Geochronology and Thermochronology

Spring Semester 2018, MW 10:00-11:15

Description of Course

Much of Earth and planetary science relies on chronometric use of radioactive decay and growth of naturally occurring nuclides to understand the timing of events and rates of processes, as well as the use of radiogenic isotopes as tracers for understanding a wide range of phenomena. This course will introduce students to the fundamentals of geochronology and thermochronology, diffusion in minerals and heat in the Earth, trace element behavior, and differentiation and recycling processes in the Earth and other solar system objects.

 

Course Prerequisites or Co-requisites

Physical Geology (GEOS 251), Mineralogy (GEOS 306), Chemistry (CHEM 151, 152), Geochemistry (GEOS 400). Recommended: Calculus (MATH 124/125, 129).

 

Instructor and Contact Information

 

Course Format and Teaching Methods

This class comprises lectures and discussions on material that students will have read before coming to class. There will be approximately 8 problem sets. Graduate students will lead a brief discussion. All students will complete a final project or take-home exam.

 

Course Objectives and Expected Learning Outcomes

Students will be expected to understand radioisotopic systems commonly used in Earth and planetary science, their mathematical and geochemical bases, and how to deploy them in routine and innovative applications.

Students will be expected to attend and participate in class, complete problem sets largely correctly, lead and participate in discussions, and complete a final project that reflects an independent, original, and valuable scientific contribution using geochronology.

Absence and Class Participation Policy

The UA's policy concerning Class Attendance, Participation, and Administrative Drops is available at: http://catalog.arizona.edu/policy/class-attendance-participation-and-administrative-drop

The UA policy regarding absences for any sincerely held religious belief, observance or practice will be accommodated where reasonable, http://policy.arizona.edu/human-resources/religious-accommodation-policy.

Absences pre-approved by the UA Dean of Students (or Dean Designee) will be honored. See: https://deanofstudents.arizona.edu/absences

Participating in the course and attending lectures and other course events are vital to the learning process. As such, attendance is required at all lectures and discussion section meetings. Students who miss class due to illness or emergency are required to bring documentation from their health-care provider or other relevant, professional third parties. Failure to submit third-party documentation will result in unexcused absences.

 

Course Communications

Communication will be conducted in class and during scheduled office hours (or, if necessary, specially scheduled office hours). Email to the instructor is not guaranteed to elicit a response, timely or otherwise. But the instructor is not unreasonable, especially if students exhibit genuine effort and respect for the material and learning process.

 

Required Texts or Readings

Students should read chapters and/or papers on particular topics as assigned in class before the lectures/discussions on those topics. There is no required textbook, but it is recommended that you obtain one of the following three books [and any serious Earth, planetary, or environmental scientist should own a copy of some geochronology textbook/reference, even if it is an old edition (e.g., even Faure's older editions are fabulous and can probably be acquired for cheap)].

 

Other useful books:

 

Required or Special Materials

Decent proficiency in some spreadsheet program (e.g., Excel) is required. Don't expect to do problem sets by hand/calculator/pencil/paper/abacus. Matlab or other coding skills are not necessary, though if you are better with these than with spreadsheets, that's great.

 

Assignments and Examinations: Schedule/Due Dates

There will be approximately 8-10 problem sets. These will be assigned in class and due in class on a date given when assigned, typically 7-10 days later. Do not wait too long to start these, especially if you want help from the instructor.

Each graduate student will present and lead one 20-30-minute discussion on an assigned paper. The topic and specific paper will be made in consultation with the instructor. All grad students should have a plan for their topic, if not specific paper, by the end of the first week of February.

All students will complete a final project consisting of either option 1 or 2 below:

 

Final Examination or Project

The take-home exam or final project will be due at the date and time of the officially scheduled final exam at http://www.registrar.arizona.edu/schedules/finals.htm

 

Grading Scale and Policies

Grades will be assigned according to the following percentage scheme: A ≥ 90%, B ≥ 80%, C ≥ 70%, D ≥ 60%, E ≥ 50%. Grading will follow these formulae:

Graduate Students: Problem sets: 50%; Take-Home Exam or Final Paper/Presentation: 30%; In-class participation and discussion: 20%.

Undergraduate Students: Problem sets: 50%; Take-Home Exam or Final Paper: 30%; In-class participation: 20%.

Requests for incomplete (I) or withdrawal (W) must be made in accordance with University policies, which are available at http://catalog.arizona.edu/policy/grades-and-grading-system#incomplete and http://catalog.arizona.edu/policy/grades-and-grading-system#Withdrawal respectively.

Honors Credit

Students wishing to contract this course for Honors Credit should email me to set up an appointment to discuss the terms of the contract. Information on Honors Contracts can be found at https://www.honors.arizona.edu/honors-contracts.

 

Scheduled Topics (Tentative)

Date

Topic

Reading

Wed 10 Jan:

Foundations of Radioisotopic Dating

Ch. 2

Mon 15 Jan: MLK Day

--

 

Wed 17 Jan:

Foundations of Radioisotopic Dating

Ch. 2

Mon 22 Jan:

Analytical Methods

Ch. 3

Wed 24 Jan:

Analytical Methods

Ch. 3

Mon 29 Jan:

Interpretational Approaches

Ch. 4

Wed 31 Jan:

Interpretational Approaches

Ch. 4

Mon 5 Feb:

Diffusion and Thermochronologic Interpretations

Ch. 5

Wed 7 Feb:

Diffusion and Thermochronologic Interpretations

Ch. 5

Mon 12 Feb:

Rb/Sr, Sm/Nd, Lu/Hf

Ch. 6

Wed 14 Feb:

Rb/Sr, Sm/Nd, Lu/Hf

Ch. 6

Mon 19 Feb:

Re/Os and Pt/Os

Ch. 7

Wed 21 Feb:

Re/Os and Pt/Os

Ch. 7

Mon 26 Feb:

U-Th/Pb

Ch. 8

Wed 28 Feb:

U-Th/Pb

Ch. 8

Mon 5 Mar: Spring Break

--

 

Wed 7 Mar: Spring Break

--

 

Mon 12 Mar:

K/Ar and 40Ar/39Ar

Ch. 9

Wed 14 Mar:

K/Ar and 40Ar/39Ar

Ch. 9

Mon 19 Mar:

Radiation Damage Methods

Ch. 10

Wed 21 Mar:

Radiation Damage Methods

Ch. 10

Mon 26 Mar:

(U-Th)/He

Ch. 11

Wed 28 Mar:

(U-Th)/He

Ch. 11

Mon 2 Apr:

U-series

Ch.12

Wed 4 Apr:

U-series

Ch.12

Mon 9 Apr:

Cosmogenic Nuclides

Ch. 13

Wed 11 Apr: AB Meeting

--

 

Mon 16 Apr:

Cosmogenic Nuclides

Ch. 13

Wed 18 Apr:

Extinct Radionuclides

Ch. 14

Mon 23 Apr:

Applications

 

Wed 25 Apr:

Applications

 

Mon 30 Apr:

Final Presentations

 

Wed 2 May:

Final Presentations

 

 

Threatening Behavior Policy

The UA Threatening Behavior by Students Policy prohibits threats of physical harm to any member of the University community, including to oneself. See http://policy.arizona.edu/education-and-student-affairs/threatening-behavior-students.

 

Accessibility and Accommodations

Our goal in this classroom is that learning experiences be as accessible as possible. If you anticipate or experience physical or academic barriers based on disability, please let me know immediately so that we can discuss options. You are also welcome to contact the Disability Resource Center (520-621-3268) to establish reasonable accommodations. For additional information on the Disability Resource Center and reasonable accommodations, please visit http://drc.arizona.edu.

If you have reasonable accommodations, please plan to meet with me by appointment or during office hours to discuss accommodations and how my course requirements and activities may impact your ability to fully participate.

Please be aware that the accessible table and chairs in this room should remain available for students who find that standard classroom seating is not usable.

 

Code of Academic Integrity

Students are encouraged to share intellectual views and discuss freely the principles and applications of course materials. However, graded work/exercises must be the product of independent effort unless otherwise instructed. Students are expected to adhere to the UA Code of Academic Integrity as described in the UA General Catalog. See: http://deanofstudents.arizona.edu/academic-integrity/students/academic-integrity.

The University Libraries have some excellent tips for avoiding plagiarism, available at http://new.library.arizona.edu/research/citing/plagiarism.

Selling class notes and/or other course materials to other students or to a third party for resale is not permitted without the instructor's express written consent. Violations to this and other course rules are subject to the Code of Academic Integrity and may result in course sanctions. Additionally, students who use D2L or UA e-mail to sell or buy these copyrighted materials are subject to Code of Conduct Violations for misuse of student e-mail addresses. This conduct may also constitute copyright infringement.

 

UA Nondiscrimination and Anti-harassment Policy

The University is committed to creating and maintaining an environment free of discrimination; see http://policy.arizona.edu/human-resources/nondiscrimination-and-anti-harassment-policy

 

Additional Resources for Students

UA Academic policies and procedures are available at http://catalog.arizona.edu/policies

Student Assistance and Advocacy information is available at http://deanofstudents.arizona.edu/student-assistance/students/student-assistance

 

Subject to Change Statement

Information contained in the course syllabus, other than the grade and absence policy, may be subject to change with advance notice, as deemed appropriate by the instructor.