EAS 4312/6312: Geodynamics

Spring, 2018

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

Select information from lectures


When: January 9 - April 19 2018; Tues, Thurs 3:00 - 4:15 pm
Where: Cherry Emerson 322
Office Hours: Hours will be held in my office, ES&T room 2254, Wednesdays from 1:30-3:30 pm, or by appointment. I will make every effort to be accessible by appointment, as I a understand schedules are tight/variable.
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, fluid mechanics, rock rheology, and crustal faulting as mechanisms and consequences of plate tectonics.
Required Text:
  • Turcotte, D.L., & G. Schubert, Geodynamics: 3nd Edition, Cambridge University Press, 623 pp., 2014.
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.

Students with Disabilities: If you are a student with learning needs that require special accommodation, contact the Office of Disability Services at (404)894-2563 or http://disabilityservices.gatech.edu, as soon as possible, to make an appointment to discuss your special needs and to obtain an accommodations letter. Please also e-mail me as soon as possible in order to set up a time to discuss your learning needs.
Student-Faculty Expectations: At Georgia Tech we believe that it is important to strive for an atmosphere of mutual respect, acknowledgement, and responsibility between faculty and students. Ultimately, we should respect each others time, hard work, and quest for knowledge. We all should strive to build an environment for cordial and effective interaction. Please see http://catalog.gatech.edu/rules/22/ for some basic expectations that we should have of each other.
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 Chapter HW/Exams
1,2Jan 9-18 Introduction to Plate Tectonics, Geodynamics and mathematical approximation1
3,4Jan 23-30, Feb 1 Stress and Strain in Solids2
5,6Feb 6-15 Elastic Deformation3
7-9Feb 20-27, Mar 1-8 Heat Transfer
8Mar 1 Exam 1
10,12Mar 13-29 Fluid Mechanics6
11Mar 19-23 Spring break (no class)
13-14Apr 3-10 Rock Rheology and Faulting7, 8
14-15Apr 12-17 Project Presentations
15Apr 19 Exam 2


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%).
  • LetterGrade: A ≥ 90% > B ≥ 80% > C ≥ 70% > D ≥ 60% > F
  • Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory: S ≥ 70% > U

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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