MUST be signed and dated.  Similarly, the physician's note must be specific.  It is YOUR responsibility to get this note delivered on time.  It is also your responsibility to sign in for class each day as well as to deliver ALL assignments on time.

    8. Class notes: This is mostly a lecture-oriented class, but  class participation is encouraged and expected.  You should expect to be called upon to express your understanding.  Your responses will affect your grade.  Everyone should have a notebook and take appropriate notes.  Exam questions will come from lectures, class discussions, and readings. 

    9. Reading assignments: The chapter for each lecture topic should be read before class and reviewed after class to get the full benefit.

    10. Be sure to check our web folder regularly.  I will communicate with you in this fashion outside of class.

Any student who feels that he or she may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the instructor to arrange an appointment at his/her earliest convenience.  At that time, we can discuss the course format, anticipate your needs, and explore possible accommodations.  Westminster's ADA policy can be found  on the college's website for from the Learning Disability in the basement of Westminster Hall.


     Exams (best three):        30%
     Quizzes (best 10):            15%
     Map Quiz:                10%
     Homework                10%
     Attendance            10%
     Laboratory:            25% 


     1. To describe which type of physical features are located on the earth's surface and where they are.

     2. To explain why and how physical processes act to shape the earth.

     3. To evaluate different environments on the earth in terms of their life-supporting capacity.

     4. To understand how and why humankind interacts with the environment.


     1. Study of the atmosphere and the ways in which it furnishes light, heat, and water to the life layer and how variations in the atmosphere affect the different life-supporting processes.

     2. Study of the solid earth to understand the geologic and pedologic principles essential for understanding the formation of the earth's crust and mineral resources.

     3. Study of the configuration of the earth's land surface, (landforms, soils, vegetation, and hydrologic features) and the processes that shape them.

     4. In order to achieve the overall objectives of the course, explanation will be given of the spatial distribution of elements of the physical environment, including current patterns on the landscape and why and how these patterns came into existence.


Agulhas Current                Amazon
Alaska Current                Amur
Benguela Current                Euphrates
Brazil Current                    Ganges
California Current                Hwang-Ho
Canaries Current                Lena
East Australian Current            MacKenzie
Equatorial Current                Mekong
Gulf Stream                    Missouri-Mississippi
Humboldt Current                Murray (Australia)
Kuroshio (Japan Current)            Niger
Labrador Current                Nile
North Atlantic Drift                Ob-Irtysh
North Pacific Drift                Parana
Oyashio (Kamchatka Current)        Volga
West Australia Current             Yangtse
West Wind Drift                Yenisey
Zaire (Congo)

LAKES                    OCEANS AND SEAS

Aral Sea                    Baltic Sea
Lake Baykal                    Bering Sea
Caspian Sea                    Black Sea
Lake Chad                    Caribbean Sea
Lake Erie                    East China Sea
Great Bear Lake                Hudson Bay
Great Slave Lake                Sea of Japan
Lake Huron                    Mediterranean Sea
Lake Malawi                    Gulf of Mexico
Lake Michigan                    North Sea
Lake Ontario                    Sea of Okhotsk
Lake Superior                    Red Sea
Lake Tankanyika                South China Sea
Lake Victoria                    Yellow Sea
Lake Winnipeg


Andes            Rockies
Alps            Sierra Nevadas
Atlas            Urals