The book we are proposing will be based on a beginning geophysics course introduced at Northwestern University about 20 years ago that has been evolving since. This course is required of geology majors, and is taken as a distribution course by engineering majors. It provides a relatively rigorous and homework-intensive overview of the structure and evolution of the Earth and terrestrial planets. The course aims to provide students with an intuitive understanding of the physical processes that have shaped our planet, and does this through many interesting examples, analogies and demonstrations. The book we are proposing will do the same: provide students with a clear, exciting and intuition-based presentation of the complex and interconnected structure and evolution of Earth. The course at Northwestern is a bridge between 100-level (descriptive introduction for non-majors, aka "rocks for jocks", "moons for goons") and 300-level (seismology, plate tectonics, mineral physics, tectonophysics, etc) classes taken by seniors & 1st year grad students. Hence the class is more of an overview (broader but not as deep) than geophysics courses for seniors or first year graduate students like those for which most texts (Fowler, Stacey, etc.) are designed. The course gets good reviews because its approach seems to serve the three types of students in the class: 1) Geology majors who plan to take higher-level geophysics courses are introduced to a range of concepts that allow them to "see the forest" when they move up to specialized higher-level courses. They learn many basic concepts and vocabulary terms, and, most crucially, understand how the different topics are interrelated. 2) Geology majors who do not plan to take higher-level geophysics courses learn enough about basic concepts to appreciate them. The presentation is such that they can learn concepts at a level beyond the purely descriptive. 3) Engineering majors and students majoring in other sciences, who typically have not had previous earth science classes, get a good introduction to many topics in the earth sciences at a higher level than in a 100-level course. They seem to enjoy the class and do as well as the geology majors. Because no book was fully suitable, class notes have been developed that will form the basis of the book. In the past few years, the class notes, overheads, homework, and demonstrations/labs have been put on the web (http://www.earth.northwestern.edu/people/seth/202). An article (EOS, 78, 521-532, 1997) describing the demonstrations, such as having students test partitioning during fractional crystallization with half-frozen apple juice, drew a great deal of interest. A lot of instructors say they like the web site and find it helpful in developing their courses. As such, it seems that there will be a market for a book based on the course. In the proposed book, concepts like Snell''s law and the heat equation will be derived for simple cases. Topics will be tied to the students'' beginning physics, chemistry, and calculus courses because experience has shown that these subjects benefit from reinforcement. We thus discuss Snell''s law in seismology but explore its applications to fiber optics, the rainbow, and tsunami propagation. Similarly, discussion of phase diagrams incorporates freeze-dried food and liquefied natural gas. Students seem to find these connections interesting and helpful. A basic theme of the book will be "how do we know this?" Hence a variety of data acquisition systems including seismometers, magnetometers, mass spectrometers, X-ray diffraction, diamond anvils, satellite altimeters, GPS, space missions (NEAR, WMAP...), etc., will be discussed briefly with explanatory diagrams. Another important theme of the course is that our geophysical hypotheses of our planet''s composition and dynamics are continuously evolving and there remains much to be learned. The idea here is to remind students that there are many first-order problems remaining, and that they could still be the ones to make major discoveries about the earth Chapters will contain both problem sets and boxed demonstrations or examples. The demonstrations are very important for providing the students with a physical, geometrical or visual understanding of many of the complex topics discussed. Some can be done with pencil and paper, such as the plate kinematics labs. For example, one of these involves cutting out a map of western North America along the Pacific-North America boundary and rotating the plate about the Euler pole. Other demonstrations can be done with simple tools, such as the apple juice experiment, simulating radioactive decay with coin flips, or a ball-and-string experiment illustrating conservation of angular momentum. Similar to the case of Stein & Wysession''s Seismology, there will be a book web site with downloadable figures and (by password for instructors) homework solutions.
Author: Judith A. Stein
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