Geog 810: Seminar in Geomorphology     Syllabus Spring 2009

Jerry Davis. Office: HSS 273. Hours MW: 3-4:30; W 11-12, or by appt.

or by appt. phone 338-2983 (also try GIS lab at 338-6140/338-6332)

In this seminar, we'll investigate geomorphic response systems, especially related to human activities.  We'll focus primarily on fluvial, slope and watershed-level systems. We'll start with a brief look at the foundations of geomorphological theory, followed by a more applied look at natural and human impacts on slopes, fluvial systems, and watersheds, and ending with special topics to be determined by the participants. Participants will be expected to read the assigned articles and participate in discussions during the seminar meetings. Each week, discussants will prepare a short assessment of the articles (1 each) and post these in a Discussion (one per article) in an iLearn forum created for the topic, by Thursday evening. Other course participants will then reply to these assessments with a short (one-paragraph) response to bring with them to the seminar.

Group Topics: Continuing in this vein, we'll have four weeks wherein we'll discuss readings from topics to be determined by groups (of 4 participants each). Each group will choose four articles (one from each participant) of a common general theme (e.g. environmental change, equilibrium theory, weathering, karst, hazards) for the entire seminar to read, and the readings and topics are discussed by the entire seminar on the evening for that group. We will need the first group to be ready to go March 16, with assigned articles ready to distribute, so I'll need to hear from a group of volunteers that wish to start then by the session before (March 9). This first group will get the first choice of a date to make your final presentations. On March 9 we'll also work out the rest of the groups and dates; the second group will get the next choice of final presentation date, etc. For group topics, we will also use iLearn, and articles and assessments will be posted as attachments in an Discussion (one per article) for the iLearn forum created for your group.

Interpreted articles: Each individual will prepare interpretations of one article of your choosing from your topic. This article will also be assigned for all to read (preferably made available as a pdf for individual access). These interpretations should be concise (typically 2 pages) and include the following: (1) a full bibliographic reference for the article; (2) a concise description of the results of the research, including at least one illustration (unless the article has no significant figures); and (3) the significance of this paper to your topic.

Final Project: Each participant will write a final project paper, based upon library work or some mixture of library and field work, to be presented on one of the last four nights of the seminar. A short (2-page max) proposal for your project should be turned March 26. Final written papers are due on May 11.  All should be prepared as a pdf document to be stored on the course web page.

Style: See the "Style Guide" on the course web page. This guide includes style suggestions for this seminar, including the use of a scientific instead of journalistic style of writing.

Evaluation: Participants will be evaluated on the basis of overall performance in each of these requirements, with 35% assigned to the final project (proposal, paper & presentation), 35% to the instructor-assigned articles (from discussant reviews, responses, and general participation), and 30% to the group-assigned topics (also from reviews, responses and participation.)

Field Trip:

April 24-26: Hydraulic mining and alpine meadow sites, Sierra Nevada field campus.


1/26 Introduction to course, first readings assigned
2/2 Foundations of Geomorphic Systems & Equilibria
2/9 Equilibrium Models in Geomorphology
2/16 Geomorphic Response to Agriculture & Grazing
2/23 Geomorphic Response to Forestry and Roads
3/2 Geomorphic Response to Dams and Flooding
3/9 Biogeomorphologic Systems
3/16 Geomorphic Response to Urbanization
Individual topics & project proposal due; first group assigns readings
3/30, 4/6, 4/13, 4/20 group topics
4/27, 5/4, 5/11, 5/18 final project presentations (4 per session)

Week 1: Geomorphic Systems & Equilibria