Environmental Courses at Rensselaer:


School of Science



70 Biology

70231 Microbiology The morphology and the physical and chemical activities of bacteria, yeasts, molds, and viruses. Laboratory work in techniques of microbiology. Quantitative aspects. Fall term annually. 4 credit hours, 6 contact hours

70431 Industrial Microbiology A survey of the uses of microorganisms in production of commercially important products, decomposition of wastes, and control of nuisance microorganisms. Development of fermentation processes, types of fermentation equipment, product recovery, and fermentation economics are discussed. Prerequisites: 70231 and 70476 or 72225, or permission of instructor. Spring term odd-numbered years. 3 credit hours

70432 Geomicrobiology Microbial activities on rock and minerals; in soils and sediments. Microbial relationships to fossil fuels. Pertinent topics in limnology and marine microbiology. Prerequisite: 70231 or 70631 or 76101, or permission of instructor. Spring term annually. 3 credit hours

70444 Microbial Ecology A study of the interactions between microbes and their environments. Discussion includes the physiological ecology of microorganisms (effects of physical parameters on microbial distribution and activities in nature), dispersal mechanisms in nature, associations with higher organisms, and the role of man in manipulating microbial activities. Prerequisite: 70231 or permission of instructor. Fall term annually. 3 credit hours

70470 Fresh Water Ecology Laboratory Quantitative examination of major biological fresh water communities. Delineation of the physical and chemical regimes under which aquatic organisms exist. Basic limnological processes are studied to define aquatic systems of differing physical characteristics. Nutrient chemistry analyses of waters of varying acidity, alkalinity, and chemical loadings are related to their trophic status. Microcosm stimulation experiments delineate nutrient and food chain perturbations. Laboratory is taught at the Darrin Fresh Water Institute at Lake George for two weeks during August. Prerequisite: 70101 and 70102 or equivalent or permission of instructor. Fall and summer terms annually. 3 credit hours, 9 contact hours

70485 Principles of Ecology A study of the fundamental principles of the ecology of plants and animals. Interrelationships between organisms and their environments are discussed as well as material and energy balances in the ecosystem. Emphasis on the biology of populations (producers, consumers, and decomposers). Prerequisite: 70212 or 70101. Spring term annually. 3 credit hours

70487 Environmental Toxicology A study of the origins, transport, fate, and effects of toxic chemicals in the environment. Includes discussion of selective toxicity, biochemical modification, and tissue interactions for several classes of toxic chemicals. Prerequisites: 70101, 70102 and 70212. Spring term even-numbered years. 3 credit hours

70631 Microbiology An intensive review of the basic concepts of cellular organization, intermediary metabolism, and respiration in microorganisms. Particular emphasis is placed on the relationship between microorganisms and man. Fall, spring, and summer terms annually. 4 credit hours, 6 contact hours

70668 Applied and Environmental Microbiology A survey of applied aspects of microbiology including the application of microorganisms in industrial processes and the roles played by microorganisms in the environment. Emphasis is placed on ways in which microorganisms can be manipulated and controlled for human advantage. Current literature regarding manipulation and regulation of microbial activities is discussed. Prerequisite: 70231 or permission of instructor. Spring term even-numbered years. 3 credit hours


72 Chemistry

72254 Introduction to Geochemistry An introduction to the application of chemistry to the understanding of problems in the earth and environmental sciences. Topics include thermodynamics and phase equilibria as applied to mineral stability, rock evolution, and water chemistry; stable isotope systematics; radiogenic isotope systematics, trace element geochemistry, organic geochemistry, and geochemical cycles. (Cross listed as 76214. Students cannot receive credit for both this course and 76214). Prerequisite: 76110 and/or 76120 or permission of instructor. Spring term annually. 4 credit hours

72419 Environmental Measurements Modern methods used in analysis of environmental samples for monitoring and research purposes. Standard and advanced techniques of air, water, sediment, and soil analysis are covered including spectrometric and chromatographic methods. (Cross listed as 76419. Students cannot obtain credit for both this course and 76419). Prerequisite: permission of the instructor required. Fall term odd-numbered years. 3 credit hours

72454 Organic Geochemistry A broad survey of organic geochemistry suitable for students with a strong chemistry background who are majoring in science or engineering. Topics include the geochemistry of natural organic compounds in oceans, lakes, sediments, and soils and the transport and fate of organic pollutants. (Cross listed as 76454. Students cannot obtain credit for both this course and 76454). Prerequisites: 72221, 76120, or permission of instructor. Spring term odd-numbered years. 3 credit hours

72469 Aqueous Geochemistry Fundamentals of aqueous chemistry as applied to the evolution of natural waters. The course covers principles of chemical equilibrium, activity models for solutes, pH as a master variable, concentration and Eh-pH diagrams, mineral solubility, aqueous complexes, ion exchange, and stable isotopes. The carbonate system, weathering reactions, and acid rain are examined in detail. Emphasis is on the chemical reactions that control surface and groundwater evolution in natural and engineered (treatment process) settings. Students learn theory, computation methods, and the use of computer programs for calculation of speciation and mass balance. (Cross listed as 33469 and 76469. Students cannot receive credit for both this course and either 76469 or 33469). Prerequisite: permission of instructor. Fall term annually. 3 credit hours

72481 Chemistry of the Environment Chemical processes important in the environment from naturally occurring and man-induced systems. Thermodynamic and chemical considerations of fuels; the thermodynamics of the atmosphere; atmospheric photochemistry; chemistry of natural water systems; chemistry of pesticides, fertilizers, and other important environmental contaminants; aspects of the carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur cycles. (Cross-listed as 76481. Students cannot obtain credit for both this course and 76481). Prerequisites: 72120 and one prior or concurrent course in organic chemistry, or permission of instructor. Spring term annually. 3 credit hours


76 Earth and Environmental Sciences (Geology)

76101 Planet Earth I: The Solid Earth Age and origin of the Earth, internal constituents, and energy sources; how plates move, oceans develop, resources accumulate, and mountains rise. Gives nonspecialists a picture of the Earth's major processes and the ways in which they interact to provide the world's citizens with adequate material resources. (Students cannot obtain credit for both 76101 and 76110.) Fall term annually. 3 credit hours

76102 Planet Earth II: Oceans and Atmosphere An overview of the Earth's surface processes and environment aimed at the nonscientist. Nature and interactions between the major oceanic, atmospheric, and terrestrial systems. Interrelations between geology, the environment, and human activities. Geologic and environmental implications, constraints, and opportunities for past, present, and future human populations and cultures. Short- and long-term benefits and consequences of actions or inaction. (Students cannot obtain credit for both 76102 and 76120.) Spring term annually. 3 credit hours

76110 Geology I: Earth's Interior Age and origin of the Earth, internal constituents and energy sources. How plates move, oceans develop, and mountains rise. The course aims to give a quantitative picture of the Earth's major processes and the ways in which they interact. Fall term annually. 4 credit hours, 3 1/2 contact hours

76120 Geology II: Earth's Surface The geological environment of man: groundwater, landslides, rivers, glaciers, deserts, coasts, and volcanoes. The course explores the processes by which these and other features develop and change, the opportunities or hazards they present, and the ways in which man can modify their development. Spring term annually. 4 credit hours

76204 Historical Geology The history of the Earth and of life on Earth. Principles and methods of historical geology. Prerequisite: 76101 or 76102. Spring term even-numbered years. 3 credit hours, 4 contact hours

76210 Introduction to Geophysics An introduction to various aspects of the study of the physics of the Earth. Stress and strain, deformation, isostasy, seismic waves, earthquakes, Earth structure, resource exploration, Earth dynamics, plate tectonics, mountain building, gravity and geodesy, magnetic field, and heat flow. Included are weekly labs and occasional field exercises. Spring term annually. 4 credit hours

76212 Structural Geology Observable rock structure; relations between rock properties and observed structures; relations among structures in regional synthesis. Prerequisite: 76211. Springterm even-numbered years. 4 credit hours

76214 Introduction to Geochemistry An introduction to the application of chemistry to the understanding of problems in the earth and environmental sciences. Topics include thermodynamics and phase equilibria as applied to mineral stability, rock evolution, and water chemistry; stable isotope systematics; radiogenic isotope systematics; trace element geochemistry, organic geochemistry, and geochemical cycles. (Cross listed as 72254. Students cannot obtain credit for both this course and 72254.) Prerequisite: 76110 and/or 76120, or permission of instructor. Spring term annually. 4 credit hours

76221 Field Methods I Principles and methods of geologic mapping. Use of instruments. Selected field problems. Fall term annually. 2 credit hours, 3 contact hours

76233 Mineralogy Concepts and principles of modern mineralogy, including crystallography and crystal chemistry, bonding and atomic structure, basic thermodynamics related to the stabilities of minerals, optical properties and X-ray diffraction, microscopic recognition of the major rock-forming minerals, nature of mineral surfaces, and the mineral/water interface. Fall term annually. 4 credit hours

76261 Oceanography Ocean basins and margins; distribution, chemistry, and history of sediments; physical and chemical properties of seawater; global atmospheric and oceanic circulations and climatic interactions. Prerequisites: 72110, 78110, or permission of instructor. Fall term even-numbered years. 3 credit hours

76407 Sedimentology Sediments and sedimentary rocks as part of the geologic cycles; the present as a key to the past. Sedimentary processes, products, and environments. Sedimentary strata as documents of geologic chronology. Spring term odd-numbered years. 3 credit hours, 4 contact hours

76410 Rock Mechanics The course covers mechanical properties of rocks: elastic behaviors, other behaviors, weathering, jointing, and anisotropy. Applications are to shafts, tunnels, arches, roof stability, excavations, and arch dams. Students already well grounded in mechanics will be introduced to the properties of rocks; students already familiar with rocks will spend extra time on groundwork in mechanics. Prerequisite: 76212 or 20206 or equivalent. Spring term on sufficient demand. 3 credit hours, 3 1/2 contact hours

76412 Subsurface Structures and Deformation The first half of the course covers geometrical techniques by which fragments of information are combined into a continuous picture of the subsurface. The second half emphasizes fluids in rocks, their migration, their influence on the rocks' mechanical behavior and their influence on petroleum and ores. Course has practical slant, for people who will become practitioners. Prerequisite: 76212 or equivalent. Spring term on sufficient demand. 3 credit hours

76418 Environmental Geology An overview of near-surface geological systems and human interaction with them, followed by a topical discussion of key geo-societal issues including, but not limited to, earthquake hazards, landslides, water pollution, waste disposal, and health risks posed by radon and asbestos. Prerequisites: 76101 or 76102, 76110 or 76120, or permission of instructor. Spring term annually. 3 credit hours

76419 Environmental Measurements Modern methods used in analysis of environmental samples for monitoring and research purposes. Standard and advanced techniques of air, water, sediment, and soil analysis are covered including spectrometric and chromatographic methods. (Cross listed as 72419. Students cannot obtain credit for both this course and 72419.) Prerequisite: permission of the instructor required. Fall term odd-numbered years. 3 credit hours

76420 Geomorphology Surficial processes, land forms, and their geological significance. Analysis of aerial photographs and topographic maps, field trip. Spring term on sufficient demand. 3 credit hours

76422 Field Methods II Advanced field problems in structural mapping and stratigraphic description. Spring term annually. 2 credit hours, 3 contact hours

76423 Field Methods III Advanced field exercises in sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous terrains. Fall term annually. 2 credit hours, 3 contact hours

76434 Igneous Petrology In-depth discussion of the processes and products of melting and solidification in the Earth, including generation and segregation of partial melts in the Earth; migration, emplacement, and eruption of magmas; properties of molten silicates; role of volatiles; trace-element and isotopic constraints; tectonic controls and significance. Prerequisites: 76233 and 76214. On sufficient demand. 3 credit hours

76440 Energy Resources An overall review is made of the reserves and resources of energy available from the Earth in the form of coal, gas, oil, oil shale, geothermal power, and uranium. Mode of occurrence and discovery and production rates of each source are discussed. Energy sources of U.S. and world are compared in relation to past and present consumption rates and to extrapolations of future patterns of consumption. Spring term annually. 3 credit hours

76453 Metamorphic Petrology Origin and evolution of metamorphic belts in the context of plate tectonics. Emphasis is placed on understanding the fundamental processes operative during metamorphism, gaining a working knowledge of metamorphic rock types, and applying this understanding to the interpretation of mountain belts. Prerequisites: 76233 and 76214. On sufficient demand. 3 credit hours

76454 Organic Geochemistry A broad survey of organic geochemistry suitable for students with a strong chemistry background who are majoring in science or engineering. Topics include the geochemistry of natural organic compounds in oceans, lakes, sediments, and soils and the transport and fate of organic pollutants. (Cross listed as 72454. Students cannot obtain credit for both this course and 72454.) Prerequisites: 72221, 76120, or permission of instructor. Spring term odd-numbered years. 3 credit hours

76457 Solid Earth Geophysics The course covers the physics of the Earth's interior, including a survey of its evolution, rotation, gravity and tides, seismicity, internal heat, magnetism, and tectonics. Fall term odd-numbered years. 3 credit hours

76458 Exploration Geophysics The principal physical tools used in petroleum and mineral exploration are treated, including seismic, gravitational, magnetic, electrical, and radioactivity methods. Case histories are discussed. Prerequisite: 76259. Fall term even-numbered years. 3 credit hours

76460 Introduction to Planetary Science Study of the surfaces, atmospheres, and interiors of the terrestrial planets, the giant planets and their satellites, and the minor bodies (asteroids, comets, meteorites) using the results of telescopic studies and manned and unmanned planetary probes. Emphasis is placed on the origin and evolution of the planetary system and upon the processes that control the surface and internal properties. Prerequisite: 76110 or 76120 or 79153 or 79201 or 79202 or permission of instructor. Spring term odd-numbered years. 3 credit hours

76463 Geodynamics Quantitative study of a broad range of geologic processes using continuum physics. Topics include magnetism, stress and strain, elasticity, flexure, gravity, fluid mechanics applied to such problems as paleomagnetism, plate tectonics, crustal strain, bending of the lithosphere under a variety of loads, the Earth's shape, postglacial rebound, diapirism, folding, mantle convection, thermodynamics of the lithosphere. Extensive problem solving. Prerequisites: 76457, 65240. Fall term even-numbered years. 3 credit hours

76464 Global Tectonics Quantitative study of the motions and interactions of the lithospheric plates on the Earth. Seafloor magnetic anomalies, polar wander, seismological constraints, continental consequences of plate motions, methods of determining poles of rotations and plate motion rates, and a global overview of plate geometry. Prerequisite: 76101. Spring term odd-numbered years. 3 credit hours

76465 Seismology Study of phenomena associated with earthquakes. Topics include elastic wave propagation, earthquake source mechanics, and seismic risk analysis. Prerequisite: 76457 or 76458. Fall term odd-numbered years. 3 credit hours

76466 Field Geophysics Collection and interpretation of geophysical data in a field environment. Data include gravity, magnetic, seismic, and electrical measurements. Prerequisite: 76458. Spring term odd-numbered years. 2 credit hours

76468 Applications of Geophysics to Groundwater Hydrology Uses of geophysical techniques to address problems in groundwater hydrology. Includes high resolution gravity, seismic, electrical, and radar techniques. Spring term even-numbered years. 3 credit hours

76469 Aqueous Geochemistry Fundamentals of aqueous chemistry as applied to the evolution of natural waters. The course covers principles of chemical equilibrium, activity models for solutes, pH as a master variable, concentration and Eh-pH diagrams, mineral solubility, aqueous complexes, ion exchange, and stable isotopes. The carbonate system, weathering reactions, and acid rain are examined in detail. Emphasis is on the chemical reactions that control surface and groundwater evolution in natural and engineered (treatment process) settings. Students learn theory, computation methods, and the use of computer programs for calculation of speciation and mass balance. (Cross listed as 72469 and 33469. Students cannot obtain credit for both this course and either 72469 or 33469.) Prerequisite: permission of instructor. Fall term annually. 3 credit hours

76471 Groundwater Hydrology Study of hydrologic, geologic, and other factors controlling groundwater flow, occurrence, development, chemistry, and contamination. Groundwater flow theory and aquifer test methods are introduced. Interactions between surface and subsurface hydrologic systems are covered. Some field trips are possible. (Students cannot receive credit for both this course and 76671.) Prerequisite: 65120 or equivalent, or permission of the instructor. Fall term annually. 3 credit hours

76472 Groundwater Hydraulics A quantitative treatment of fluid flow in subsurface media. Derivation of the fluid flow equation followed by application to various hydrologic situations, including flow to wells. Emphasis on analytic solutions and their assumptions. Some field trips are possible. (Students cannot receive credit for both this course and 76672.) Prerequisites: knowledge of differential equations and vector calculus, 76456 or permission of the instructor. Spring term annually. 3 credit hours

76474 Applied Groundwater Modeling Study of numerical solutions to the ordinary and partial differential equations of groundwater flow and contaminant transport. Emphasis on modeling methodology and solving applied problems. Prerequisites: 76471 or 76671, or permission of instructor. Spring term on sufficient demand. 3 credit hours

76475 Geostatistics Introduction to statistical analysis of spatial data with emphasis on geological problems. The concepts of variograms, kriging, cokriging, multivariate techniques, correlation analysis and regression, and other state-of-the-art geostatistical concepts are covered. Prerequisites: 67401 or 67402 or equivalent, or permission of instructor. Spring term on sufficient demand. 3 credit hours

76671 Advanced Groundwater Hydrology An intensive study of hydrologic, geologic, and other factors controlling groundwater flow, occurrence, development, chemistry, and contamination. Groundwater flow theory and aquifer test methods are introduced. Interaction between surface and subsurface hydrologic systems are covered. Some field trips are possible. (Students cannot receive credit for both this course and 76471.) Prerequisites: 65120 or equivalent, or permission of instructor. Fall term annually. 3 credit hours

76672 Advanced Groundwater Hydraulics An in-depth, quantitative treatment of fluid flow in subsurface media. Derivation of the fluid flow equation followed by application to various hydrologic situations, including flow to wells. Emphasis on analytic solutions and their assumptions. Some field trips are possible. (Students cannot receive credit for both this course and 76472.) Prerequisites: knowledge of differential equations and vector calculus, 76671 or equivalent, or permission of instructor. Spring term annually. 3 credit hours

76673 Groundwater Contaminant Transport Theoretical and applied study of solute transport phenomena. Analytical and numerical solutions of the advection-dispersion equation and other techniques for solving groundwater contaminant transport problems. Issues of contamination sources, basic chemical concerns during transport, and monitoring and remediation are also covered. Transport modeling is also introduced. Some field trips are possible. Prerequisites: 65405 or equivalent, 76471 or 76671, or permission of instructor. Fall term annually. 3 credit hours



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