GEOS330 Quaternary Geochronology
- Apply the principles and methods of the most widely used numerical dating methodologies for the Quaternary period, and how they constrain the timing, duration and rates of geologic and archaeological events and processes.
- Apply critical thinking skills through the scientific method to address a range of problems in geochronology.
- Develop the ability to critically read and comprehend research articles in geology and archaeology within the primary scientific literature (technical journals).
- Demonstrate the ability to articulate the results of scientific research.
This course is designed to examine the principles and methods of the most widely used numerical dating methodologies for the Quaternary period (roughly the last two million years of Earth history), and how they constrain the timing, duration and rates of geologic and archaeological events and processes. Our discussions will focus on the resolving power, strengths and weaknesses of various geochronological techniques, and strategies for their successful application to a range of geological and geoarchaeological problems.
Each geochronological method will be presented and studied in a three week module comprising lectures, reading of scientific literature, manipulation and analysis of scientific data, and group presentations of research results.
- individual summaries of scientific papers read in each course module
- group poster presentations of the analysis of a data set for each geochronological method
- final research proposal detailing the application of one or more geochronological methods to a scientific problem
Required Text: (available in the Bookstore)
Walker, Mike, 2005, Quaternary Dating Methods, John Wiley and Sons, 286 p.
Supplementary Texts: (available at Albertson Library)
Noller, J.S., Sowers, J.M., and Lettis, W.R., (eds.) Quaternary Geochronology Methods and Applications, American Geophysical Union Reference Shelf Series 4, Washington DC, 2000
Rutter, N.W., and Catto, N.R. (eds.) Dating Methods for Quaternary Deposits, Geological Association of Canada GeoText 2, 1995
Rapp and Hill, Geoarchaeology: the Earth-Science Approach to Archaeological Interpretation, Yale University Press, 1998.
Dickin, A.P. Radiogenic Isotope Geology, Cambridge University Press, 1994 (on reserve for GEOL 572)
Faure, G., Principles of Isotope Geology, 2nd ed., Wiley, 1986
Course Schedule: Spring 2009
Module 1: Dendrochronology
1/21 – 1/28: lectures and reading
1/30 – 2/4: data analysis
2/6: in class presentations
2/9: method recap
Module 2: Radiocarbon (14C)
2/11 – 2/18: lectures and reading
(2/16: President’s Day, no class)
2/20 – 2/25: data analysis
2/27: in class presentations
3/2: method recap
Module 3: U-Series Disequilibria (234U and 230Th)
3/4 – 3/9: lectures and reading
3/11 – 3/16: data analysis
3/18: in class presentations
3/20: method recap
(3/23 – 3/27: Spring Break, no class)
Module 4: Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL)
3/30 – 4/3: lectures and reading
4/6 – 4/10: data analysis
4/13: in class presentations
4/15: method recap
Module 5: 210Pb and 137Cs
4/17 – 4/22: lectures and reading
4/24 – 4/29: data analysis
5/1: in class presentations
5/4: method recap
5/6: final project assignment (due final exam period)