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GEOS645 Physics & Chemistry of Mountain-Building

Course Outcomes:

  1. Be able to describe the fundamental concepts of heat flow, diffusion and mass tranport in the Earth.
  2. Be able to apply thermodynamic and kinetic principles to model heat flow and diffusive processes.
  3. Utilize both spreadsheets and Matlab to compute analytical and numerical solutions to the heat flow and diffusion equations.
  4. Be familiar with sources of scientific information and be able to utilize scientific literature dealing with orogenesis.

This course is designed to be an introduction to modern methods for analyzing the pressure-temperature-time paths and histories of metamorphic terrains comprising modern and ancient mountain belts; subjects to include quantitative geothermobarometry, chemical diffusion and closure temperature theory, geochronology and thermochronology, the thermal structure and evolution of mountain belts.

Course Assessment:

  • Projects (3; poster, presentation, paper)  75%
  • Class discussion & participation (including paper summaries)  25%

Required Text: (available from MSA)

Spear, F.S., Metamorphic Phase Equilibria and Pressure-Temperature-Time Paths. Mineral. Soc. Amer. Monograph, 1993.

Supplementary Texts: (available at Albertson Library)

Bucher, K., and Frey, M., Petrogenesis of Metamorphic Rocks, 6th ed. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1994.

Dickin, A.P., Radiogenic Isotope Geology, Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Heaman, L.M., and Ludden, J.L. (eds.) Applications of radiogenic isotope systems to problems in geology; Short course handbook v. 19, Mineralogical Association of Canada, 1991.

McDougall, I., Harrison, T.M., Geochronology and thermochronology by the 40Ar/39Ar method, Oxford University Press, 1999.

Nisbet, E.G. and Fowler, C.M.R. (eds.) Heat, Metamorphism and Tectonics; Short course handbook v. 14, Mineralogical Association of Canada, 1988.

Turcotte, D.L., and Schubert, G., Geodynamics: Applications of Continuum Physics to Geological Problems, New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1982.

Course Schedule: Fall 2009

Week 1: Introduction to Metamorphism (Chapter 1)

Week 2: Metamorphic Facies (Chapter 2)

Week 3: Heat Conduction and Heat Flow (Chapter 3)

Week 4: Steady State Geotherms (Chapter 3)

Week 5: Time-Dependent Solutions (Chapter 3)

Week 6: Numerical Solutions – 1D

Week 7: Numerical Solutions – 2D

Week 8: P-T Paths and Metamorphic Field Gradients (Chapter 3)

Week 9: Thermobarometry (Chapter 15)

Week 10: Diffusion (Chapter 20)

Week 11: Analytical and Numerical Solutions (Chapter 20)

Week 12: Closure Temperature (Dodson)

Week 13: Closure in Petrologic Systems (Chapter 20)

Week 14:    Thanksgiving Holiday – No Classes

Week 15: Thermochronology – 40Ar/39Ar

Week 16: Thermochronology – U-Pb