EAS 4312/6312: Geodynamics

Fall, 2013

Syllabus (PDF version)
Instructor: Andrew Newman
Office: ES&T 2254

Select information from lectures
Class Project


When: August 19 - December 6 2013; Mon., Wed., Fri., 12:05 - 12:55 pm
Where: ES&T L1116
Office Hours: Tues. and Fri. from 3-4 pm, or by appointment. If I am not in my office check the Geophysics Lab (room 2235).
Course Objectives:This course is a quantitative discussion of the physical properties of earth materials and dynamic processes in the solid Earth. We will closely follow Geodynamics by Turcotte & Schubert, in covering topics in stress and strain, elasticity and flexure, heat transfer, gravity, fluid mechanics, rock rheology, and crustal faulting as mechanisms and consequences of plate tectonics.
Required Text:
  • Turcotte, D.L., & G. Schubert, Geodynamics: 2nd Edition, Cambridge University Press, 456 pp., 2002.
Referenced Text (no need to purchase):
  • Kearey, P. & F.J. Vine, Global Tectonics, Blackwell Publishing, 333 pp., 1996.
  • Stein, S.A.,& M. Wysession, An Introduction to Seismology, Earthquakes, and Earth Structure, Blackwell Publishing, 498 pp., 2003.
Class Communications: You will occasionally receive class information via email to your prism account. Because this information may not be communicated in class, you should be sure to read messages identified as [EAS: Geodynamics]. In emailing me for class, please add [EAS: Geodynamics] to the subject line and identify yourself by name in the message since not all prism accounts clearly identify the email's author.

Course Outline:

This is an approximate outline of topics and timing and is subject to change throughout the semester.
Week Date Topic HW/Exams
1,2Aug 19 - Aug 30 Introduction to Plate Tectonics, Geodynamics and mathematical approximation
3Sept 2 Labor Day (no class)
3,4Sept 4 - 13 Stress and Strain in SolidsHomework 1
5,6Sept 16 - 27 Elastic DeformationHomework 2
7-9Sept 30 - Oct 9 Heat Transfer (Driving force for Tectonics)
8Oct 11 Exam 1
9Oct 14 Fall break (no class)
10Oct 16 - 18 Gravity
11,12Oct 21 - Nov 1 Fluid Mechanics
13-15Nov 4 - 15 Rock Rheology and Faulting
15,16Nov 18 - 22 Project Presentations
16Nov 25 Exam 2
14Nov 28 Thanksgiving (no class)


4312: Your course grade will be based on three criteria: homework (30%), exams (60%), and a project (10%). 6312: Your course grade will be based on three criteria: homework (20%), exams (60%), and a project (20%).

Homework: Homework will be assigned approximately every 3rd week and will be due one week from assignment. I will not accept late homework without authorizing such beforehand. See the academic honesty section (below), for information on working together.

Exams: There will be two equally weighted exams that will be administered during normal class hours. Each exam will focus on material covered since the previous exam, however knowledge of previously covered material will be expected to fully complete any exam. Missed exams will receive a score of zero unless approved and rescheduled beforehand.

Project: For your class project, you will review and present on a topic of your choosing in Geodynamics using relevant research and review articles from peer-reviewed scientific literature (not National Geographic or Scientific American, but journals like Science, Nature, Journal of Geophysical Research, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, etc...). In order to receive full credit for the project you must read and synthesize no less than three papers on the subject. You will, however have the opportunity to receive 10% extra credit on the project if you 1) outline a new approach to addressing an unresolved problem; 2) uniquely solve a problem; 3) perform unique numerical calculations to determine parameter sensitivities and/or feasibility of measurement; or 4) perform a physical analog or unique computational experiment to test hypothesis.
For students in 6312, your project will be written up in journal form suitable for Geophysical Research Letters (GRL), and will be presented in a 15 minute AGU-style talk (12 minute presentation with 3 minutes of questions). For guidelines on document preparations for GRL submissions go to http://www.agu.org/pubs/au_contrib_rev.html. For 6312 your project grading will be based on the quality of your paper (40%), presentation (40%), and participation during others' presentations (20%). For 4312 your grading will be on presentation (80%), and participation during others' presentations (20%).


General: It is expected that all students are aware of their individual responsibilities under the Georgia Tech Academic Honor Code, which will be strictly adhered to in this class.

Problem Sets: Students are encouraged to work together on developing solutions to problem sets; however, the solutions/answers that are turned in must be the work of each individual. Include the name of individuals consulted for each problem that you sought aid in answering (including me).

Project: Each student is expected to develop her/his unique project, thus there should be no copying from others in class. Plagiarism is strictly forbidden. Plagiarism is the submission of material that is wholly or substantially identical to that created or published by another person or persons, without adequate credit notations indicating authorship (as defined by the Georgia Tech Academic Honor Code).

Exams: All information required for exams will be supplied. Reference to texts or other documents during exams is strictly forbidden. The use of electronic devices (e.g. cellular phones, computers etc.) other than non-programmable calculators during exams and quizzes is not allowed.

The complete text of the Academic Honor Code may be found at www.deanofstudents.gatech.edu/Honor/.

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