Lecturer: John Merck
Office: Geology 1119 (Occasionally in Centreville 1218)
Office Hours: Thursday, 12:00 - 2:00
Phone: 301-405-4379 (Geology)
I am available for individual meetings, either in person or through Zoom.
Description: An examination of the geologic and geochemical processes at work in the solar system from the perspectives supplied by space age exploration of the planets and other solar system bodies.
GenEd: This class fulfills a GenEd Distributive Studies Natural Science Course requirement (DSNS).
CORE: This class fulfills a CORE Physical Science Course requirement (PS).
Restriction: GEOL212 and ASTR330 - Solar System Astronomy cannot both be taken for credit.
Other courses: GEOL212 is an introductory level course that requires no college-level prerequisites. If you are looking for a more rigorous introduction to the Solar System and have the necessary prerequisites, you might consider ASTR430 - The Solar System or GEOL412 - The Geology of the Terrestrial Planets.
Attendance policy: Attendance is not a direct factor in your grade, however poor lecture attendance is strongly correlated with poor overall performance. Exams will be based on lecture material and reading assignments. Posted web notes are intended as a synopsis of lecture material only. Readings reinforce lecture material, however lectures may depart significantly from readings.
ELMS: This web site is your primary source of GEOL212 course material. The following, are available through ELMS:
- Grade records
- Panopto videos
- Most graded items (focus questions, homework, exams, etc.)
Course Organization: Course material is divided into fifteen topical modules. Each module will consist of:
- Two or three 40-50 minute lectures, each to be delivered as in-person lectures.
- Two or three sets of focus questions (one set for each lecture) reviewing major lecture concepts. Full credit is awarded for attempting the questions. Correct answers provided.
- Discussions of material to occur during in-person lectures.
- Ancillary material, including discussions of homework issues, to be delivered as Panopto lectures. Links to these will be available through ELMS or through the "reading assignment" column of the lecture schedule below.
Final grades: Final letter grades will be based on the following elements. If we end up meeting in person, expect to see revisions:
- Focus Questions: (10%) Short sets of questions intended to reinforce major concepts from the lectures. To receive credit, you must attempt to answer all questions.
- Homework: (15%) Ten assignments, each due the beginning of the week in which the material they cover will be addressed in lecture. The lowest score will be dropped. Because the purpose of these is both to review previous material and to prepare you for the following two week's lecture material, late homework will not be accepted except in the most serious extenuating circumstances.
- Midterm exams (3): (25% each with the lowest score dropped) These will be administered via ELMS. Details to be determined.
- Final exam: (25%) A cumulative final exam is given during the final period. Details to be determined.
Expectations: GEOL212 is an introductory course without college prerequisites, however it is expected that students will possess the standard knowledge expected of a high school graduate, including proficient comprehension of written and spoken English, and basic algebra and chemistry.
Grade calculation: With diligent work it is possible for each student to receive an A in this class. Grading will be based on points gained from the examinations listed above, as follows:
|100-97% = A+,||96-94% = A,||93-90% = A-,|
|89-87% = B+,||86-84% = B,||83-80% = B-,|
|79-77% = C+,||76-74% = C,||73-70% = C-,|
|69-67% = D+,||66-64% = D,||63-60% = D-,|
|<60% = F|
- Absences: Regular attendance and participation in this class is the best way to grasp the concepts and principles being discussed. However, reasonable accommodations for excused absences (as defined by university policy) will be provided where feasible. Students remain responsible for graded activities and information presented during lectures for which their absences are excused. For an absence to be excused, timely notification is required:
- Anticipated absences for sanctioned events including:
- Religious observances
- Mandatory military obligations
- Athletic events
- Participation in university events at the request of university authorities
- For unanticipated events such as:
- Medically necessary absence from class
- Family emergencies
- Court appearances
- Anticipated absences for sanctioned events including:
- Accommodations for People with Disabilities: If you have a documented disability, you should contact the instructor during the first week of class, and contact Disability Support Services 0126 Shoemaker Hall. Each semester students with documented disabilities should apply to ADS for accommodation request forms which you can provide to your professors as proof of your eligibility for accommodations. The rules for eligibility and the types of accommodations a student may request can be reviewed on the ADS web site.
- Dishonesty: The Student Honor Council observes that, "The University of Maryland, College Park has a nationally recognized Code of Academic Integrity, administered by the Student Honor Council. This Code sets standards for academic integrity at Maryland for all undergraduate and graduate students. As a student you are responsible for upholding these standards for this course. It is very important for you to be aware of the consequences of cheating, fabrication, facilitation, and plagiarism. For more information on the Code of Academic Integrity or the Student Honor Council, please visit https://studentconduct.umd.edu/."
Thus, in GEOL212, work submitted under your name, even for extra credit, must unambiguously be exclusively your own. Any evidence of dishonesty on any graded assignment will result in a referral to the Office of Student Conduct, whereupon your life will become very interesting, indeed. Have a nice day. :-O
For additional information on course policies, please consult the Office of Undergraduate Studies' comprehensive web site on Course Related Policies.
- Course Evaluations: CourseEvalUM will be open for students to complete their evaluations
for Fall 2020 courses between ***, and ***. Students can go
directly to the website to complete their evaluations,
beginning November ***. You will be alerted about these dates and provided more information closer
to that time, and students will be alerted via their official University e-mail account.
Students who complete evaluations for all of their courses in the previous semester (excluding summer), can access the posted results via Testudo's CourseEvalUM Reporting link for any course on campus that has at least a 70% response rate.
The expectation is that all students will complete these. This is YOUR chance to anonymously evaluate this class: please use this opportunity!
- Covid-19 Prevention Measures: President Pines provided clear expectations to the University about the wearing of masks for students, faculty, and staff. Face coverings over the nose and mouth are required while you are indoors at all times. There are no exceptions when it comes to classrooms and laboratories. Students not wearing a mask will be given a warning and asked to wear one, or will be asked to leave the room immediately. Students who have additional issues with the mask expectation after a first warning will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct for failure to comply with a directive of University officials.
- University Commitments:The University of Maryland is committed to providing support and resources, including academic accommodations, for students who experience sexual or relationship violence (as defined by the University's Sexual Misconduct Policy). To report an incident and/or obtain an academic accommodation, contact the Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct at 301-405-1142. If you wish to speak with someone confidentially, contact Campus Advocates Respond and Educate (CARE) to Stop Violence at 301-741-3555. Disclosures made to faculty are not confidential and must be reported to the Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct. For more information visit www.ocrsm.umd.edu.
- Acknowledgements: The instructor is grateful for the assistance of Drs. Andrew Campbell and Alan Peel, much of whose course material serves as a basis for these lectures.
- Copyright: © 2021 John W. Merck, Jr. as to this syllabus and all lectures. Students are prohibited from copying and selling course materials, from selling lecture notes, and from being paid to take lecture notes without the express written permission of the faculty teaching this course. Students violating this restriction will be deemed responsible for facilitation of academic dishonesty by the Office of Student Conduct.
|8-30||Course introduction, policies, major questions, knowledge assessment|
|9-1||Lecture: The Scientific Method||Ch. 1: section 1.1.1 and 1.3|
Lecture: General orientation to the Solar System I
|Ch. 1: sections 1.1.2-4 and 1.4|
|9-8|| Lecture: General orientation to the Solar System II
Due: Homework 1
|Ch. 1: section 1.1.5-6|
|9-10Lecture:||Lecture: General orientation to the Solar System III||Ch. 1: sections 1.1.7-11|
|9-13||Last day of add-drop|
Lecture: General orientation to the Solar System IV
Due: Homework 2
|9-15||Lecture: General orientation to the Solar System V|
|9-17||Lecture: General orientation to the Solar System VI||Ch. 7: sections 7.1-2|
|9-17||Informal exam review - Details TBD|
|9-20||Midterm exam I|
Lecture: An age of wonders
|Ch. 4: sections 4.1 - 4.6|
|9-22||Lecture: Chemistry and physics in 50 minutes!||Ch. 4: section 4.7|
|9-24||Lecture: Planetary motion: Gravity, orbits, and tides
||Ch. 2: sections 2.1|
Lecture: Surface processes I: Impact cratering
Due: Homework 3
|Ch. 2: section 2.2|
|9-29||Lecture: Surface processes II: Sedimentary Rocks||Ch. 2: section 2.3|
|10-1||Lecture: Surface processes III: Sedimentary Features||Ch. 2: section 2.3|
Lecture: Internal structure and densities of the solid worlds I - chemical evidence
Due: Homework 4
|Ch. 2: section 2.4|
|10-6||Lecture: Internal structure and densities of the solid worlds II - physical evidence||Ch. 2: section 2.5
|10-8||Lecture: Formation and differentiation of the planets|
Lecture: Sources and movement of heat within planets
Due: Homework 5
|10-13||Lecture: Earth Tectonics I|
|10-15||Lecture: Earth Tectonics II
||Ch. 3: sections 3.1 - 3.2|
|10-15||Informal exam review - Details TBD|
|10-18||Midterm exam II|
Lecture: Comparative tectonics I - The inner Solar System
|10-20||Lecture: Comparative tectonics II - The Jupiter System||Ch. 3: sections 3.3 - 3.5|
|10-22||Lecture: Comparative tectonics III - The Outer Solar System||Ch. 3: sections 3.3 - 3.5|
Lecture: Volcanism I: sources and composition of magma
Due: Homework 6
|Ch. 5: sections 5.1 - 5.3|
|10-27||Lecture: Volcanism II: Styles of volcanic eruptions, volcano - atmosphere interactions||Ch. 5: sections 5.4 - 5.7|
|10-29||Lecture: Volcanism III: comparative volcanism on the solid worlds||Ch. 6: sections 6.1 - 6.3|
Lecture: Atmospheres of the solid worlds I: origin and composition
Due: Homework 7
|Ch. 6: sections 6.4 - 6.5|
Lecture: Atmospheres of the solid worlds II: Structure and heat transport|
Lecture: Atmospheres of the solid worlds III: Magnetospheres, and the solar wind|
Lecture: The giant planets I: The Gas Giants - Jupiter and Saturn
Due: Homework 8
|Ch. 7: section 7.1 and 7.3|
|11-10||Lecture: The giant planets III: The Ice Giants - Uranus (ha ha) and Neptune||Ch. 9: section 9.1|
|11-12||Lecture: Ring and Satellite Systems||Ch. 9: section 9.1|
Lecture: Minor bodies I: The asteroid belt
Due: Homework 9
|Ch. 9: section 9.2 - 9.3|
|11-17||Lecture: Minor bodies II: Trans-Neptunian Objects and Centaurs||Ch. 9: section 9.2 - 9.3|
|11-19||Lecture: Minor bodies III: Comets|
|11-22||Midterm exam III|
Lecture: The natural history of meteorites
|11-24 to 26||Thanksgiving recess|
Lecture: Meteorite geochemistry and why we actually know what we know
|12-1||Stars and the interstellar medium |
Due: Homework 10
|12-3||Exoplanets I: How can we know anything?|
Lecture: Exoplanets II: What do we really know about solar systems?
|12-8||Why is there a Solar System?
|12-10||Life in the Solar System I - Earth and Mars|
|12-13||Life in the Solar System II - Sirens of Titan and the ocean worlds|
The instructor reserves the right to modify this schedule at his most trivial whim and will certainly adjust in response to all directives from the Provost's Office.