Planet Earth

Number of ECTS:  6    Price:  720 € 
Teaching Language:  English  Place: Building J
Bellaterra Campus, 08193 Bellaterra

Teaching Period: 17 July to 4 August


Teacher: Joan Reche, Joan Poch

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Contents overview

Planet Earth is an introductory course whose principal objectives are understanding Earth as a global System and the interactions that exist among its solid parts, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere-anthroposphere. Also, it is designed to help students understand the spatial and temporal scales in planetary processes. With these objectives in mind we first study Earth in its cosmic and Solar system contexts, the processes of planetary formation, the characteristics of primitive Earth, the origin of solid Earth internal structure and how it was discovered, how geologists have depicted and use the time-scale framework of Earth evolution, the theory of Plate Tectonics as the present paradigm explaining how the solid part of Earth works and the key issues in Atmosphere – Hydrosphere – solid Earth interactions. Finally, the relationships among Earth System processes and the Biosphere – Anthroposphere are illuminated through the study of the main causes of climate change, the sustainability of energy use by humans and how carbon “C”, one of the basic life constitutive chemical elements, circulates through Earth systems.

1. System Earth: Formation and primitive evolution.
2. Composition and internal structure of solid Earth
3. Plate Tectonics: the geologic paradigm
4. Atmosphere – Hydrosphere and its interactions with solid Earth. Climate evolution.
5. Time. Absolute and relative age dating. The geologic time scale. Principal events in Earth History.
6. Biosphere – Anthroposphere: Energy and sustainable development. The Earth C cycle.

Teaching / learning activities
Masterclass sessions plus a seminar on Seismology, Geologic Time and C cycle and the Anthropocene

A process of continuous formative evaluation is set up through exercises related to each of the seminars (40% of grade qualification). Seminar 1: Seismology (determination of the epicentre and magnitude of an earthquake) and Seminar 2: Seismology (earthquakes and Plate Tectonics). Deadline: first half of 2nd week. 3: Seminar on geologic Time. Deadline: second half of 2nd week. 4: Seminar on C cycle. Deadline: first half of 3rd week. The continuous evaluation will end by a multiple option test exam (60% of grade). First half of 3rd week.

Links and references
An Introduction to Our Dynamic Planet. N. Rogers. Cambridge University Press ISBN: 9780521494243, 2007-2008.

Earth and Life. The Dynamic Earth. S269 DE Science: a second level course. S269 Course Team. The Open University. 1997.

Earth: Portrait of a Planet. Marshak, S. (2012). Earth: Portrait of a Planet. 4th Edition. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. New York. (pp.399-429).

Meteorology Today: an introduction to weather, climate, and the environment. Ahrens, C. Donald, Pacific Grove, CA : Thomson/Brooks/Cole, cop. 2007.

Planet Earth: Cosmology, Geology, and the Evolution of Life and Environment. Cesare Emiliani, Cambridge University Press ISBN: 9780521409490, 1992-1997.

The Blue Planet. An Introduction to Earth System Science. Brian J. Skinner, Stephen C. Porter and Daniel B. Botkin., 1999. 2nd. Ed. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

The Changing Earth: Exploring Geology and Evolution. Monroe, J. S. & Wicander, R. (2012). 6th Edition. International Edition. Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning. USA. (p.415-447).

Understanding the Earth. Grotzinger, J. and Jordan, T., 2010. 6th. Ed. W. H. Freeman & Co., NY. (pp. 191-213).