Earth Sciences 089G: Lecture Resources 

Each powerpoint lecture presentation will be posted here and will remain available for one week onlythey will not be reposted under any circumstances.


Hopefully you have taken time to think of a suitable topic for your term paper and now have something firmly in mind.  As promised, a short list of example topics is now available: (MSWord file) or (PDF file).

This list should help you to better understand the kinds of topics that are of relevance to this course.  All topics should have a strong and easily identifiable geological aspect which should be blended in some manner with an element of human culture.

You may use these topics as a starting point for your own term paper.  You will note, however, that most of them, as given, are quite general in nature, and thus will require further refinement and definition before they are acceptable.  You are also cautioned against picking the same topic as your friend and working collaboratively on the paper.  The term paper must be the product of an individual effort!    

For those who are concerned about the formatting of references for the proposal, the layout of your reference list should look something like this: (MSWord file) or (PDF file).

Make sure you follow the CJES instructions (for references) precisely.
 CJES formatting:  (HTML); (PDF format).
You may deal with electronic (i.e. website) references in the following manner: 
(MSWord file) or (PDF file). 

Term paper topic proposals will be accepted at any time up until the indicated cutoff date (see outline).  Please use the comments in the course outline as the guide for assembling your proposal.

Additional comments on the term paper topic proposal: (MSWord file) or (PDF file). 


(Word format) or (PDF format)


The teaching assistants (TAs) for this course are as follows:

Arslan Akhmetov (; Staging Building, Rm. 209

Catrina Alexandrakis (; 
Staging Building, Rm 213

Duncan Bain (; 
Staging Building, Rm. 209

Pengfei Chen (; 
Staging Building, Rm. 112

Ayumi Mae (; 
Staging Building, Rm. 213

Jessica Metcalfe (; 
Staging Building, Rm. 112

Derek Smyth (; Biological and Geological Sciences Building, Rm. 1014

The first four assignments will be marked entirely by the TAs.

If there are concerns about the way in which your assignment has been graded, please contact the TA directly responsible.

Each TA should have identified themselves by their initials or signature on your paper.  If no identifying marks are present, please contact Catrina for assistance.  

In all cases, questions regarding late penalties should be directed toward Catrina Alexandrakis.

(NOTE: Online articles are primarily intended to enhance the student's knowledge and appreciation of the material covered in each lecture.  Students are not responsible for topics in online articles not addressed in the lectures, nor is their level of comprehension of subject matter expected to exceed that as required for the lectures and assignments.)


JAN. 8
   Introduction to Earth, Art and Culture

                (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)

JAN. 9   LECTURE: The Earth System: Our View of Planet Earth
                (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)

Goldilocks and the habitable zone

Factors affecting stellar "habitable zones"  

Would we recognize life on another planet if we found it?

Solar nebular hypothesis of origin of the Solar System

Earth structure (core to atmosphere)

The current scientific concept of "the underworld"

The structure of Dante's Inferno

Overview of the interior of the Earth

Earth's four spheres

JAN. 11
 LECTURE: Minerals and their Properties
                 (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)

Chemical bonding, ionic and covalent

General reference for definition of minerals and mineral properties

Metallic bonding and metal properties


JAN. 15  LECTURE: Minerals as Gemstones

                (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)

Gems and their valued qualities

Some physical properties of gemstones

Gemology and lapidary site

Grading gem clarity

Opal and play of colours
Corundum gems: rubies and sapphires

Corundum gems and spinel. How would you distinguish them?        

Estimating gem weight through use of specific gravity (assuming it is the mineral it is supposed to be)

Different types of gemstone cuts

Geometry of the standard brilliant cut

The Emerald cut: note the difference in price of Emerald cut and equivalent Brilliant cut diamonds

JAN. 16 LECTURE: Igneous Rocks
                (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)

The three basic rock types  

Igneous rocks: classification, formation, environments, intrusions etc.

A heat source for magma generation

Mineral classification and the silicates

The Silica Tetrahedron



Only for those who are really curious

Short Practical Assignment #1: Minerals, Art and Architecture

JAN. 18 PRE-ASSIGNMENT PRESENTATION (Powerpoint Presentation) or (PDF file)
               ASSIGNMENT #1 (MSWord file) or (PDF file)


JAN. 22  LECTURE: Sedimentary Rocks

                (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)

Mechanical and Chemical weathering 1

Mechanical and Chemical weathering 2

Mechanical and Chemical weathering 3

Mechanical and Chemical weathering 4


Weathering and clay minerals

Sedimentary Rock types and Classification 1

Sedimentary Rock types and Classificaton 2


JAN. 23  LECTURE: Metamorphic Rocks and Environments
                (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)

Metamorphic Rock Classification

Metamorphism and Metamorphic rocks 1

Metamorphism and Metamorphic rocks 2

Metamorphism and Metamorphic rocks 3

Shale to Gneiss transformation; Migmatites

Slate, Phyllite, Schist, Gneiss

Metamorphic grade

An interesting case of retrograde metamorphism



Soapstone and Talc

Short Practical Assignment #2: Rocks and Art
JAN. 25
PRE-ASSIGNMENT PRESENTATION (Powerpoint Presentation) or (PDF file)
               ASSIGNMENT #2 (MSWord file) or (PDF file)

For those of you who are not completely familiar with the locations of the various buildings on campus, please see the following link.  Most of the buildings that you are required to look at are in relatively close proximity to Natural Sciences.

UWO campus map

The windowsills in the Biological and Geological (B&G) Sciences Building are best observed in rooms along the hall where the mineral display case are found, particularly in rooms 116 & 122 (classrooms) as well as in Rm. 119 (the outcrop room).  


JAN. 29 LECTURE: Fossils and their preservation

                (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)

A brief explanation of fossils

Fossilization modes and processes

Taphonomy and preservation 1

Taphonomy and preservation2

Siberian Mammoths

Petrified wood: permineralization and replacement

A simple explanation of moulds and casts

Fossilization, fossil classification etc.

Trace fossil nomenclature and classification

JAN. 30 LECTURE: The Devil's Doing: Fossils and Mythology

                (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)

Fossils and Folklore 1

Fossils and Folklore 2

Fossils and Folklore 3

Fossils and Folklore 4

An interesting book on the subject


The Griffin in Heraldry and other symbolic imagery

Griffins and dinosaurs

Protoceratops, Oviraptor and the Griffin Myth

The habitat of Protoceratops and Oviraptor

Placer deposits

Specific gravity of gold and placer gold prospecting

Myths associated with cephalopod fossils

Short Practical Assignment #3: Paleontology and Culture
FEB. 1
PRE-ASSIGNMENT PRESENTATION (Powerpoint Presentation) or (PDF file)
               ASSIGNMENT #3 (MSWord file) or (PDF file)

For those of you who are still not aware:  All assignments must be submitted as hard copies in the drop box outside B&G Rm 118 by 4 pm on the due date.  This means that assignments handed in during Thursday lectures (5:30-6:30 pm) will normally be considered one day late.  This policy is clearly established in the course outline and is expected to be adhered to precisely. 


Short Written Assignment: Our Perceptions of Geological Time (Due March 8, 2007)

ASSIGNMENT (MSWord file) or (PDF file)

FEB. 5 LECTURE:  An Introduction to Geological Time
                (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)

FEB. 6 LECTURE:  Earth's Changing Face: the basics of plate tectonics.

                (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)

Plate Tectonic Mechanisms

Alfred Wegener 1

Alfred Wegener 2

Magnetic Reversals and Seafloor Spreading

Convergent plate boundaries, associated features and processes

Mountain Building (Orogeny)

Plate Tectonics and the Supercontinent Cycle

J. Tuzo Wilson

Short Practical Assignment #4: Working in Three Dimensions
FEB. 8
PRE-ASSIGNMENT PRESENTATION (Powerpoint Presentation) or (PDF file)
               ASSIGNMENT #4 (MSWord file) or (PDF file)

The midterm on Monday Feb. 19 will cover all lecture material up to this point (end of Week 5).  You are also responsible for concepts and fundamental information relating to assignments 1-4 (this means the introductory lectures and the written prelude to the assignments.  We will not expect you to know the mineral formulae as in #1, the distribution of rocks in campus buildings as in #2, nor will we expect you to draw a cross section as in #4, though the latter may be asked of you on the final exam). The midterm will involve the following question formats: 1) Multiple choice, 2) Short answer (e.g. fill in the blank), and 3) Short essay-type questions.  In the latter case you will have some flexibility (i.e. choice) in selecting the topics you write about.
The midterm will be
held in Natural Sciences Rm. 1, during the lecture period (5:30-6:30).  50 minutes will be available for you to complete the test.  You should allot your time for each question on the basis of its indicated value (# of points), concentrating the majority of your time on answering the questions with the greatest value.  Remember, if you are not sure of the answer to a question (especially one of low value), move on to something else and come back to it later.
Good Luck to All !!


FEB. 12 LECTURE:  Mother Nature's Chisel: Processes of weathering and erosion
                (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)

FEB. 13 LECTURE:  Stolen Land: Famous erosional landforms

                (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)


FEB. 20 LECTURE:  Clay: From weathering product to art medium
                (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)

FEB. 22 LECTURE:  Rivers: The geological and cultural significance of rivers 1
               (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)


MAR. 5  Due to poor weather conditions, the lecture today is cancelled. 

The deadline for the short written assignment is officially extended to Monday March 12 at 4 pm.  Several students have experienced difficulty in obtaining useful printed reference material in the library, particularly books.   For this reason, students are asked to return all reference materials of relevance to this assignment to the library as soon as possible.

During the lecture period on Thursday (March 8), a video entitled "Egypt: Quest for Eternity" will be shown.  As this will obviously not be posted on the website, all students are strongly encouraged to attend.

MAR. 6 Today's lecture is also cancelled.  Your instructor is still stranded out of town!

MAR. 8 As indicated, during the lecture period today, a video will be shown which highlights many interactions between the geological and cultural environments of Egypt from ancient to modern times.  Please come prepared to take notes.

OK!  I've received enough e-mails from students  about the short written assignment over the weekend to realize that too many of you are still having problems with this.  For this reason, I am extending the deadline (once again) to this Thursday (March 15) at 4 pm.  I'm not really sure where the main difficulty lies, short of the perception of many students that they need to get their hands on books in the library that deal specifically with one, or a few, of the individuals and concepts in question.  I have indicated that web references are acceptable for this assignment.  "Web references" mean websites (authored or unauthored-usually most are the latter) on the subject of interest.  It does not refer to any references you might obtain by searching JSTOR or other similar databases.  These are electronicized collections of periodical articles which were originally provided in print form, and therefore qualify as print resources.  Some of you have told me that you were looking for material for this assignment in scientific journals such as the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences.  Scientific journals are not the place to look for this information, being as they are vehicles for publishing new data and concepts.  Though you might find something that is broadly relevant, it is not likely that anything in such publications will be of great use to you.  I did suggest, however, that you look for articles in scientific magazines (e.g. Natural History, Scientific American).  General text books on geology might also provide some useful information.  Otherwise, the majority of this assignment can be completed by using websites.  
The extension to Thursday is the absolute last one that will be authorized, so please make every effort to get the assignment completed by that time.  Do not expect that the extra time will allow you to acquire the books you are seeking.  You must do the best you can with whatever is immediately available.  

If you have finished the assignment, you may submit it before the deadline, however, it might be wise to take the extra time to check things over (particularly your reference citations- make sure everything that is not your idea is properly cited) if you haven't already done so.  If you continue to have problems, please make the instructor aware of them as soon as possible.

I have also decided to extend the term paper deadline to March 30 at 4 pm as more time is needed for the instructor and TAs to evaluate topic proposals.  If you don't hear from the instructor by the end of this week (Friday March 16), you may assume that your topic has been approved.  


MAR. 12 LECTURE:  Minerals and Paint: The use of minerals as pigments
                (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)

MAR. 13 LECTURE:  The Geology of Ancient Monuments: When human hands meet stone
                (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)

MAR. 15 LECTURE:  Metal Madness: The geology of metallic mineral deposits
                (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)


MAR. 19 SPECIAL LECTURE:  Instructions for completing the ES089g term paper

               (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)

MAR. 20 LECTURE:  Heavy Metal Thunder: Early history of metal use in human culture
                (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)

MAR. 22 LECTURE:  Coal and Petroleum: Fuel, Fad and Fashion
                (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)

Since it appears unlikely that the proposals will be available for return on Tuesday (these will be returned one way or another at the lecture on Thursday March 29th) and for other reasons, I have decided to extend the deadline for the term paper to Monday April 2 at 4 pm.  This date is final and no further extensions will be considered.  

If you want to see your proposal before Thursday, please come to the instructor's office following the Monday or Tuesday lectures or make alternate arrangements (via e-mail).  If, for some reason, you wish to change your topic please consult the instructor first.

A NOTE ABOUT PROPOSALS:  If you haven't heard from the instructor about problems with your term paper topic or approach, please continue with your research and the writing of the paper itself.  Generally speaking, as long as the information presented in the proposal was reasonable and correct, very few content-related comments were made.  Consequently, it is unlikely that the returned proposals will help you considerably with the content of your term papers.  Decisions concerning the latter are ultimately the student's.  

A NOTE ABOUT THE TERM PAPERS:  Obviously, for the term paper, a different approach is required than was used for the proposals.  Since we are modelling this paper after an article in a scientific journal (to some extent), you should write it in a similar manner (see some online examples below).  In scientific writing of this sort, the emphasis is always on substantiating claims through the presentation of data/information in the most economical fashion possible.  Consequently, whether you have a thesis or not, you have to logically and efficiently build up you case and present data that supports (directly or indirectly) whatever view you are trying to put forth.  "Economical" means you should leave out  information that doesn't contribute to the picture in any meaningful way.     

As such, you will have three major goals in writing the term paper (as per my directions of March 19): 1) Effectively introduce your topic and show how it is significant within a larger (geological or cultural) context; also develop a logical foundation for your theme/thesis.  2) Present information and interpretations which support your theme or thesis--you may also present information to the contrary (be balanced to some extent), but this should not outweigh information in favour of your position (make sure you do this in some detail--papers which cover a large number of subtopics lightly are generally not very insightful and usually, little can be learned by reading them; as such make sure that the information you present is not just a collection of "facts" but instead is a reasonably robust synthesis of the available data which improves the comprehensibility of your topic or related issues for the general public), and 3) develop some reasonable and significant conclusions as suggested by your "data" and interpretation.  Here you should clarify your position on the various subtopics if you have presented a number of alternate explanations, and the reasons for your support of this position.  

It is fine to interject your opinion in the paper (especially in the conclusions--of course this must be based on your evalution of the data available) however, generally, you should confine your discourse to the presentation and interpretation (usually that of reference authors) of the relevant information.  Extensive use of the first person in these communications is usually not proper or desirable.  

Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences sample volume (please use papers here as models for reference formatting and writing style): CJES Sample Issue


MAR. 26 LECTURE:  Nacre:the natural beauty of mother of pearl

               (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)

             (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)

MARKING KEY (MSWord file) or (PDF file)

It is highly recommended that all students come to the lecture on Thursday (March 29th) to pick up their midterms, topic proposals and any of the first four assignments that they may not already have.  These will not be available at the lectures again until the final week of classes.

             (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)

MARKING KEY (MSWord file) or (PDF file)

Remember that the evaluation of your topic proposal was not related to your topic.   If you did poorly on the proposal, it means you either failed to include enough content, or did not follow the formatting instructions properly (most of the marks [13/20] were for format).  Consequently you must ensure that you format your term paper exactly as prescribed and ensure that you include enough content to adequately cover your topic and support any general statements (themes) or arguments (theses) that you have decided to make.


APR. 2 LECTURE:  Pearls: irritants, iridescence and industry

             (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)

APR. 3,5 LECTURE:  The Dinosaur: Dragon or Doofus?
             (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)


APR. 10 LECTURE:  Volcanoes, Frankenstein, and The Scream  
            (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)

Please come to the final lecture on Thursday to pick up any assignments (1-4, topic proposals) or midterms which are not in your possession.  Your short written assignments are not quite ready to be returned, but will be available next week (watch the website for details concerning when and where).  I am planning to set up a few drop-in review sessions before the final exam starting next week, time and location to be announced.  Individuals or small groups of students can arrange a time to meet with me in my office at any time.  Larger group meetings may also be arranged, but will require a bit more time to set up.

I do not expect that your term papers will be available for pickup until the final exam.  

I have made a decision regarding the upgraded midterm test marks:  In addition to eliminating either Parts 1&2 or Part 3 from the evaluation (poorest performance out of 20 marks total eliminated), I have decided to raise the marks uniformly from the base percentage (recalculated using 50 mark total) by 20%.  This means a 50% base mark will translate into a 70% overall mark on the test.  If your base percentage was 80% or above, you now have an overall mark of 100% on the midterm.  This seems to be the fairest and most transparent way of upgrading your marks, and produces a more acceptable average of ~64%.

If you want to verify your recorded marks on the midterm or any assignments, you must contact the instructor and arrange for a meeting.  Regrettably, display of grades will not otherwise be possible.

APR. 12  Details of the Final Exam
            (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)

Please note that there will be no cross section on the final exam (this was previously suggested as a possibility).

The content of the short written assignment  will not be tested as such, though there are some obvious overlaps with the lecture on geological time.

As for the midterm
(see above), some aspects of the content of the first four assignments are still fair game.

You should study the content of the latter (post-midterm) portion of the course in the greatest detail.  Make sure you also study well any earlier course content which is significantly related to topics in the latter half of the course.
Once again, the exam is cumulative, so almost anything covered in the lectures could appear there.

LECTURE FOR YOUR INTEREST ONLY:  Odd Earth Objects: Unusual sights and sounds of Earth

            (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)

I started this lecture, but did not have time to finish it.  It is included here for your interest (i.e. none of the content will be tested).

SPECIAL LECTURE:  Modern Doomsday Scenarios: Global catastrophe at the movies.
            (Powerpoint presentation) or (PDF file)

As indicated, one of the 12 short-essay type questions on the final exam will concern content in this lecture.  This is an entirely optional lecture, and as such, the onus for learning the content is entirely on the student.

The study guide will appear here soon.  It will be best used as a checklist to ensure that you have covered all of the necessary information, but will not narrow down the content required to be studied to any significant degree.  Consequently, there is no need to delay your review until it is available.

No drop-in review sessions will be held this week, but I will be arranging something for early next week (probably Tuesday and Wednesday).  Please let me know if there are any preferred times for this.  Please bring your notes and questions with you. Projection facilities will most likely not be available.   

There will be a drop-in review session on Tuesday (April 24th) between 4 and 6 pm and also one on Wednesday (April 25th) at the same time.  These will be held in Biological and Geological Sciences Building Rm 118 (the large teaching lab next to the drop box for this course).

Short written assignments will be returned during these times, so please come and pick up your assignments even if you don't wish to ask questions.  These assignments will also be available later in the week from the TAs.  Details of times and locations for pick up will be provided on this webpage.

STUDY GUIDE (MSWord file) or (PDF file)


Please note that the total for this assignment is 150 (not 160).