Oceanography Curriculum Outline

by Prof. William A. Prothero, Dept. of Geological Sciences


<Curriculum Index><Weekly Assignment Outline>

I. Shape and Evolution of the ocean basins theme

A. History of Oceanography

1.     What were the interests of ancient civilizations in oceanography?  

2.     Who, and how did the oceans get explored?

3.     What were the major questions that early explorers asked about the oceans?

4.     How did early explorers figure out where they were when out of sight of land?

Specifically, cover Polynesian exploration, Viking exploration, and Captain Cook’s voyages.

B. Earth formation

1.     Age of universe/Big Bang theory

2.     Age of earth

3.     Age of ocean basins

4.     How are these ages determined?

5.     Where did the ocean water come from?

6.     Evolution of the atmosphere

C. Earth Interior

1.     overall structure vs depth –crust/mantle/core

2.     temperature vs depth

3.     crust/mantle/core

D. Physiography

1.     Names and locations of oceans, continents, and seas

2.     Ocean basins regions: shelf, slope, rise, ..

3.     Major features on the seafloor

4.     Difference between continents and ocean basins properties: why are the continents higher than the ocean floor?

5.     Life at mid-ocean ridges

E. Plate Tectonics

1.     Theory of plate tectonics

2.     Spreading

3.     Transform

4.     Subduction

Relationship between plate boundaries and observable phenomena

a.     Topography

b.     Quakes

c.     Volcanoes

d.     Island chains

e.     Seafloor age

Miscellaneous facts about plate tectonics

a.     Age of oldest ocean crust, and where is it?

b.     Be able to draw tectonic map (rough) of Atlantic and Pacific ocean basins, showing locations of the major divergent, convergent, and transform boundaries.

F. After this theme, students should be able to:

1.     Identify the continents and ocean basins on a world map

2.     Draw an approximate tectonic map on a gray-scale physiographic map of the world

3.     Use topography, quakes, volcanoes, and age data to identify a plate boundary type.

4.     Be able to argue, using earth data from “Our Dynamic Planet” CDROM, for the theory of plate tectonics.

5.     To be able to use earth data to compare and contrast plate boundary geometry at different locations.

This would depend on the boundary, but would include plate dip and depth at subduction zones and spreading rate at mid-ocean ridges and transforms.