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EARTHSYS 12SC: Environmental and Geological Field Studies in the Rocky Mountains (EESS 12SC, GES 12SC)

The ecologically and geologically diverse Rocky Mountain area is being strongly impacted by changing land use patterns, global and regional environmental change, and societal demands for energy and natural resources. This field program emphasizes coupled environmental and geological problems in the Rocky Mountains, covering a broad range of topics including the geologic origin of the American West from three billion years ago to the present; paleoclimatology and the glacial history of this mountainous region; the long- and short-term carbon cycle and global climate change; and environmental issues in the American West related to changing land-use patterns and increased demand for its abundant natural resources. These broad topics are integrated into a coherent field-study as we examine earth/ environmental science-related questions in three different settings: 1) the three-billion-year-old rocks and the modern glaciers of the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming; 2) the sediments in the adjacent Wind River basin that host abundant gas and oil reserves and also contain the long-term climate history of this region; and 3) the volcanic center of Yellowstone National Park and the mountainous region of Teton National Park, and the economic and environmental problems associated with gold mining and extraction of oil and gas in areas adjoining these national parks. Students will complete six assignments based upon field exercises, working in small groups to analyze data and prepare reports and maps. Lectures will be held in the field prior to and after fieldwork. Note: This course involves one week of backpacking in the Wind Rivers and hiking while staying in cabins near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Students must arrive in Salt Lake City on Monday, September 3. (Hotel lodging will be provided for the night of September 3, and thereafter students will travel as a Sophomore College group.) We will return to campus on Friday, September 21.
Terms: Sum | Units: 2 | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)
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