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Web Schedule Fall 2018

Revision Date: 04-Jul-18

Fundamentals of Earth Science

Semester Dates: Last day to drop without a grade: 09-24-2018 - Refund Policy
Last day to withdraw (W grade): 11-05-2018 - Refund Policy
Faculty: Not Yet Assigned | View Faculty Credentials
This course has started, please contact the offering academic center about registration

Browse the Moodle Site for this class.

Course Description:

This course is an introduction to systems and processes acting upon planet Earth in the solar system. Primary focus is on mechanisms of formation and distribution of minerals, rocks, continents and planets. The course includes basic principles of geology including geologic time and plate tectonics. Meteorology and climatology are emphasized in context of hydrological impacts on geomorphology. Human impact on geological processes will also be explored.

Essential Objectives:

1. Use scientific method to understand the context of planet Earth within the universe, galaxy and solar system.
2. Describe the structure and composition of the interior layers of the planet Earth.
3. Explain geologic time referencing the rock record, extinction events and the theories of continental drift and plate tectonics.
4. Describe the atomic structure of the major rock-forming minerals and define their physical properties.
5. Identify the three types of rocks and explain their origins and relationships.
6. Define and describe Earth’s hydrological cycle including meteorological, atmospheric and climatological considerations.
7. Explain the influences the hydrological cycle has on landscape formation (geomorphology) including groundwater movement, weathering patterns and glacial and riverine sediment distribution.
8. Describe geological phenomena such as volcanism, earthquakes, mass wasting and impact events in context of earth and solar system processes.
9. Examine the impact of human activities, including global warning, fossil fuel extraction and land development, on geological processes and evaluate the sustainability of these practices.
10. Demonstrate proficiency in understanding, interpreting, evaluating and applying quantitative data and information.

Additional Instructor Pre-Assignments/Notes/Comments:

Getting Started in Fundamentals of Earth Science

This course begins on Tuesday September 4, 2018 and ends 7 weeks later on Monday October 22, 2018. There are no breaks during the class. I hope you will browse our Moodle course site and take a look at Topic 1 (available August 2018) to give you an idea of how the course is structured. If you have questions about this course, please ask!

Individual and group learning (with support from instructor and classmates) will occur through completing the assignments, participating in content-based discussions in the weekly discussion forums, and submitting internet-based research in the form of earth science posters.

Textbook Required For This Course:

Foundations of Earth Science 8e by Lutgens and Tarbuck is available through the CCV bookstore. You are responsible to have the textbook or the e-textbook by the thrid day of class. Notice that you will need the textbook to complete the first homework assignment.

If You Have Questions About Course Content. . .

We will have a Questions Forum open the entire class. This is the place to post questions and offer answers about the course content. Students are sometimes reluctant to ask for help, but in my experience classmates are excellent resources and enjoy helping each other. If a question is not promptly answered by a fellow student, I will provide an answer. This way everyone in the class will benefit from both questions and answers.

If You Have Questions About Grades, Schedule, Computer Issues Etc. . .

Please contact me via email at any time. My email is; and I check it several times daily.


You will be evaluated in Fundamentals of Earth Science based on the following:

  • Written assignments: 60% of course grade
  • Discussion forum participation: 15% of course grade
  • Two quizzes: 25% of course grade

Note that study and participation throughout the week are required due to the short nature of this course. If there is more than one day a week where your schedule makes it impossible to study or post to the discussion, please talk to me to see if we can find a workable schedule. Otherwise this short course format may not be the best choice.

Written Assignments
Written assignments are worth 60% of your grade. Assignments will generally consist of:

  • assigned reading, watching videos etc. - due by the end of Thursdays
  • written answers to questions - due by the end of Thursdays
  • creating an Earth Science poster (a one page poster with images and sources that tells an earth science story) posted to the discussion - due by the end of Friidays

You are expected to use complete sentences and correct spelling and grammar in all written work. Include the question and the page numbers from the textbook or articles you used in answering the question. You should submit your answers to the Moodle assignment  (pdf preferred). Work sent to my email address will not be graded or considered to be submitted on time.

The Earth Science poster will be submitted to the discussion for questions and comments by classmates. Sources used in creating the poster should be on a second page so they don’t detract from the layout. Cite sources using the APA style; see the Hartness Library for help with this. Usually there is a choice of suggested topics for the poster to choose from. Choose a poster template from examples available online or make up your own. Do not purchase a template.

Discussion Forums

The discussion forums are used to create a community of online learners and will usually consist of issues and questions based on your Earth Science posters. Posters are due by the end of Fridays which means you have Saturday through Thursday to participate in these discussions in a substantive way a minimum of 3 different times. Your participation in the weekly discussion forums is worth 15% of your course grade. Please use correct grammar, spelling and standard punctuation and capitalization in all posts. I

t is imperative to remember there is a human being behind each question or comment posted in the weekly discussion forums. I expect that we will all treat each other with the kindness and respect that we would in a classroom or face-to-face setting. Disagreement is fine, but there is a zero tolerance policy for teasing, inappropriate language, rudeness and disrespect. Please note: you have an hour to modify your  responses to the discussion forums.


There will be two quizzes in the course (see Syllabus). The quizzes will have a time limit and only one attempt will be allowed. These quizzes will be on the content of the assignments and discussions. The quizzes are worth a total of 25% of your course grade.

Evaluation Criteria:

  • Assignments: 60% of course grade
  • Discussion forums: 15% of course grade
  • Two quizzes: 25% of course grade

To do well in this class you should:

  • have the textbook or e-textbook by the first day of class
  • complete all assignments and take notes to remember the content
  • be able to use Word, Open Office, PowerPoint or Google Docs to write a document 
  • keep up with the weekly work, take both quizzes, and participate as required in the discussions
  • submit work on time
  • understand that your written work is evidence of how much you are learning and be sure your work reflects this learning
  • ask questions right away when you don't understand something
  • have reliable 24/7 internet access

If you:

  • submit fewer than 6 assignments, your course grade will be reduced by one letter grade, in addition to zeros on any unsubmitted assignments
  • participate in the discussion in fewer than 6 weeks, your final grade will be reduced by one letter grade, in addition to zeros you get for weeks where you don't participate

Grading Criteria:

Letter grades will normally be assigned as follows:
90-100 A range
80-89 B range
70-79 C range
60-69 D range
less than 60 is an F
70 or above is a P
69 and below is an NP

Incompletes may be granted only in extraordinary circumstances when a student has done more than 50% of the course work with a grade of C or better but is unable to complete the course due to an emergency situation. In this case instructor and student will consult with the student's adviser and come up with a plan for completing the additional work. In all cases additional work must be completed within 7 weeks of the end of the course.


Fall 2018 textbook data will be available on June 4. On that date a link will be available below that will take you to eCampus, CCV's bookstore. The information provided there will be for this course only. Please see this page for more information regarding the purchase of textbooks.

The last day to use a Financial Aid advance to purchase textbooks is the 3rd Tuesday of the semester. See your financial aid counselor at your academic center if you have any questions.

Attendance Policy:

Students are expected to submit all work and quizzes on time and participate as directed in the discussions. 

There is a Late Work Policy which allows for one set of review questions and one poster to be submitted three days late with no penalty. This policy doesn't apply to discussion forums, quizzes, or to the last week of class when I need all assignments for grading. The student is responsible for telling me when/if he/she wants to use the late work policy.

For the purposes of official CCV Course Attendance, one post at the discussion forum by Sunday noon of each week is required.


Topic 1: Introduction to rocks and minerals and their uses and environmental impacts
  • Learn what is a mineral, what are the primary particles in an atom and how they join to make minerals, what are the physical properties of minerals used in mineral identification, and what are the major groups of minerals. This information will hepl us identify how minerals are used to make many objects in our daily lives including cement, abrasives, fertilizer, steel and other metals, glass, wallboard, sulfadrugs, chemicals, and jewelry; how much of these resources we have availalble; how are they extracted; and what environmental damages this may cause
  • Learn about the rock cycle and identifying minerals, textures and structures of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks. Learn how chemical and physical weathering alter rocks, what binds sediment grains together, and what causes metamorphism. Again, this information will help us unravel earth history but also understand how rocks are essential in our daily lives as a resource for building materials, foundations, coastal stabilization, melting ice (salt), and as fuels and in plastic manufacturing (coal and oil) and also understand the environmental damage associated with their extraction

Work required for Topic 1 (abbreviated) includes:
1) visiting and participating in the Discussion as directed
2) reading the Introduction to Earth Science and Chapters 1 and 2 from Fundamentals of Earth Science 8e
3) completing the Assignment for Topic 1 (at the Topic 1 block in our Moodle classroom.)
4) composing and posting an Earth Science poster as directed

Topic 2: Sculpting Earth's Surface by water, ice, and wind
  • Introduce weathering, mass wasting, and erosion. Review the hydrologic cycle. Learn about drainage basins and river systems, streamflow, and how streams move sediment and shape stream valleys. Learn about deltas and natural levees, floods and flood control measures. Discuss the importance of groundwater and describe how it moves and is distributed. Learn about springs, wells and artesian systems, dissolution of bedrock by groundwater, and environmental issues associated with groundwater. This information will show that mass wasting is a normal geologic process but it causes problems to human infrastructure and buildings. Surface water flows in streams that when flooded erode stream banks and deposit water and sediment where it is not wanted. It is the most common source of drinking water but is easily polluted by surface runoff from agriculture and by untreated chemical or sewage waste. Groundwater, familiar to anyone who has a well, is the water source for nearly half of Americans. It is also easily polluted by surface runoff, disposal of chemicals, leaky underground storage tanks, and by salt water incursion in coastal areas. It is recharged from surface water but is commonly used at a rate higher than its recharge rate. Many areas of the world suffer from water scarcity or lack of clean drinking water; the importance of water to the world's growing population can not be underestimated. Of course groundwater is also responsible for dissolving rock, particularly limestone, and if the overburden collapses, a sinkhole forms.
  • Learn the different types of glaciers, their characteristics, and their present day extent. Describe how glaciers move and learn what is a glacial budget. Learn to recognize features left behind by glaciers due to glacial erosion and deposition. Learn other effects of Ice Age glaciation on North America including glacial lakes and altered continental drainage patterns and the extend of glaciation and climate variability during the Ice Age. Understanding glaciers will help explain the effects of their melting due to climate change.
  • Assess the global distribution of drylands and deserts and the roles of water and wind in desert processes. Discuss the stages of landscape evolution in the Basin and Range. Learn desert features and wind deposits. Understanding how a desert funtions will explain why parts of the US are chronically short on water for cities and irrigation.

Work required for Topic 2 (abbreviated) includes:
1) visiting and participating in the Discussion as directed
2) reading Chapters 3 and 4 from Fundamentals of Earth Science 8e
3) completing the Assignment for Topic 2 (at the Topic 2 block in our Moodle classroom.)
4) composing and posting an Earth Science poster as directed

Topic 3: Plate tectonics, earthquakes, and volcanoes
  • Discuss the pre-1960's view of plate tectonics. Learn the characteristics of Earth's lithosphere and asthenosphere and their importance in plate tectonic theory. Learn about divergent, convergent and transform plate boundaries, what happens at each, and a location on Earth where each is occurring. Learn about the geophysical evidence that supports plate tectonic theory, why plates move, and how have plates and plate boundaries changed in the past and continue to change today. Understanding plate tectonics is key to predicting where earthquakes and volcanoes are likely to happen, thereby allowing for planning in advance.
  • Learn what is an earthquake, where it might occur, and about energy in the form of seismic waves generated by an earthquake. Learn how these seismic waves are used to locate an earthquake and determine its magnitude. Discuss earthquake intensity and destruction caused by earthquakes. Learn that seismic waves give a window into the structure of Earth and that earthquakes are used to define plate boundaries. Learn the different kinds of faults and the locations of Earth's major mountain belts.
  • Learn about different kinds of volcanic eruptions. Explain why some eruptions are explosive and others are quiescent. Learn about volcanic products: gas, lava, and pyroclastic materials (ash) and the basic anatomy of shield volcanoes, cinder cones, and composite volcanoes. Recognize hazards associated withvolcanoes and the basic volcanic landforms: calderas, fissure eruptions and lava plateaus, and volcanic necks and pipes.
  • Learn about below ground intrusive igneous features: dikes, sills, batholits, stocks, and laccoliths. Learn the processes that produce magma (melted rock) to feed volcanoes and underground igneous features. Learn about the distribution of different kinds of volcanic activity as related to plate tectonics.

Work required for Topic 3 (abbreviated) includes:
1) visiting and participating in the Discussion as directed
2) reading Chapters 5, 6 and 7 from Fundamentals of Earth Science 8e
3) completing the Assignment for Topic 3 (at the Topic 3 block in our Moodle classroom.)
4) composing and posting an Earth Science poster as directed

Topic 4: Geologic time and QUIZ 1
  • Briefly discuss the historic debate between uniformitarianism and catastrophism and how each affected early geologists' views of the age of the Earth. Learn how the geologic time scale was developed, using relative dating and fossils, and how eventually numerical ages were attached to the geologic time scale. Learn about radiometric dating and the terminology associated with the geologic time scale.

Work required for Topic 4 (abbreviated) includes:
1) visiting and participating in the Discussion as directed
2) reading Chapter 8 from Fundamentals of Earth Science 8e
3) completing the Assignment for Topic 4 (at the Topic 2 block in our Moodle classroom.)
4) QUIZ 1 (covers Topics 1 through 4)

Topic 5: The global ocean
  • Review the extent and distribution of oceans on Earth. Learn what is salinity, what are the main elements dissolved in sea water, the sources of those elements, and the causes of variations in salinity. Learn how temperature, salinity, and density of sea water change with depth. Define bathymetry and learn how the bathymetry of the ocean floor was mapped. Compare passive and active continental margins and learn the major features of ocean basins like deep trenches and ocean ridges. Learn the three categories of seafloor sediment and explain why these sediments can be used to study climate change during the Ice Age.
  • Learn about why currents exist in the ocean and both surface and deep water circulation patterns. Discuss the dynamic processes at the shoreline with respect to wave formation, and deposition, erosion and transport of shoreline sediments. Discuss society's reactions to shoreline erosion and where in North America problems are most acute. Learn about tides and how they affect shorelines.

Work required for Topic 5 (abbreviated) includes:
1) visiting and participating in the Discussion as directed
2) reading Chapters 9 and 10 from Fundamentals of Earth Science 8e
3) completing the Assignment for Topic 5 (at the Topic 5 block in our Moodle classroom.)
4) composing and posting an Earth Science poster as directed

'Topic 6: Earth's dynamic atmosphere'
  • Distinguish between weather and climate. Learn the features of Earth's atmosphere. Learn about Sun angle and how changes in Sun angle during the year cause seasons. Distinguish between heat and temperature and learn three mechanisms of heat transfer. Learn what is the greenhouse effect. Learn how Earth's atmospheric composition has changed since 1750 and what may be some future consequences. Learn to work with temperature data; discuss the principle controls on temperature and interpret patterns on world maps of January and July temperatures.
  • Discuss air masses, their classification, and associated weather. Compare weather associated with a typical cold front vs. a typical warm front. Describe as stationary front and an occluded front. Summarize the weather associated with the passing of a mature mid-latitude cyclone and the role of airflow aloft. Know the requirements for the formation of a thunderstorm and the stages of development of a thunderstorm. Locate places on a map that exhibit frequent thunderstorm activity. Know the atmospheric conditions and locations that are favorable to the formation of tornadoes and discuss tornado distribution and forecasting. Identify areas of hurricane formation on a world map and know the conditions that promote hurricane formation. List three broad categories of hurricane destruction.

Work required for Topic 6 (abbreviated) includes:
1) visiting and participating in the Discussion as directed
2) reading Chapters 11 and 14 from Fundamentals of Earth Science 8e
3) completing the Assignment for Topic 6 (at the Topic 6 block in our Moodle classroom.)
4) composing and posting an Earth Science poster as directed

Topic 7: Earth's place in the universe
  • Learn about the history of astronomy, including the geocentric vs. heliocentric view of the solar system and the contributions of Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, Galileo and Newton. Describe the formation of the solar system based on the nebular theory and explain the formation of the terrestrial vs. Jovian planets. Learn about the history of the Moon. Learn the major features of Mercury, Venus and Mars and describe how they are similar to and differ from Earth. Compare and contrast Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Learn about small bodies in the solar system: asteroids, comets, meteoroids, and dwarf planets.
  • Define cosmology and how Edwin Hubble determined that the universe was very large. Learn a brief history of the universe, the life cycle of stars, and how the H-R diagram is used to classify stars. Learn the major types of galaxies and how giant elliptical galaxies form. Learn about the big bang theory and the evidence for an ever-expanding universe.

Work required for Topic 7 (abbreviated) includes:
1) visiting and participating in the Discussion as directed
2) reading Chapters 15 and 16 from Fundamentals of Earth Science 8e
3) completing the Assignment for Topic 7 (at the Topic 7 block in our Moodle classroom.)
4) QUIZ 2 (covers Topics 5 through 7)

Please note: In order to receive accommodations for disabilities in this course, students must make an appointment to see the Americans with Disabilities Coordinator in their site and bring documentation with them.

Academic Honesty: CCV has a commitment to honesty and excellence in academic work and expects the same from all students. Academic dishonesty, or cheating, can occur whenever you present -as your own work- something that you did not do. You can also be guilty of cheating if you help someone else cheat. Being unaware of what constitutes academic dishonesty (such as knowing what plagiarism is) does not absolve a student of the responsibility to be honest in his/her academic work. Academic dishonesty is taken very seriously and may lead to dismissal from the College.

Course description details subject to change. Please refer to this document frequently.

To check on space availability, choose Search for Classes.

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