Humans have an enormous impact on the global movement of chemical materials. Biogeochemistry has grown to be the principal scientific discipline to examine the flow of elements through the global earth systems and to examine human impacts on the global environment. This course will introduce and investigate processes and factors controlling the biogeochemical cycles of elements with and between the hydrosphere, lithosphere, atmosphere and biosphere. Students will apply principles learned in lectures by building simple computer-based biogeochemical models.
This course presents the basic principles and the underlying assumptions, and explanations of the theories behind geotechnical analyses, together with discussions of the sources and magnitudes of uncertainties in geotechnical analyses. Application of principles to practical problems, emphasizing the role of Geotechnology in real design projects using example problems to illustrate the various analyses presented.
An introduction to geoenvironmental engineering as well as consideration of earth slopes, landslides, and related issues will be presented, together with discussions of recent developments in geotechnical engineering, including geosynthetics, soil improvement, and geotechnical earthquake engineering. Frequent use of both English and SI units will be made, because engineers in North America and many other parts of the world need to be conversant in both systems.
The course integrates computer software into the learning process. Throughout, students will first learn how to do each analysis by hand. Once the students understand the concepts, they will be introduced to the applicable software routines to allow them to explore more complex problems without being burdened by tedious computations. To avoid a false sense of accuracy, frequent references to sources of uncertainties in geotechnical analyses will be made to help students understand that geotechnical engineering is not a precise science.
Geometric human population growth drives similarly increasing demands for water, living space, transportation, and resources. Mega-scale civil engineering projects have moved from the pages of science fiction, to the pages of peer-reviewed scientific journals, and in some cases onto blueprints and then reality. Examples of actual works include Boston’s “Big Dig,” the Palm Islands of Dubai, the re-routing of the Yangtze River from the South to the North of China through aqueducts beneath the Tibetan Plateau. Projects under consideration include seeding Earth’s upper atmosphere with particulates, launching arrays of mirrors, or enriching Arctic seas with iron to alter Earth’s climate. Not much more far-fetched are ideas about “terraforming” or changing the fundamental cycles on celestial bodies to make them habitable, or mining the Moon for Helium 3. These ideas may seem impossible but (as exemplified by a recent article in Geophysical Research Letters that convincingly demonstrated that the worldwide construction of dams at mid-latitudes has actually changed Earth’s rotation rate) geoscientists are realizing that human activities have had mega-scale consequences, and that this human power to alter the planet could be harnessed to better the human condition. In fact, human civil works beyond what was thought possible are relatively common in history: the quarrying and transportation of the slabs that comprise Stonehenge, the Tunnel of Samos, the Nazca Lines, the Panama Canal, etc. This seminar course will involve reading about and discussing the geotechnical issues that were, are, and will be faced in the implementation of such massive works. The course will be evenly divided between examining historical examples and their consequences (both intended and unintended), and evaluating the feasibility, and anticipating unintended consequences of, some current not-yet-realized Geo-Engineering ideas.
This is an online course. Review and applications of selected methods from differential equations, advanced engineering mathematics and geostatistics to problems encountered in geology, engineering geology, geophysics and hydrology.
Project proposal and Form 100 required for course registration. See Earth & Environmental Science Online Community for "Guide to the Project Design" for more information.