Unit 1: Earth Systems, Natural Climate Change and Glaciation

Environmental Geology is divided into five units, and each unit is based on some of the chapters in the open textbook “Environmental Geology”. For those of you taking the course for credit, each unit also has an associated assignment. You can start working on the assignment as you are going through each unit, the textbook readings, exercises and chapter-end questions, or you can wait until you are finished the readings and other activities.

Topics of Unit 1

  • Earth Systems science.
  • Natural controls over the climate, and past changes in Earth’s climate.
  • Glaciations and their erosional and depositional impacts on our environment.

Learning Activities

  • Read Course Unit 1 and complete embedded activities.
  • Read Chapters 1, 3, and 4 in the Environmental Geology textbook and complete embedded exercises.
    Note: Chapter 2 of the textbook includes a review of some relevant aspects of geology. If you haven’t recently completed an introductory course in Physical Geology (which might also have been called something like “Introduction to Earth Science”) you should probably read that chapter as well.
  • Answer chapter-end questions for textbook Chapters 1, 3 and 4.

Learning Assessment

Complete Assignment 1 (in the Assessments Overview tab in Moodle) and submit for marking to your Open Learning Faculty Member. The assignment is worth 12% of your final mark.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  • Describe aspects of the Earth system.
  • Explain the mechanisms for the natural controls over the Earth’s climate.
  • Discuss glacial processes in general, the erosional effects of alpine glaciation, and the deposits of glaciation.
A note on figure and table numbering: These course units include references to figures and tables in the textbook, and also to figures and tables in this document. The textbook references are always of the form “Figure 1.2.1” where the first number refers to the chapter in the textbook, the second to the section of that chapter, and the third to the figure number in that section. The Course Units references are of the form Figure 1-1, where the first number is the unit number, and the second is the figure number in that unit. Sections, figures and tables in the textbook all have “dot” separators. Sections, figures and tables in this document all have “dash” separators.


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