Department of Geology and Geophysics

GEOL 42/5200-06
Rates and Timescales of Surface Processes

2 Credits — Spring 2011

CRN: 31584

Lecture: T 1:10-3:00 — 3001 ESB

Instructor: Dr. Cliff Riebe
E-mail: criebe@uwyo.edu
Phone: 766-3965
Office: RM 2008 ESB
Office hrs: Tu, W, F 11-12

Prerequisites: Graduate standing or instructor’s consent.  Generally, the prerequisite is GEOL 4880 or GEOG 3010 or GEOL 2150, plus MATH 2210, PHYS 1210, & CHEM 1020.

Course Overview: Explores methods for quantifying rates and timescales of surface processes.  Focuses on systematics of cosmogenic isotope accumulation and decay during exposure, erosion and burial or rock, soil and sediment at (or near) Earth’s surface.  Course also considers applications of (i) detrital thermochronology for tracing rates of surface processes, (ii) U-series disequilibrium dating of weathering timescales, and (iii) optically stimulated luminescence in surface exposure studies.

Objectives/Outcomes/Standards: Students will hone quantitative problem solving skills and develop a body of knowledge that is both broad and deep in quantifying rates of surface processes over a range of timescales.  This course features a mix of traditional, instructor-driven lectures (on fundamentals) and student-driven discussion (of literature from classic and cutting-edge research).

Readings:

  1. Cosmogenic Nuclides: Principles, Concepts and Applications in the Earth Surface Sciences, Dunai, T. J., 2010, Cambridge University Press, 198 pp.  ($60.00 hardcopy | $48.00 eBook).
  2. Research articles and review papers from selected journals and books


Course Information:This course is appropriate for graduate and upper-division undergraduate students seeking a quantitative understanding of how landscapes are shaped over time by surface processes.

Tentative Shedule

Week

Day

Date

Topic

Readings

Assignments Due

1

T

Jan 11

Organization and background

 

2

T

Jan 18

Cosmic radiation and cosmogenic nuclide production pathways

Dunai Ch. 1

 

3

T

Jan 25

Cosmogenic nuclides: What are they and how fast are they produced?

Dunai Ch. 2-3

Think Piece 1

4

T

Feb 1

Nuclide production rates from the classics to the cutting edge

Lal 1991
Nishiizumi et al. 1989, Clark et al. 1995

HW 1

5

T

Feb 8

Exposure dating

Dunai Ch. 4.1
TBD

Think Piece 2

6

T

Feb 15

Burial dating

Dunai Ch. 4.2
Granger 2006

HW 2

7

T

Feb 22

Rates of erosion and uplift

Dunai Ch. 4.3-4.4
Granger et al 1996
TBD

HW 3

8

T

Mar 1

Midterm

none

9

T

Mar 8

Soil production and weathering

Dunai Ch 4.5
Heimsath et al. 1997
Granger & Riebe 2007

HW 4

10

T

Mar 15

University Holiday

 

11

T

Mar 22

U-series disequilibrium dating (Theory)

TBD

HW 5

12

T

Mar 29

U-series disequilibrium dating (Application)

TBD

Think Piece 3

13

T

Apr 5

Low-temperature thermochronology (Theory)

TBD

HW 6

14

T

Apr 12

Applications of L-T thermochronology to quantifying rates of surface processes

Stock et al. 2006, McPhillips and Brandon 2010

Think Piece 4

15

T

Apr 19

Optically-stimulated luminescence dating (Theory)

TBD

HW 7

16

T

Apr 26

Optically-stimulated luminescence dating (Application)

TBD

Think Piece 5

17

TBD

TBD

Final Exam (timing and location TBD)