Geog 810: Seminar in Geomorphology     Syllabus Spring 2011

Jerry Davis. Office: HSS 279. Hours MW: 1:30-3:30 pm, or by appt.

or by appt. phone 338-2983 (also try labs at 338-6140/338-3566)

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 a few 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 on the last date of regular assigned readings (see schedule), 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, on the GROUP DECISION DATE. This first group will get the first choice of a date to make your final presentations. On that date, 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 two articles of your choosing from your topic. One of these will be an article you 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. This review should also be made available to all participants on the night the group topics are discussed, by pdf attachment in your discussion 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. See the schedule below for due dates for: (1) A short (2-page max) proposal for your project, and (2) the final written paper. All should be printed and prepared as a pdf document.

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:

Apr 29-May 1: Hydraulic mining and alpine meadow sites, Sierra Nevada field campus.


1/24 Introduction to course, first readings assigned
1/31 Foundations of Geomorphology: Landscape Evolution & Equilibrium Models
2/7 Landscape Evolution & Equilibrium Models (contd.)
2/14 Landscape Evolution & Equilibrium Models (contd.)
2/21 Geomorphic Response to Agriculture & Grazing
2/28 Geomorphic Response to Forestry & Roads
3/7 Geomorphic Response to Dams & Flooding
3/14 Biogeomorphologic Systems
3/21 Geomorphic Response to Urbanization
Individual topics & project proposal due; first group assigns readings
3/28 no class: spring break
4/4 group topics
4/11 group topics
4/18 group topics
4/25 group topics
5/2 no class
5/9 final project presentations (4 per session)
5/16 final project presentations (4 per session)

Week 1: Geomorphic Systems & Equilibria