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Ch 310 - Geochemistry Winter 2011

This course has an environmental emphases, with applications to radiometric dating, isotope fractionation, weathering and clay mineralogy..................

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Instructor Dr. Pete Poston
office: NS 110
phone: 503-838-8218
office hours: M 2, W 11 and 1, R 1, F 11, make an appointment, or just drop by.
email questions: postonp@wou.edu
Web page: http://www.wou.edu/poston
Pre-req's One year of college chemistry, ES 351 or equivalent; or consent of instructor

"Principles of Environmental Geochemistry", 1st ed.,G. Nelson Eby.

There's also an online text that is too advanced for this class, but still has some good explanations in it. It's written by Prof. W.M. White at Cornell University.


Assigned, collected, and graded. Frequently similar problems will appear on an exam! After collection, links to homework answer keys will be posted at the top of this webpage.

If you don't hand in any homework, you fail the class.

Exam Policies

There are no make-up exams except for University sanctioned events, in which case please see me a week in advance for an alternative testing time. In the event of an unexpected emergency, then -

Midterms: Family-related emergencies or deaths must be communicated through the Office of Student Affairs (838-8221) and broadcast to all your professors. Illnesses must be verifiable. Under these conditions there are two options for replacing the midterm score:

(1) If the exam hasn't been handed back to the class yet, then arrange a make-up time with me.

(2) If the exam has already been returned to the class, then I will replace the missing hour exam score by taking 30% of the percentage you receive on the final exam (since it is a 150 pt exam) and 70% of the other midterm score. This option can obviously only be used once.

Final exam: University policy states that the final exam time will not be moved. Please do not ask to take the final early because you want to leave for vacation early! There are humanitarian exceptions - see me if there's a problem. Again, if you miss the final and follow the same procedure listed above under midterms, then I will give you an incomplete and you can take the final in a future class section to make it up (see Incompletes section below)

Incompletes Incompletes are given under special circumstances such as medical reasons, family emergencies, etc. In order to receive an incomplete, the University requires you to sign a contract with me outlining the steps you must take to finish the course. Usually this means there will be a time deadline for completion of the course before your grade reverts to an "F".
200 pts (50%) 2 hour exams (T Jan 25 and Tue Feb 22)
150 pts (38%) comprehensive final (R, Mar 17, 12-2)
50 pts (12%) 5 homework sets (10 pts each)
400 pts total
Students with Disabilities

It is your right to request special accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. For questions, call the Office for Disability Services at (503) 838-8250 V/TTY, or email them at ods@wou.edu.

Academic Dishonesty

The Code of Student Responsibility defines cheating as "intentional use, or attempted use of artifice, deception, fraud, and/or misrepresentation of one's academic work". For this class, which involves taking exams, quizzes, and perform labs, cheating is usually but not limited to talking or writing to other students, using crib sheets (prepared notes), or looking at another student's paper. The penalty for cheating will be a zero grade for the test or quiz or assignment in question.

Students have the right to appeal this action as described in the Code of Student Responsibility


Subject to Change as I Rewrite the Course

  • Chemistry and Geology Review

  • Rocks & Minerals Review
  • Nucleosynthesis - Origin of the Elements, Structure and Composition of the Earth
    (not in the text - I will furnish reference materials)
  • Isotopes, decay equations

  • Rb/Sr dating, U/Pb dating, C-14 dating

  • Stable Isotope Geochemistry, 18O/16O geothermometry
  • 2D/18O ratios
  • The Atmospheric Environment - Ozone Hole, Global Warming, Air Pollution

  • The Continental Environment - Ionic substitution, Weathering, Carbonates, Clay Minerals, Hydrolysis of Silicates

  • Intro to Electrochemistry

  • Nernst Equation

  • Eh-pH (Pourbaix) Diagrams


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This page last modified on Thu Mar 27 2008 16:30:37 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time)