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Surface Processes

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Earth's surface is the critical interface at which the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere interact. It is shaped by a combination of physical, chemical, and biological processes. In EPS, we study the processes that not only shape Earth's landscapes but also those of other planetary bodies like Mars. 

Earth Processes Faculty:

Classes in Earth Processes:

EPS 3: Earth and Planetary Processes and Mechanics (EPS 217): This course will introduce you to the applications of solid- and fluid mechanics to understanding the workings of earth and planetary systems. We will explore the use of mass and momentum conservation, as well as rheological / constitutive equations to understand diverse phenomena, ranging from the mass balance of the hydrosphere, the transit of tsunamis across Earth's ocean basins, the flexing of Earth's crust under the weight of mountains and island chains, the transport and disaggregation of rock as it is transported in rivers, the motion of planets, radiative transfer and planetary equilibrium temperature, and the physical causes of global warming.

EPS 42: Moving and Shaking in the Bay Area: Active faulting and erosion in the Bay Area, and its effects upon landscapes. Earth science concepts and skills through investigation of the valley, mountain, and coastal areas around Stanford. Faulting associated with the San Andreas Fault, coastal processes along the San Mateo coast, uplift of the mountains by plate tectonic processes, and landsliding in urban and mountainous areas. Field excursions; student projects.

EPS 212: Topics in Tectonic Geomorphology: For upper-division undergraduates and graduate students. Topics vary and may include coupling among erosional, tectonic, and chemical weathering processes at the scale of orogens; historical review of tectonic geomorphology; hillslope and fluvial process response to active uplift; measures of landscape form and their relationship to tectonic uplift and bedrock lithology.

EPS 224: Rivers: The Arteries of Earth's Continents: Rivers are the arteries of Earth's continents, conveying water, sediments, and solutes from the headwaters to the oceans. They provide a haven for life and have been at the heart of the world's economy by generating fertile floodplains, human habitats, as well as by facilitating international commerce. This course offers a quantitative examination of rivers, from headwaters to deltas. We will first develop a basic mechanistic understanding of fluvial processes, including flow hydraulics, erosion, sediment transport, and deposition. We will then apply our acquired knowledge through thematic discussions of relevant issues. Possible themes include deltas and climate change, rivers and human activity (damming, sand mining, deforestation), rivers and the evolution of land plants, rivers and biogeochemical cycles, submarine channels, and the alien rivers of Mars and Titan.

EPS 120: Planetary Surface Processes: Shaping the Landscape of the Solar System (EPS 220): The surfaces of planets, moons, and other bodies are shaped and modified by a wide array of physical and chemical processes. Understanding these processes allows us to decipher the history of the Solar System. This course offers a quantitative examination of both exogenous processes - such as impact cratering and space weathering - and endogenous processes - such as tectonics, weathering, and volcanic, fluvial, eolian, and periglacial activity - as well as a brief introduction to the fundamentals of remote sensing in the context of planetary exploration. As we develop a basic mechanistic framework for these processes, we will apply our acquired knowledge through thematic discussions of the surfaces of Mercury, Venus, Earth, the Moon, Mars, asteroids, Io, Titan, Europa, Enceladus, Pluto, and comets.

EPS 284: Rates and Dates of Geomorphic Processes: Advances in dating methods have revolutionized scientists' understanding of how the Earth's surface has changed over time. This course is designed to give graduate students an understanding of the science behind numerical dating techniques in geomorphology and environmental science contexts.

EPS 262: Life and Landscape Linkages Seminar: Each week, we will cover a topic of interest to geoscientists by reading and discussing papers related to the dynamic interaction of life and landscape.