Geology 3220-Ocean Systems; Fall ’13

Course #40976; TR 12:30-1:45; Wood Hall 1001


Dr. Dave Barnes, Professor of Geology


In person: Rood 1135;

by phone: 7-5493

by e-mail:

Office hours: after class TR, or by appointment



Oceanography: An Invitation to Marine Science

Eighth Ed., Tom Garrison, ISBN #9781133873884


Course Objectives and Learning Outcomes

·            I hope to provide a broad and enjoyable coverage of Ocean System, a course that addresses Oceanography and the Marine Sciences. This course fulfills, for many of you, Distribution Area VII: Natural Science and Technology Applications and Implications in your University General Education Requirements.

·            My approach will emphasize our current understanding of this complex system, developed through centuries of scientific investigations, and the evolution of technology on which our current understanding is based. We will focus on the typical subdivisions of Marine Science:

1.    Geological Oceanography                              3.        Biological Oceanography

2.    Physical Oceanography                                  4.        Chemical Oceanography

And Climate Studies, which crosses all sub-disciplines

·            This systems approach, in the sciences, crosses traditional scientific disciplines in order to better understand this huge and dominant portion of the Earth's surface environment, the World’s Ocean. We will study the world's Ocean on the basis of information generated by scientific investigations (using the Scientific Method) with the benefit of an exciting array of new technologies ranging from satellites able to "view" entire ocean basins in a single day to submersibles capable of directly exploring the deepest depths of the oceans.

·            The main Learning Outcomes for the course are an understanding and appreciation for:

1.    How scientific investigations provide us with our best and most reliable knowledge regarding Earth (and especially ocean) systems and processes (e.g. origin of the ocean, plate tectonics, ocean physiography, atmospheric and oceanic circulation, ocean waves and tides, biological evolution through natural selection, trophic systems and food webs, etc..)

2.    The fundamental and increasing importance of the Oceans as a source of food and other natural resources and the damage that has resulted from unwise and non-sustainable exploitation of these resources.

3.    The direct influence of the world’s ocean on Earth’s natural environment; an environment that now (fortunately!) sustains human as well as all other life on Earth.

4.    How policy decisions and societal activities impact the Ocean System and the possible outcomes of these decisions and activities


We will cover a lot of knowledge/facts but this is not the only objective of the course. The learning outcomes emphasis the scientific approach used to understand the world around us and demonstrate why our society places so much emphasis on understanding the World’s Ocean: this knowledge can be used to make better and more sustainable societal decisions.


Course Procedures

·            My presentation of  GEOS 3220, Ocean Systems, and the basis for content on exams/quizzes and graded in-class discussions (see Grading, below), will be accomplished using mostly  familiar “delivery systems”:

1.    Lectures using a Power Point format along with extensive use of the Interactive Instant Response System, i>clicker associated with class interactive discussions. The Power Point presentations (minus i>clicker questions) will be available in advance through e-Learning, using your login/My Courses, GEOS-3220-410 - Ocean Systems.

2.    Reading assignments from a very good textbook (well written for the non-science oriented!) as indicated in the Tentative Schedule and Assignments: below.

·            I cannot, during in-class lectures alone, present a sufficiently complete coverage of this very broad topic to make the course a meaningful experience. Neither is it possible for you to simply read the textbook, only, and expect to perform well on exams/quizzes and in-class interactive discussions. There is way too much material in the textbook for us to cover in this course and you will not develop appropriate focus on the material related to our course. 

·            Therefore, it is very important that you focus your study time and attention on the portions of the text that relate to the topic materials I cover in class lectures and that will be “on the test”. I will focus your attention on course content in class lectures and discussions and you must develop a more thorough understanding of these topics through reading your textbook. BOTTOM LINE: you will need to have and use your textbook and come to class throughout the course!!

·            The VERY BEST METHOD FOR SUCCESS in Geology 3220, Ocean Systems, and of course, achieve an understanding of the course material, is to come to class with some grasp of the subject material that we are scheduled to cover (see Tentative Schedule and Assignments:, below) by previewing topic material in your textbook and previewing/downloading in-class presentations before we talk about the related topics in class. We can talk more about class preparation and use of the textbook early in the semester.

·            YOU MUST NOT PLAN ON UNNECESSARY CLASS ABSENCES! I will ask students to establish small study groups consisting of other students in the class to work together in case you are forced to miss class!!! I cannot be available at your convenience for remedial work due to inappropriate and unexcused absences.

·            PLEASE, turn off beepers, pagers, and cell phones. These are unacceptable class room disruptions. You may not kill anyone if you text/e-mail/facebook/etc. during class, but you will certainly be defeating the purpose of class attendance. I encourage you to put down your personal electronics and concentrate on class activities.


·           Grades will be assigned on a fixed grading scale as follows (with point totals rounded up):

A   ...............100%-94%                 BA ................93%-88%                 B ..............87%-82%

CB ...............81%-76%                   C   .................75%-70%                  DC ...........69%-65%

D  ................64%-60%                   E  ...................below 60%


·               Your course grade will be determined by:

1.          In class i>clicker questions.  This is an interactive component of the course with ~5 to 10 points per class meeting, total of about 150 points; 10% of your grade. We will discuss the mandatory (attendance) versus extra credit (actual correct answer to in-class questions) point breakdown.

2.         Semi-weekly online quizzes (8) will comprise 25% of your grade. Weekly quizzes will be taken through your GoWMU account's E-learning link.

§    Quizzes will cover weekly reading assignments as well as the material covered in class and comprise 20 - 25 questions.

§    Quizzes are available between Thursday evening and Saturday evening of the week that they are assigned.

§    You will have only one chance to answer each question correctly. Not all students will see exactly the same questions.

§    These quizzes give you an early opportunity to experience exam questions. You will not be given a second chance for any questions. You can use it as an open-book quiz, but when you will have a time limit of one hour in which to take the quiz. I will discard your lowest quiz grade when compiling your quiz grades for the semester.

§    There will be no quiz on the first week of class (due to students adding and dropping that week) or on weeks in which the in-class exams are given (except on 11/14). There will be no quiz on Thanksgiving week.

§    Tentative quiz weeks are: weeks 2,3,4 (9/12, 19, & 26); weeks 6 &7 (10/10 &17); weeks 9 &10 (10/31 & 11/7); week 11 & 12 (11/14 & 21)

§    Many of the quiz questions (or very similar questions) will appear on the traditional in-class exams.

3.         4 Traditional, ~75 minute, objective, in-class exams worth a minimum of 100 points each (100 questions); 40% of your grade.

§   I will discard your lowest semester exam score and count your best 3 exams

§   There will be no post-exam make-ups; if you must miss an exam (for any documented reason) I can provide an alternative time BEFORE the scheduled exam. This includes student athletes and other scheduled University extracurricular activities. 

4.         A Final Comprehensive Exam (~200 questions); 25% of your grade.

5.          For those students who score a minimum of 93.5% (average) on the quizzes, attendance, and ALL four SEMESTER EXAMS, the final exam is not required. You will receive an “A” grade.


Tentative Schedule and Assignments:



Introduction, Origin of the Ocean, and History of Marine Sciences

·        Appendix I, II, III, IV, IX:  Units, Geological Time, Location Systems, Charts/Cartography

ü  Pp. 548-559; pp. 568-575; Box 2.1, p. 37

·        Chapter 1: The Origin of the Ocean

ü  Pp. 1-7; 14-21

·        Chapter 2: History of Marine Science

ü  Pp. 32-63 (especially 45-63)

Origins of the Continents and the Ocean Basins; Plate Tectonics; Ocean Basin Physiography

  • Chapter 3: Earth Structure and Plate Tectonics

ü  Pp. 67-108

  • Chapter 4: Ocean Basins

ü  Pp. 113-46

The Materials of the Sea Floor

·      Chapter 5 : Marine Sediments

ü  Pp.  149-72

9/3 to 10/1;

(8 class meetings)

Exam #1

Oct 1 (Module 1)

Sea Floor Resources

·        Chapter 17: Marine Resources (Physical)

ü  Pp. 493-500

Ocean Water Chemistry & Structure

·        Chapter 6: Water and Ocean Structure (Appendix VII)

ü  Pp. 175-203 (especially 175-195); 

·        Chapter 7: Seawater Chemistry

ü  Pp. 207-23

Environmental Concerns and Marine Pollution

·        Chapter 18: The Ocean and the Environment (Marine Pollution)

ü   Pp. 517-32


(5 class meetings)

Exam #2

Oct 22 (Module 2)

Atmospheric ad Oceanic Circulation

·        Chapter 8: Circulation of the Atmospheric

ü  Pp. 227-58

  • Chapter 9: Circulation of the Ocean

ü  Pp. 263-93

Global Climate Change: The "Green House Effect"

·        Chapter 18: The Earth’s Climate is Changing

ü  Pp. 533-44


(5 class meetings)

Exam #3

Nov 12 (Module 3)

Ocean Waves: Wind Waves and Tides

·        Chapter 10 & 11: Waves & Tides

ü  Pp. 297-327; Pp. 331-338

Coastal Processes: The Coastal Environment

·        Chapter 12: Coasts

ü  Pp. 351-80 (also, Geology of Michigan: Modern-day Processes; Pp. 17-21)

Biological Oceanography: Environments and Requirements for Life

·         Chapter 13: Life in the Oceans

ü  Pp 385-409

Controls on the abundance of life; Biological Productivity and Trophic Systems

·        Chapter 14: Plankton, Algae, and Plants: Primary Productivity

ü  Pp. 413-33

·        Chapter 17: Marine Resources; Biological

ü  Pp. 500-13


(5 class meetings)

Exam #4

Dec. 5 (Module 4)

Important Dates:

Wednesday, Nov 27- Thanksgiving Recess (noon)

Monday, Sept 9 - Registration drop/add ends, end of 100% refund

Monday, Nov 4 - Last day to withdraw without academic penalty

Final Exam: Thursday - Dec. 12; 2:45 p.m. - 4:45 p.m.