Morrison Formation in Utah

The Life System

Paul E. Olsen

Lecture and Lab - Tuesday
Recitation - Thursday

Beginning: Spring, 1997.


The "Life System" component of the "Earth's Environmental Systems" series provides an integrated view of the biological component of the Earth system. It emphasizes the role of life in biogeochemical cycles, the role of the physical Earth in biodiversity and evolution; and the importance of history to understanding the context of Earth systems. It also stresses the biotic systems, in contrast to the physical systems, as maintaining the non-equilibrium state of the Earth's surface.

The course is divided into three parallel "Streams". Stream I is comprised of weekly topic divided into a Tuesday lecture, and a Thursday "recitation", all focusing on the operation of the system. The latter will be not only discussion, but also computer oriented. Students will work with models and on-line data streams. They will have their own take home computers which will allow them to continue afterwards (this is true of all three of the Department of Geological Sciences core courses). Stream 2, is a lab focusing on the system elements. This is intended to be a very substantial part of the course in which students gain experience with working with parts of the Biosphere. Again, computer-related experiments and analysis will be very important, complimenting the more traditional descriptive aspects of the lab. This is also where students will gain experience with methods of approaching biological systems such as phylogenetic analysis and biostratigraphy. Stream 3, is made up of the bi-weekly field trips. These will examine different ecosystems and records of ecosystems. The trips into modern ecosystems will focus on the big interrelated components of the system and how they are measured and monitored. Again, the intent of the entire course is to view the biological component of the Earth as part of the Earth system.

Table of Contents

Cretaceous-Tertiary Boundary in Raton Basin
Lecture Notes
Field Trips
Geological Time Scale

Related Sites

Earth's Environmental Systems (V2100, V2200, V2300)
Dinosaurs and The History of Life (V1001y)
Summer Field Camp at Biosphere 2
Life System EES Climate Group LDEO Columbia

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