Office of Academic Affairs
Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Berhampur

Earth and Environmental Sciences

EES 102: Introduction to Earth Sciences (3)

Learning Objectives:

This is an undergraduate level course to introduce students to the basic concepts of Earth Science. The course gives an introduction to the dynamic planet Earth, explains the natural principles and processes that govern how its interior works and couples with the external system. In essence, this course provides a beginner's guide to planet Earth. Upon the completion of this course the student will have an understanding of the co-evolution of the Earth and life.

Course Contents:

An introduction to Earth Sciences:
Disciplines of Earth science; Earth system science and its role in global environmental management and sustainability.

An overview of the Universe:
The Big Bang; Nucleosynthesis and formation of stars; Nebular condensation and formation of the Solar System; Planets, meteorites, comets, asteroids; Early history of terrestrial planet.

Interior of the Earth:
Continental and oceanic crust; Mantle and its discontinuities; Core; Earth’s internal heat; Earth’s magnetic field; Earth’s surface topography as a product of coupling of endogenic-exogenic processes.

Solid Earth Materials:
Mineralogy – Definition and physical properties of minerals; Bonding and crystal structure; Basic crystallography; Important mineral groups; Formation, exploration, and production of ore deposits; Global mineral resources.
Rock Cycle and Petrology – The rock cycle; Magmas, magmatic differentiation, magmatic intrusions; Classification of igneous rocks; Bowen’s reaction series; Weathering, regolith and soil formation; Sediments and the sedimentary cover; Classification of sedimentary rocks; Sedimentary structures and bedforms; Metamorphism and associated changes; Classification of metamorphic rocks.

Earth’s Deformation and Natural Hazards:
Structural Geology - Concepts of stress, strain and deformation; Techniques of measuring and mapping geologic features; Introduction to brittle and ductile deformation; Mechanisms of faults, fractures and folds.
Volcanoes – Types of volcanoes and their products; Monitoring and predicting volcanic activity; Effect of volcanoes on the climate and environment.
Earthquakes – What is an earthquake; Earthquake nomenclature; Mercalli scale; Causes of earthquakes; Seismic zones of India.
Plate Tectonics – Paleomagnetism and sea-floor spreading; Lithospheric plates; Divergent boundaries; Continental rifting; Convergent plate boundaries; Transform faults and hotspots; What drives plate tectonics.

The Geologic Record:
Concept of Time – Geologic time; Relative versus absolute age; Principles of stratigraphy; Geologic time and life; Numerical dating; The age of the Earth.
Life on Earth – Early life; Species, evolution, and natural selection; How fossils form; Evolution and extinctions.

Energy and Material Resources:
Resources and Reserves – Energy resources, oil and natural gas, coal; Alternative fossil fuels; Energy Policy; Mineral resources; Ore deposits and plate tectonics; Finding new mineral deposits.
Hydrological Resources – Hydrological cycle and water budgets; Aquifer properties; Groundwater flow; Groundwater-surface water interactions; Groundwater pollution and contaminant transport.

Suggested Readings :

  1. Press, F., and Siever, R., 2001, Understanding Earth (3rd Edition), Freeman and Co. Ltd.
  2. Grotzinger, J., and Jordan, T., 2014, Understanding Earth (7th Edition), Freeman and Co. Ltd.

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