Winter 2025 - Earth Science Courses

EarthSci 1022B: Earth Rocks!

Instructor: Cam Tsujita 

What our planet is made of, how it works, and how it affects us. Framed on the interactions of the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere. Specific topics include: geological time and earth history; formation of rocks and minerals; rock deformation; volcanoes and earthquakes; plate tectonics and mountain building; natural resources. 

Antirequisite(s):  Earth Sciences 1070A/B, Earth Sciences 1081A/B.

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EarthSci 1023B: Planet Earth: Shaken & Stirred

Instructor: Rick Secco BGS 0178

An overview of the origin and development of Earth and solar system; constitution and active processes of Earth interior; how these processes have shaped Earth evolution in the past and how they continue to control surface phenomena such as earthquake and volcanic activity. Labs will introduce the main resource exploration techniques. 

Antirequisite(s): Earth Sciences 2123F/G.

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EarthSci 1086G: Origin and Geology of the Solar System

Our best perception of the origin of the Universe, the Milky Way Galaxy, and our Solar System, meteorites, asteroids, comets and the formation of planets. The slow growth of Planetary Science reason and analysis of hypotheses. Why and how Earth evolved along a path radically different than the other planets.
Extra Information: The equivalent of 3 lecture hours per week. Offered only online (see Western Distance Studies).
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EarthSci 1089G: Earth, Art & Culture

Instructor: Cam Tsujita BGS 1064

An examination of Earth materials used over the history of human culture. Topics include: Earth materials as media in the Visual Arts (pigments, stone and clay); rocks, minerals and fossils as motifs in famous works of art; landscape photography; gemstones and jewelery; earth materials in wine and cuisine, and modern technology. 

 Course Outline

EarthSci 2123G: Dynamic Earth

Instructor: Rick Secco BGS 0178

An introduction to the Earth as a large heat engine; topics will focus on large scale dynamic processes that occur in the deep interior (mantle and core convection) and their relation to activity and phenomena on the face of the Earth (tectonic plate motions, plate interactions, earth magnetic field, etc.). 

Antirequisite(s): Earth Sciences 1023A/B

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EarthSci 2201B: Structural Geology


Deformation of Earth's crust; description of geological structures; construction and interpretation of geologic maps, cross sections and block diagrams; stereographic and orthographic representation of structural data; mechanical behavior of rocks; origin and tectonic significance of geological structures. 

Prerequisite(s): Earth Sciences 2200A/B.

Note: Grade 12 Physics or 0.5 course in first year Physics is recommended before taking this course.

 Course Outline

EarthSci 2220B: Environmental & Exploration Geophysics I

Instructor: Robert Shcherbakov BGS 1080

A brief introduction to applied seismology – the investigation of Earth structure using sound waves in rocks. Topics include: seismic reflection methods, a cornerstone of oil and gas exploration; seismic refraction methods; earthquake seismology. This lab-oriented course will provide hands-on experience with computers and analysis of large digital data sets. 

Prerequisite(s): 0.5 course from Calculus 1000A/B, the former Calculus 1100A/B, or Calculus 1500A/B, Mathematics 1225A/B.

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Course Description: An introduction to data analysis, digital signal processing, machine learning and visualization techniques. Topics include: statistical methods to characterize uni- to multi-variate data, spatial data, time series and Fourier analyses, digital signal processing and filtering, data analytics and machine learning applications. Geophysics and environmental science applications will be emphasized. 

Prerequisite(s): 0.5 course from Calculus 1000A/B, Calculus 1500A/B, Mathematics 1225A/B, Numerical and Mathematical Methods 1412A/B, the former Applied Mathematics 1412A/B, the former Applied Mathematics 1413.

Antirequisite(s): Computer Science 2034A/B, Computer Science 2035A/B. 

 Course Outline

EarthSci 2230B: Introduction to Geochemistry

Instructor: Sean Shieh BGS 1066

Effects of temperature, pressure and bulk composition on stabilities of minerals in natural geological settings are evaluated using thermodynamic principles. Reaction rates among minerals and fluids, including the effects of natural catalysts and inhibitors, and biotic mediation are addressed. Introduction to the principles of radioisotope and stable isotope geochemistry. 

Prerequisite(s):  Chemistry 1301A/B or the former Chemistry 1100A/B, and Earth Sciences 2200A/B or permission of the Department.

 Course Outline: 2230

EarthSci 2232G: Exploring the Planets


An introduction to planetary science and the exciting frontier of space exploration; emphasis is placed on the processes shaping the planets and moons of the Solar System and how this relates to the evolution of Earth, the Solar System, and life; attention paid to current results from planetary exploration missions.

Antirequisite(s): Astronomy 2201A/B, Astronomy 2232F/G, the former Planetary Science 3380A/B, and the former Earth Sciences 2001F/G.

 Course Outline

EarthSci 2240G: Catastrophic Events in Earth History

Instructor: Sean Shieh BGS 1066

Rare events so catastrophic that they leave evidence in the geologic record and threaten life on Earth. Included are impacts by asteroids and comets, eruptions from giant resurgent volcanic calderas, large to mega-earthquakes and associated tsunami, and dramatic reduction of atmospheric oxygen by release of reservoirs of methane hydrate.

Antirequisite(s):  Earth Sciences 2241A/B.
Prerequisite(s): Completion of first year requirements.

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EarthSci 2266G: Dinosaur and Other Vertebrate Evolution

Instructor: Jisuo Jin BGS 1064

Introduction to the fossil record that documents the major steps in vertebrate evolution, including the origin and radiation of fishes, amphibians, mammal-like reptiles, dinosaurs, birds, and mammals.

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EarthSci 2281B: Geology for Engineers

Instructor: Robert Schincariol BGS 0176

Introduction to physical geology with emphasis on the engineering oriented aspects of the Earth Sciences. Topics include: minerals and rocks; mass movements; interpretation of aerial photographs, topographic and geologic maps; surficial processes and their manifestations; surface and ground water; structural geology and subsurface processes; and earth resources. 

Antirequisite(s):  Earth Sciences 1022A/B, Earth Sciences 1023A/B, Earth Sciences 1070A/B, Earth Sciences 1081A/B, Earth Sciences 2123A/B.
Prerequisite(s): Registration in second, third, or fourth year Civil and Environmental Engineering; or permission of the Department.

 Course Outline: 2281

EarthSci 3001B: Astrobiology

Instructor: Catherine Neish 

The study of life in the universe, including the origin of life on Earth, the possibility of life elsewhere in the solar system/universe, and the future of human life off-Earth. This course will include topics that draw from biology, physics, astronomy, geology, chemistry, and other areas.

Prerequisite(s): 1.0 course(s) from any of Chemistry, Biology, or Physics at the 1000 level.

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Instructor: Roberta Flemming

This course reviews the origin and evolution of our solar system and formation of the rocky planets and other bodies by examining dynamical evidence and meteorites. We examine meteorite mineralogy and textures using optical microscopy, X-ray diffraction and geochemical data. We also examine Earth impacts, the moon and Mars. 

Prerequisite(s): Earth Sciences 2200A/B, Earth Sciences 2206A/B. Corequisite(s): Earth Sciences 2230A/B or enrolment in a Planetary Science module with permission from department.

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EarthSci 3314B: Sedimentary Petrology

Instructor: Patricia Corcoran 

Identification and description of various types of siliciclastic and carbonate rocks; the important characteristics of sedimentary rocks and their key sedimentary features for interpretation of present and ancient despositional environments; survey of diagenetic processes that alter original properties of primary sediments. 

Prerequisite(s): Earth Sciences 2200A/BEarth Sciences 2206A/B.

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Instructor: Elizabeth Webb

Acquisition of solutes by rain, surface and subsurface waters and their transportation and deposition in natural environments (e.g., formation of ore deposits). Natural sources of potential pollutants (e.g., heavy metals). Geochemical cycles of solutes and waters. 

Prerequisite(s): Earth Sciences 2230A/B or Chemistry 1301A/B or permission of the Department.

 Course Outline

EarthSci 3369B: Geomicrobiology

Instructor: Jeremiah Shuster
A study of geomicrobiological processes recorded in the Earth record and bacteria interactions in contemporary systems, including methods for the analysis of prokaryotes. The factors affecting their community structure and function, and their relationship to geochemistry. In the laboratory, students will develop bacteriological culture techniques used in geomicrobiological research.
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Instructor: Sean Shieh

Introduction to elementary solid state theory, high pressure geophysics, phase transformations, elasticity, physical properties and mineral physics of the Earth's mantle and core. 

Prerequisite(s): Earth Sciences 2206A/B or permission of the Department.

 Course Outline: 4424



The principles of metal concentration and deposition in magmatic and hydrothermal environments are examined. Natural and experimental data, including fluid inclusion, stable isotope, metal solubility, mineral stability, and metal partition behavior, are used to develop genetic models for ore deposits. Such models form the basis of mineral exploration strategies.

Prerequisite(s): Earth Sciences 2230A/B and Earth Sciences 3370A/B

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EarthSci 4490E: Senior Thesis

Instructor: Patricia Corcoran 

A presentation of research on a chosen problem. Original data must be generated from field or laboratory studies and analyzed using appropriate methodologies. The results must be integrated into the existing literature on the topic. Independence in the conduct and reporting of research must be demonstrated. 

Prerequisite(s):  Registration in year 4 of a Specialization, Honors Specialization or Professional Program offered by the Department of Earth Sciences, or permission of the Department.

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EarthSci 4606B: Remote Sensing for Earth Sciences

Instructor: Catherine Neish 
Introduction to the technical and conceptual basis for applying remote sensing and image analysis to Earth and planetary science. Hands on experience in computer processing of remote sensing data from diverse terrestrial and planetary data sets.

 Course Outline



A presentation of research on a chosen problem. Original data must be generated from field or laboratory studies and analyzed using appropriate methodologies. The results must be integrated into the existing literature on the topic. Independence in the conduct and reporting of research must be demonstrated. 

Prerequisite(s): Registration in year 4 of a Specialization or Honours Specialization offered by the Department of Earth Sciences, or permission of the Department.

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