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Continuing Education

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Continuing Education

Evolving Earth: An Introduction to Geology

Evolving Earth: An Introduction to Geology

Wednesdays, October 18th to December 6th, 2017, 7:00 - 9:00 pm.

Location: Traill College, Wallis Hall 226

Cost: $20 per class (+ HST).

Register online at https://www.regonline.com/evolvingearthanintroductiontogeology or in person with cash or cheque at Scott House Room 102.4, 300 London Street, Traill College

This is a general interest introduction to the history of the earth and the sequences of events which led to the creation and development of life in its early stages. Because of the enormous range of topics which are relevant to this story, there will be adjustments to the course content as we go along-according to the interest level of the students. Topics emphasized include climate change, sea level change, continental drift, development of life, and mass extinctions of life. There will be short audio-visual presentations in most of the classes. A general understanding of the cyclical nature of evolution and environmental conditions will allow the student a better understanding of what the future of life on Planet Earth might look like.

Print and audio-visual material will be provided from the following reference materials:

-Levin, Harold., The Earth Through Time Wiley Press, 2009.

-Babcock, Loren., Visualizing Earth History  Wiley/National Geographic Society, 2008

-BBC “Nature” Series documentaries

-Discovery.org  documentaries

-Deep Time Map Series by Blakey, Ron, Smithsonian.com

Wednesday 18 October - Geological Time Scale                 

In this lesson we will examine and discuss the geological time scale, the concepts of relative vs. absolute time, methods of age dating rocks, the principles of uniformitarianism, superposition, and fossil succession and their role in relative age dating. Presentation of David Attenborough’s award winning documentary “First Life”

Wednesday 25 October - Internal Structure of the Earth

Discussion of the internal zones and their relative densities, the plasticity of rocks, the principle of the floating crust, the two kinds of crust and their relative densities. The use of seismic waves in determining relative density.

Wednesday 1 November - The Role of Convection in the Creation of Continents   

Definition and demonstration of heat induced convection currents. Discuss the differentiation/separation of magmas into density layers based on chemical composition. How do these processes influence the movement of continents?  

Wednesday 8 November - Fluctuations in Sea Level  

The class will examine and discuss a chart which shows relative and absolute sea level change throughout geological time. These level changes will be compared to the ice ages in order to demonstrate the interconnectedness of all environmental fluctuations- temperature, volcanic activity, planetary rotation rate etc.

Wednesday 15 November - Fluctuations in the Atmosphere

The class will discuss the changes in proportion of the major gases which make up the atmosphere. The first protoatmosphere, high concentration of carbon dioxide in the Hadean and early Archean Eons. Discussion of the factors which caused the enrichment of oxygen during the late Archean Eon. Discuss the implications of this change on the early development of life.

Wednesday 22 November - Plate Tectonics/Continental Drift 

Review of convection currents as the engine for plate tectonics. Presentation of time lapse video of “Deep Time Maps”  by Ron Blakey (Smithsonian Institute). Discuss methods of relating similar fossil species from different continents as evidence of continental drift. Also demonstrate the way the continental margins fit together like a puzzle. Discuss subduction zones, oceanic ridges (Mid-Atlantic) and deep trenches, island arcs, the modern ring of fire.

Wednesday 29 November - The Role of Extraterrestrial Events in Mass Extinction

Discussion of the evidence behind the theory of large (greater than 10 km. diameter) asteroid impacts as the cause of mass extinctions related to “impact winters”. World wide sedimentary marker horizons containing massively elevated levels of iridium. Show how these events are co-incident in time with major extinction events. Presentation of maps showing the number,size, age, and location of major impact craters on the earth.

Wednesday 6 December - Periods of Explosive Development of Life Forms   

The “Cambrian Explosion” of life forms will be examined in detail. Topics related to this event include explanation of the development of environmental conditions favourable for the occurrence of this event, examples of new complex life forms - new body types, the first predators, common examples eg. trilobites, early molluscs, sponges. Location of Cambrian fossil beds - Mistaken Point, Newfoundland, Ediacara Hills, Australia, Burgess Shale, Rocky Mountains, Canada.  


About the instructor:

Rand Hodgson is a geologist, teacher, and commercial pilot. He has 35 years experience in the mineral exploration business-mapping paleo-volcanic rocks across Canada in search of mineral deposits. Graduated from the University of Waterloo (B.Sc Earth Science) and UBC (B.Ed). he has previously taught similar course content at Sir Sandford Fleming College and the Vancouver School Board. Currently semi-retired and acting as senior consulting geologist for Whitefish Exploration Ltd. a company active in gold exploration in the Red Lake and Geraldton Greenstone belts- Northern Ontario. Interests include outdoor education, prospecting for minerals, map making and navigation.

Online registration is provided through RegOnline, a third-party registration service. An additional charge will be applied by RegOnline in addition to the course fee.

Avoid additional charges by registering in person with cash or a cheque.