Department of Earth Science          Northeastern Illinois University

INTRODUCTION to EARTH SCIENCE                                                           J. Hemzacek homepage 
ESCI 121
          Spring 2010                                                                        questions?  send me an email

 WELCOME to our course webpage!

Current links:  Homework #11  due Wednesday 28 April
Additional class resources:
-- review list for Lab Quiz 2
         -- review list for final exam (finalized)

         -- to complete the current lab (weather forecast):
               resources are posted in Blackboard          
         -- for class topics:   weather and climate
                weathering, rocks

                    sedimentary environments

         -- Student Center for Science Engagement
                (in case you didn't get one of the fliers)

General course resources

this semester:

 NEIU Earth Science students doing research:

  Interested in what we're doing? 
    Check out our "Muddy Waters" research project!


stream disch

fluvial systems


many documents are in .pdf form;     
if you do not have Adobe(R) Reader(R),     
click here to download.

minerals and uses:     
Mineral Information Institute       National Mining Association   
metamorphic rocks: geology   
Tulane Univ Petrology - some parts are rather advanced, but some helpful information

cloud types                 U of I Meteorology pages           adiabatic cooling and clouds               dew point
          thunderstorms & tornadoes                       tornadoes & tornado safety guide           cyclones/ anticyclones

                        formation of tornadoes                             severe storms module

Online resources for weathering, etc.:

         weathering animation        weathering & geologic environments **            rocks and the rock cycle
                    - be sure to follow the links within each section: for example, under sedimentary rocks,
                       following link to "clastic sediments" takes you to weathering

         rocks & minerals


Follow-up to class on 1 Feb:
Click on this link:
and then view the video titled "When the Bay Area Quakes"  (about 20 minutes long)

At the bottom of the "question" section of your "Earthquake" page (the one that you started in class), add the title "video"; while watching the video, add questions to this section that you have as a result of viewing the video.
On the "Facts" side of the page, enter information either that (1) answers some of your questions from today's class, OR
(2) are simply pieces of information that you find particularly interesting.  ;o)

Bring this sheet to class with you on Wednesday!!



10 February 2010:  Northern Illinois earthquake

USGS website info:

earthquake map:

fault systems in Illinois


HAITI     12 Jan 2010


3. Why did a quake hit Haiti-

USGS earthquake website



(c) 2010 J Hemzacek Laukant
Last updated  27 January  2010


       scroll down for earlier announcements/ assignments
HW #11: The Big Picture - Connected Earth Processes    due Wed 28 April
In previous homework and in class, we have put together pieces of the "big picture" of earth science concepts. 
We have not completely finished this.... so, for this last homework, you will make a small version of your own "big picture" concept map, linking important geologic processes to features that we see or experience at the earth's surface.  Include key terms and brief explanations, with labeled arrows to indicate relationships between different concepts.   At this scale, you will *not* be able to include "everything I know about the earth", but it should still represent an integrated view of different concepts, and should include some level of detail about at least one major concept, as described below:
-- Each of the following concepts must be represented: (note that "represented" does not require a lot of detail!)
earth structure; tectonics; weather; streams / stream processes; rocks / earth materials

-- At least one of the major concepts listed above must contain a higher degree of detail (that is, include key terms/ processes/ relationships between specific aspects, etc.).  For this "detailed" requirement, you might choose to focus on as aspect that you find most interesting, OR perhaps the aspect that you feel the greatest need to review for our final exam!
-- Your concept map may consist of (a) sketch(es), appropriately labeled; or it may be mostly words -- but remember the key thing about a concept map is that you must link the concepts (including each of the major concepts listed), indicating the relationship(s) to each other.
CRITERIA:  Use a single, 8-1/2 x 11 sheet of paper (lined or unlined); this assignment can (and probably should!) be hand-drawn, but must be legible!!!  Because we are right at the end of the session, I will not be spending much time trying to interpret any difficult-to-read assignments.... you will simply lose points if I cannot read it. 
Your concept map can be done in either "portrait" or "landscape" orientation, but  your name, "ESCI 121 - section xx" and the date should be in the upper right corner when the sheet is held in "portrait" orientation.
Suggestion: you may want to make a copy of this concept map for your own use when reviewing for the final exam!  And remember to check the syllabus/ class schedule for the time of our final exam!
HW #10: Flooding, Weather, and more..       due Wed 21 April

Answer the following questions, using numbers as provided:

1.  Briefly explain the meaning and significance of each of the following terms in your own words:
     a)  recurrence interval               b) floodplain                      c) natural levee
2.  An area is designated as a "100-year floodplain"; explain what this means about the area.
3.  Relating flooding to weather, climate, and the "big picture":
     a) What is the difference between weather and climate?
     b) Think of (and describe) an example of flooding that would be related to climate.
     c) Think of an example of flooding that would be related to weather; describe how this example is related to weather rather than climate.
     d) Give an example of flooding that would be related to a tectonic contribution.

HW #9: Streams & Floods     due Wed 14 April

In last week's homework and in class, we began to explore some concepts related to streams -- in particular, related to flow and work done by a stream
(scroll down to refer to details of the last homework as a refresher; you may also want to explore additional, online resources listed below this assignment).

Answer the following in your own words:
1.  Imagine that you follow a stream from its headwaters (where it begins) to its mouth (where it ends), examining various stream characteristics along the way.
Describe the changes that you would expect to see in general along the length of a stream (from head to mouth); include each one of the parameters listed below. 
For each change that you describe, include a very brief explanation as to why that aspect would change in the way it does.  Note that each description-plus-explanation requires no more than a sentence or two!
Include each of these stream parameters:   (a) gradient, (b) velocity, (c) discharge;  (d) channel shape and size; (e) erosion, sediment transport, and deposition. 

2.  Briefly describe the major factors that contribute to flooding along a stream.  Include specific examples of variation in those factors that would either minimize or maximize the chance of flooding.

In addition to reviewing your text chapter, you may want to explore additional resources listed below: 
       USGS site: Rivers and Streams           Rivers and Flooding (from Idaho State Univ)       and explore this interactive module

HW #8: Runoff, Streams, & Watersheds     due Wed 7 April

Chapter 11 of your text covers concepts related to streams and floods
Answer each of the following questions in your own words:
1.  Stream processes (including flooding) are affected by a number of factors.  Below, you will list and briefly describe several of these factors: your answer should include
     a brief description of the concept, and an example of how that factor is related to stream flow (for instance, you might describe how a change in that factor affects
     some aspect of stream flow, or you might describe some reasons or ways that the factor can change, therefore changing how we measure or evaluate stream flow):
     a.  drainage basin (if you are using a different resource, drainage basin is essentially the same as watershed)
     b.  gradient
     c.  discharge
2.  In the first question, you explored several stream parameters related to stream flow.  Now, give a brief summary of how stream flow is related to the work done
      by a stream:  i.e., erosion, transportation, and deposition.  That is, under what circumstances would erosion dominate the stream work (vs. transportation or deposition)?
3.  Review the information in your text about drainage patterns.  Examine this map, which shows several streams in the Chicago area:  be a little patient -- it is a large file!
      If you zoom in on the map and scroll around, you will be able to identify the Skokie River, the North Branch of Chicago River, and the West Fork of the North Branch.
      Briefly hypothesize as to why this region exhibits the drainage pattern that you see here; be sure to explain your reasoning.
HW #7: Sediments, Shorelines, and Sea Levels  due Wed 31 March (after spring break... make sure you don't forget!!)

Before the due date for this homework, we will discuss concepts associated with sea level changes, including:
eustatic vs. relative sea level change; transgression, regression; and effects of isostasy / isostatic adjustment.
You are expected to use the above terms appropriately in this assignment. 

1.  Examine the sequence of rock types found in the Grand Canyon, as listed below.  Construct a brief "story" (include concepts
     listed above when telling your story)
, to describe the sequence of events that is represented by this series of rock types.
2.   With what you already know about the different rock types listed in the Grand Canyon sequence (i.e., limestone, sandstone, shale),
     briefly hypothesize about various types of evidence that might be available in these rocks, that could help to make your story more
     That is, I do not want you to "research" these Grand Canyon rocks, but rather to describe the different types of specific characteristics
 that these particular rock types might have (related to how/ where they formed, etc.)-- and what those characteristics would reveal
     about the history of events in an area. 

Following is a listing of rock layers in the Grand Canyon -- copied from the geological map legend for that area (note that map conventions apply!).  Each rock unit has a "proper name" -- a unique name given to the rock formation, as well as the name of the rock type(s).
  Kaibab Limestone
  Toroweap Formation:   limestone
  Coconino Sandstone
  Hermit Shale
  Supai Formation:  shale intermixed with small amounts of limestone, with a cap of sandstone at the top
  Redwall Limestone
  Muav Limestone
  Bright Angel Shale
  Tapeats Sandstone


HW #6: Weathering, Sediments, and Landscapes
This homework will be submitted via email -- including photos, as described below.  The homework limit of one page applies
only to the text part of this assignment; in other words, the photos can be separate attachments.  The text of the homework may be a document
file attachment (MS Word format, please), OR may be typed into the body of the email.
I will send a confirmation reply when I receive your full assignment.

Start by looking for examples of the effects of weathering, found all around us in the "real world".  Ideally, you would look around the NEIU campus and the near vicinity (i.e., within about 4 blocks in any direction), and use those examples for this assignment.  However, if that is not possible, your examples can be from elsewhere -- but please indicate the location(s).

Take photos of at least 3 examples of weathering.  Make sure that you include at least one example each of physical weathering and chemical weathering.  At least one photo must include you (your face!); each photo should include something that helps to show the scale/size of the item in the photo (for example, you could include yourself in each photo - that would work!  OR you could use a pencil/pen, your hand/foot, etc.). 

You will email the photos to me; in addition, you will answer the following questions (refer to text chapters 7, 9; and also the online reading sources on this topic, which are listed below):
1.   Describe the examples of weathering that you photographed: what type of weathering is illustrated by each photo/ example, and how do you know that it is that type?   (in other words, what characteristics do you observe, to indicate that this is an example of either physical weathering or chemical weathering?)
2.   Describe how weathering and erosion are responsible for the development of topography: what is the difference between weathering and erosion, and what effects do these processes have on the shape of the earth's surface?   
3.   In class, we will talk a bit about the types of geologic environments in which we would expect to find a deposit of sand -- one type of sediment.  After deposition in these environments, the sand is transformed into a sedimentary rock ... but through what process(es)?  That is, refer to the readings, and describe in your own words how sediment becomes rock.  Use appropriate/ proper terms, but also explain what the terms mean, in describing this process (or set of processes).
4.  Besides sand, there are other types of sediments that can be deposited and then transformed into rock.  Referring to your text and/or online resources, what are some other sedimentary rock names, and what geologic environment(s) are indicated by each?  List at least 3 types of sedimentary rocks-- other than sandstone-- and describe the environment of deposition that is indicated. 

  Online resources:         weathering animation        weathering & geologic environments             rocks and the rock cycle
  be sure to follow links within each section: for example, under sedimentary rocks, clicking "clastic sediments" takes you to weathering
                                         rocks & minerals

HW #5:  Plate tectonics and Mountain Building 
Please do yourself a favor!  To maximize homework points, carefully follow the criteria for homework.

1.  Briefly describe the types of tectonic environments and processes that are responsible for mountain-building.  Give examples of world mountain ranges that are associated with the environments and processes you describe.

2.  Briefly discuss the factors that are responsible for different characteristics of various world mountain ranges, specifically including elevation and shape (sharp peaks vs. rounded).   In discussing variation among mountain ranges, include descriptions of specific world mountain ranges as examples.   **Include the following terms/ concepts in your discussion:  isostasy;  erosion rate;  crustal thickness 
... and of course you can include any other key considerations!   (note:  there are a number of useful resources for this question; your text is an excellent one.)


HW #4: Earthquakes and Volcanoes 
Consider your explorations of plate tectonic environments and the characteristics of volcanoes and earthquakes that you have already discovered, as related to those tectonic environments.  Refer to your "compiled expert summary" sheet and notes from class discussions; additional information can be found from other resources (text as well as online; a short list is provided below, including the maps used in lab).

1. Various earth features are connected to, and explained by, the plate tectonic environment in which they occur.  Very briefly tell how this is related to the fact that plate tectonics is a scientific theory (->what does it mean that this concept is a scientific theory?). 
2.  Volcanoes tend to occur in three plate tectonic environments: divergent boundary, convergent boundary, and hot spot. 
    A.  Compare the characteristics of volcanoes in convergent vs. divergent settings, using either a list or a table to summarize the following     aspects of volcanoes in those different settings:
            -- physical form/ shape of volcanoes (steep sides? not steep? other characteristics?),
            -- eruptive style (e.g., explosive, quiet, other?), and
            -- magma composition and behavior
    B. Are volcanoes at hot spots more like those in divergent or convergent settings?  Comment very briefly.
3.  Earthquakes can occur in many different environments (including near Chicago!).  Areas with high earthquake activity, however, tend to be associated with certain tectonic environments.  Which tectonic environments represent concentrations of significant earthquake activity?  Compare the characteristics of earthquakes in those tectonic environments, with respect to depth of focus (shallow, medium, and/or deep) and magnitude (small vs. large).
on-line resources
maps:   tectonic boundaries -- map1  map2;    earthquake depth of focus map     volcano map      hot spot map
volcanoes (types, etc.):  Global Volcanism Program (Smithsonian / USGS)         VolcanoWorld
                                               How Volcanoes Work           USGS volcano hazards program
earthquakes:   USGS earthquake home geologic phenomena, incl. earthquakes, volcanoes

Homework due on Wednesday, 3 Feb:  
For this assignment, you will use information found at the US Geological Survey Earthquake website:

Click here for the assignment details and instructions**. 
This assignment will be submitted in typed (paper) copy; click here to review the set of homework criteria.

the assignment tells you to "refer to the map used in lab", but the link for that map doesn't show up in the document. 
              Click here for that map.

clarification:  Just to make sure that you are starting on the correct page: you should be looking at the information for the *first* Haiti earthquake -- that is, the earthquake that occurred at the earliest time on that date.

follow-up to class on 1 Feb:     details here
21 Jan 2010

Homework due on Wednesday, 27 Jan:
HW2: Earth Systems   Standard homework criteria apply (see the handout!  --> typed!  one page for entire assignment!)
Answer the following, using the question numbers as provided below to identify your responses.
1.  The earth itself is a system.  Explain what that means: that is, what are the characteristics of a system?
2.  Describe the differences between an open system and a closed system, and explain how the earth system compares with these concepts  (is the earth an open system, or a closed system... and why).
3.  We will be exploring earthquakes next!  Refer back to your response to question #1, and explain how the very existence of earthquakes is related to the definition of earth as a system.

4.  Give two additional, specific geological examples (i.e., other than earthquakes, and not biological examples!) that illustrate how the earth has the characteristics of a system; be sure to explain how your examples illustrate the characteristics of earth as a system.

If you already have your textbook, you will find information to help you formulate your responses; if you do not yet have a text, you will find helpful information on the following websites:

Remember, however, that your responses must reflect your own work, and not the words of another resource (including another student!).  Refer to course information regarding plagiarism; in addition, this link from Indiana University explains and gives examples of plagiarism and provides helpful tips on how to avoid it.

11 Jan 2010

Welcome to the course!  I look forward to our time together as we explore fun facts about our home planet.  :o)

Homework assignments will in future be posted on a separate page (with a link at the top of this page), but for now we'll get started here.
      Send me an email from the email address that you most frequently check, as follows:
         --> The subject of the email should be "your name - 121 section xx"
         --> In the body of the email, tell me several things:
                1.  What is one topic/ aspect that you are particularly interested in learning about (in this class!) this semester?
                2.  Think of some experience that you have had-- at any time in your life-- that is related to earth science...
                          (rocks? mountains? natural disaster??  other?): briefly describe it.
                3.  Tell me one interesting thing about yourself (a hobby? special talent? someplace interesting that
                           you have traveled?  that you want to be an Earth Science major ?!?)  ;o)
          I must receive your emailed assignment not later than 12:00 noon on Thursday, 14 January.