Spring 2025


Listed in: Geology, as GEOL-341


Nicholas D. Holschuh (Sections 01, 01L and 02L)


Before the boundaries between physics and geology were drawn, those who studied the Earth system were “natural philosophers” -- scientists who sought order in the cosmos through quantitative description of the world around us. Despite the modern disciplinary labels, physics and geology are still intertwined, as physical laws form the basis for explaining and exploring Earth’s most fundamental systems. In this course, we will use the physicist’s tool kit to investigate questions in tectonics, seismology, hydrology, and climate. We will collect data using concepts in acoustics, electromagnetics, and gravitation, which allow us to characterize the Earth in four dimensions. Finally, we will use these observations to understand energy and mass flow at all scales, exploring questions about the interior of our planet, the top of our atmosphere, and everything in between. This class will be a quantitative exploration of the Earth system, and is designed to help build physics-based intuition in the geosciences. Specific math, physics, and/or geology course work is not required; these skills will be built during the course. Three hours of class and three hours of lab each week.

Spring Semester. Assistant Professor Holschuh. 

How to handle overenrollment: null

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Emphasis on group work, field work, quantitative work, in-class quizzes and/or exams.

Course Materials


Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015