GES4310 - Principles of Geomorphology - Schedule

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Schedule may change. Changes will be announced in class.


Jan. 26, Week 1: Course Introduction, Fundamentals of Geomorphology, Climatic and Topographic Diversity

  • Topic #1: Welcome, introductions, syllabus
  • Topic #2: Geomorphology plus a few other key terms defined
  • Topic #3: Why study geomorphology?
  • Topic #4: Geomorphology as a systems science: elements, signals, feedbacks, time
  • Topic #5: Together, climatic and topographic diversity bring geomorphology to life (and why this is especially true in Colorado)
  • Topic #6: Semester summary in slides
  • Readings due before class next week:
    1. Ritter et al. 2002, Ch. 1
    2. Phillips 2003 (sources of non-linearity)
    3. Hewitt 2006 (catastrophic events, cascade effect)
    4. Savigear 1952 (ergodic theorem application)

Feb. 2, Week 2: Foundations of Geomorphology

  • Topic #1: Theories of landform evolution and the rise of modern process geomorphology
  • Topic #2: The Principle of Uniformitarianism: Some cautions and problems (time, convergence, and divergence)
  • Topic #3: Driving and resisting forces
  • Topic #4: Thresholds and non-linear behavior, cascade effect and linked processes, ergodicity, isostacy
  • Readings due before class next week:
    1. Ritter et al. 2002, Ch. 4 (pp. 80-92; stop at "Physical Properties of Unconsolidated Debris")
    2. Turkington et al. 2005 (introduction to weathering and landscape evolution)

Feb. 9, Week 3: Rock Weathering - Process

  • Topic #1: (catch-up from last week) - ergodicity, isostacy
  • Topic #2: Rock weathering basics
  • Topic #3: Physical rock weathering (did not finish these today)
  • Topic #4: Chemical rock weathering (did not get to this today)
  • Topic #5: Earth decay - Video: Life After People (2008)
  • Readings due before class next week:
    1. Villa et al. 1995 (fissuresols)
    2. Dorn 2004 (case hardening/core softening)
    3. McBride and Picard 2000 (tafoni)
    4. Turkington and Phillips 2004 (cavernous weathering)
    5. Paradise and Yin 1993 (weathering pits)
    6. McFadden et al. 2005 (exposed rocks)

Feb. 16, Week 4: Rock Weathering - Form (Lab One)

  • Topic #1: Finish up from last week - a few more mechanical wxing processes, chemical wxing processes (carbonation, hydrolosis, oxidation)
  • Topic #2: Rock weathering forms (didn't finish all of them this week)
  • Topic #3: Student presentations of readings: fissuresols, case hardening / core softening (tafoni and other cavernous features), weathering / gnamma pits, spheroidal weathering (this is Lab One)
  • Readings due before class next week:
    1. Hancock and Skinner 2009 (rock coatings)
    2. Pollard and Aydin 1988 (jointing in rocks)
    3. Cruikshank and Aydin 1994 (natural arch formation)
    4. Laity and Malin 1985 (ground water sapping)
    5. Fitzner et al. 2004 (building/monument weathering)
    6. Inkpen et al. 2001 (weathering form mapping)

Feb. 23, Week 5: UCCS CLOSURE


Mar. 2, Week 6: Rock Weathering Forms in Depth, Red Rock Canyon Open Space Themes

  • Topic #1: Stuff to think about: surface area, asymmetry
  • Topic #2: Rock weathering forms: rock coatings (two only), case-hardeneding, salt diapirs (domes) and their relationship to weathering forms, joints in rocks, arches, theater-headed valleys
  • Topic #3: Building and momunent weathering, weathering form mapping and GIS
  • Topic #4: Field trip-themed research / student mini-presentations (the Bock's, Ute Pass / Rampart Range faults, Mesa Gravels, etc.)
  • Readings due before field trip next week:
    1. Barry 2008 (general microclimate and topoclimate)
    2. Littmann 2008 (arid land microclimate and topoclimate)
    3. Dobrowski et al. 2009 (mountain topoclimate)
    4. Western Water Assessment 2015 (intermountain West climate and precipitation map) -- not a PDF, see readings list for link

Mar. 9, Week 7: Red Rock Canyon Open Space during-class (1:30 - ~4:00) field trip, and Lab Two

  • Topic #1: Field trip around RRCOS (~ 2.5 mile loop)
  • Topic #2: Lab Two: Different scales of climatic geomorphology
  • For next week: Study for Test One

Mar. 16, Week 8: TEST ONE

  • Readings due before next class (after spring break):
    1. Recall readings that were due Mar. 9 (Barry 2008, Littmann 2008, etc.)

Mar. 23, Week 9: Spring Break - GO EXPLORE!


Mar. 30, Week 10: Mountain Weather Regimes and Five Scales of Climatic Geomorphology

  • Topic #1: Adiabatic and orographic processes, mountain/valley thermal circulation patterns
  • Topic #2: Climate scales that drive landsurface evolution (continental > state-to-mountain range > county-level >topoclimate >microclimate)
  • Readings due before next class:
    1. Ritter et al. 2002 Ch. 7
    2. Foster 2010 (megafloods from Glacial Lake Missoula and Lake Bonneville)
    3. Larimer County, Colo. 2010 (Big Thompson flood of 1976)
    4. Kiver and Warren, 2011 (Ice Age floods in the Pacific Northwest)

Apr. 6, Week 11: Fluvial Landforms

  • Topic #1: The drainage basin (development, morphometry, hydrology)
  • Topic #2: Fluvial landforms
  • Topic #3: Mega-floods: Colorado floods of 2013, Big Thompson flood of 1976, Pleistocene Lake Missoula (28 min. video)
  • Topic #4: Geomorphic mapping practice - South Mountain, AZ (you will complete Lab Two in the field next week at Red Rock Canyon Open Space - this mapping exercise is practice for Lab Three)
  • Readings due before next class:
    1. Ritter et al. 2002 Ch. 4 (Start "Physical Properties of Uncon...", stop with "Slope Profiles" -- In 5th Ed., pgs. 100-139; in 4th Ed., pgs. 98-127)
    2. Parise et al. 2003 (Slumgullion earthflow, Colorado)
    3. Brantley et al. 2004 (Yellowstone dynamics)

Apr. 13, Week 12: Heller Center during-class (1:30 - ~4:00) field trip, and Lab Three Link to Lab Three | Geology Handout

  • Topic #1: Roam around the Heller Center, observe, appreciate, look at landform evolution
  • Topic #2: Geomorphic Mapping (this is Lab Three)

OPTIONAL FIELD TRIP, FRIDAY, APR. 17: NATIONAL CENTER FOR ATMOSPHERIC RESEARCH (NCAR), BOULDER, CO - SHUTTLE DEPARTS AT 11:00 am, back to UCCS by 5:30 pm. DETAILS PROVIDED IN CLASS.


Apr. 20, Week 13, NO CLASS - AAG CHICAGO


Apr. 27, Week 14, PAPER DUE, Mass Wasting (Focus on Slumgullion Earthflow); Arid Land Geomorphology; Physiography / Physiographic Regions of Colorado (Lab 4)

  • Topic #1: Mass wasting, mass wasting hazards
  • Topic #2: Slumgullion Earthflow, CO; Yellowstone National Park, WY (a hazard extraordinaire)
  • Topic #3: Desert Landforms
  • Topic #4: Physiography defined / physiographic regions of Colorado (intermountain basins, mountain ranges, mountains, canyons, rivers)
  • Topic #5: Lab Four (handed out in class)
  • Readings due before class next week:
    1. Ritter et al. 2002, Ch. 9
    2. Ritter et al. 2002, Ch. 10
    3. Guido et al. 2007 (San Juan Mtn. ice cap)
    4. Bellian et al. 2005 (TLS of rock outcrops)

May 4, Week 15, PAPER RETURNED; Glaciations; Rock Glaciers; Technologies in Geomorphology (laser scanning)

  • Topic #1: Bull Lake and Pinedale glacial remnants across Colorado
  • Topic #2: One remarkable San Juan Mtn. valley glacier
  • Topic #3: Rock glaciers
  • Topic #4: Technologies in Geomorphology: (i) availability of digital data, (ii) geographic information technologies, (iii) DEMs and geomorphometry, (iv) data collection instruments (focus on lidar)
  • Topic #5: Hand out review for Exam Two
  • Readings due before class next week:
    1. STUDY FOR EXAM TWO

May 11, Week 16, TEST TWO, REVISED PAPER DUE (optional)