SPRING 2011


John Pitlick

OFFICE: Guggenheim 315



Naomi Arcand

Anya Byers

Preston Cumming
Rees River, NZ

Course Links:
Lecture Schedule
Examples of Test Questions
Review Sheets
Water Resources
Tectonics and Climate
Internet-Based Laboratory Exercises:

Course Overview

This course will introduce you to the sciences of hydrology and geomorphology, which are two branches of physical Geography dealing with earth surface processes.  In the first few weeks we will discuss deep-seated geologic processes which build mountain ranges and volcanoes, and generate earthquakes along plate boundaries.  For the remainder of the semester we will focus on near-surface processes, such as weathering, soil erosion, landslides, floods, and glaciation.  These processes continually reshape the Earth’s surface and create an array of landforms.  It is also important to understand how hydrologic and geomorphic processes affect natural resources (soil and water conservation), and to think more critically about how we might change our land- and water-management activities to sustain an ever-expanding population.

Text (required): R.W Christopherson, Geosystems, 7th ed., Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ (2 copies will be placed on reserve in the Earth Sciences library; assigned readings will be placed on reserve in Norlin).

Lab manual (required): J. Pitlick and J. Clayton, 2002, Lab Manual to Accompany Environmental Systems, Pearson Custom Publishing, Boston, MA (obtain from either bookstore).

Lab: Each person attends a 2-hour lab session each week.  The lab is mandatory and once you sign up for a section, please stick with it.  If you cannot make it to your regularly scheduled lab (say, because of a dentist appointment) please discuss this with your TA beforehand, not afterwards.  No labs will be held the first week (Jan. 10-14), or during the Spring break (Mar. 21-25).  Most labs consist of hands-on exercises that you will complete before the next week’s lab.  We have scheduled three mandatory field trips, and two labs that utilize information from the internet.

Grading:  Your course grade will be based on

a) 2 highest out of 3 midterm tests (40%); tests are scheduled for Feb. 2, Mar. 2, and Apr. 6;

b) comprehensive final exam (30%); scheduled for Sat., Apr. 30, 1:30-4:00 PM;

c) 11 highest out of 12 lab exercises, and lab quizzes (30%).

Midterm and final exams cover material from lecture, text, and readings.  Test questions are multiple choice; some questions test your ability to connect concepts, other questions test your knowledge of basic facts.  These tests aren't necessarily easy, but I curve the scores accordingly.  NOTE:  You are allowed to drop one of the midterm exams.  However, I do not give make-up exams.  If you miss a midterm exam for any reason (sickness, family emergency, etc.), you will receive a score of zero for that exam, and that will count as your lowest score.  I suggest you hold this option in reserve- treat all of the exams as if each counted- then, if a real emergency arises, or you just don’t do very well on a test, you still have the option to drop one score.  The final exam is mandatory and it will cover everything.  Note the date and time of the final exam!  I cannot accommodate people who would like to take the final exam early.

The key to success in this course is class attendance.  I often present information that isn’t discussed in the textbook, and missing more than a couple lectures can cost you more than 20 pts. on an exam.  However, I recognize that situations may arise that make it difficult to focus on coursework.  If this happens, or if you are having problems with assignments, lectures or exams, please schedule an appointment with me or one of the TAs to talk about it.  We can accommodate problems to a certain extent, but you must let us know about them as soon as you can so that we can make adjustments.


Exam 2

Exam 3

Final Exam