Environmental Geology Class – Spring 2011

back to: Kanat's home page or the class home page

Click on a week for the homework assignments:
Block the text you want to print, then click: file > print > selection > print.


Grading Rubrics
Exploratory Papers
PowerPoint Presentations



17 - 21 Jan 2011

Read appropriate sections of the textbook prior to class, take good notes, re-read the text and augment your notes, then see me if you are having difficulty. Do not fall behind or miss pieces of the puzzle.

Consider purchasing the class textbook from BookFinder4u.

Review The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. (1918).

See the 2010 World Population Data Sheet produced by the Population Reference Bureau for worldwide demographic data, or see the US Census Bureau for detailed US data.


Homework #1 (due 27 Jan 2011): Email.

Please send me an email that contains the following information:

a) a properly written email that describes the content of the attachment
b) a salutation, body, and a signature block (as part of the email)
c) an attachment


The attachment should:

a) include a title page
b) be properly paginated and formatted (no page numbers on title page)
c) have at least two paragraphs with two unique references
d) have one graph created in Excel that is referred to in the text and cited in the reference list; the text should flow around the graph
e) have a proper reference list that starts on a new page
f) be at least four pages long

end of assignment




Exploratory Paper #1 (due 10 Feb 2011): Exploratory Paper topic: population. Please follow the guidelines and use the grading rubric for Exploratory Papers.


Grading Rubric for Exploratory Papers (updated 15 Feb 2011)



got it




0 - 60%

61 - 80%

81 - 100%


Title page

some information

name, date, title, affiliation

nice format; informative; interesting title





succinct; well written; provocative; defended in paper




lacks detail

information-rich; succinct; all-encompassing


Page numbers


some pages missing; title page numbered

all pages (except title page) are numbered; first page of text is page one



required references missing (as per assignment)

poor style; missing or additional citations in list

all references cited in text (and vice versa); proper format



no captions, not informative

cited; referenced; but poor quality; not relevant; or not informative

captions; referenced; informative; referred to in text


Use of numbers

failed to write out numbers less than ten

inconsistent; sloppy

zero in front of decimal point; significant figures; consistency; starting sentences



poor use of white space

subheadings; stapled

use of PC technology to flow text and figures; appropriate symbols


Writing style

poor writing style; poor grammar

sentences difficult to understand

clear sentence structure; coherent paragraphs; proper grammar; segues


Relevant and significant content

information not related to the thesis

outdated; too simplistic; poorly researched

quantitative; relevant; current; refereed; broad-based, focused; original writing


Source article

insignificant part of paper; wrong topic

barely used; introduced late; much of the paper focuses on a different topic

thesis based on source article


Photocopy of original paper

not attached

poor quality photocopy

good photocopy; attached appropriately


Late fee

loss of 10 points per calendar day


Page limit

loss of 10 points for exceeding page limit, or page format:
minimum 10-point font, 0.75 inch margins, and 1.5 line spacing.


Dated source article

loss of 5 points for an old article


apostrophe, hyphen, capitalized words, spelling errors, and noun-verb agreement

loss of two points for each incorrect occurrence
maximum loss of 30 points




Books on reserve at the JSC Library:

Miller, G. Tyler, 2004. Living in the Environment (13th Edition), Brooks/Cole, CA, 757 pages.
Tarbuck, E. and F. Lutgens, 2006. Earth Science (11th Edition), Prentice Hall, NJ, 726 pages.




24 - 28 Jan 2011

Lectures: population, exponential growth, and doubling time.

Lab: use of semi-log graphs, Excel, and email.


Homework #2 (due 3 Feb 2011): Click here to see the assignment. Be sure to i) email the Word document and Excel spreadsheet (with tables and graphs) to me, and ii) submit a printed copy of the manuscript as described in the assignment.


Assignment Note: Modfication to Exploratory Paper 1 – only two properly referenced figures are required for this paper (not five).



31 Jan - 4 Feb 2011

A few comments regarding Homework 1 (email, text wrapping and reference style):


Homework #3 (due 17 Feb 2011): Click here to see the assignment. Be sure to i) email the Word document and Excel spreadsheet (with tables and graphs) to me, and ii) submit a printed copy of the manuscript as described in the assignment.

Read the following story on Vermont Public Radio (14 Feb 2011): "Administration Wants To Identify Areas Off Limits To Wind Energy".




6 - 12 Feb 2011

Comments from Homework #2: Population Growth


Tuesday discussion: ecology and natural hazards.




PowerPoint Presentation #1 (due 9 March 2011):  Use the following grading rubric for PowerPoint presentations (and see the notes that follow):

Grading Rubric for PowerPoint Presentations
(modified: 8 Feb 2011)

assessment item



title page slide

informative title








thesis statement slide

clearly presents overall topic


abstract slide

succinct and informative


conclusion slide

appropriate summary highlighting thesis


reference list slide

proper style


the argument

relevant, accurate, and important


addresses major points of thesis; built appropriately


discussion adds content to slides; bulleted statements


current ideas and data


statements referenced


synthesis of existing ideas


use of scientific terms and appropriate language


graphs and figures

relevant, informative, and adds content


labeled – Figure 1. Title (Author, Year) or minimally (Author, Year)


at least five figures or graphs


presentation style

clearly spoken; no dysfluencies


speaker appears confident and understands topic


dynamic, dramatic, exciting, well-paced, stance


skillfully answers student questions


eye contact and audience involvement


use of technology

page transitions


color scheme; starting and ending slides


slide animations


consistent and appropriate visual theme


font size


slide titles



six slides per page


one copy


legible slides (pure black and white)


page numbers


properly stapled


late fee

loss of ten points per calendar day


apostrophe, hyphen, capitalized words,spelling errors, and noun-verb agreement

loss of two points for each incorrect occurrence;
maximum loss of 30 points



 Notes regarding PowerPoint presentations:
  • It would be appropriate to use the content from the first Exploratory Paper for the content of the PowerPoint presentation; alternatively, the content from the first exponential growth assignment could be used.
  • Total presentation time: 14 minutes per speaker.
  • Use the screen – use large pictures, large graphs, and a large font.
  • Do not use bullets if there is only one point made on the slide.
  • Do not use a hanging indent if there is only one statement on the screen.
  • Do not make excuses before or during your presentation.
  • Use few words.
  • If a phrase is really a sentence, then put a period at the end.
  • Abstracts are not overviews – quantitatively define the issue.
  • Use data to support the thesis.
  • The conclusion should summarize what was already stated; do not introduce new topics.
  • Do not center-align the text (unless it is a figure caption).
  • Stick to one font size and decoration.
  • It is nice to introduce yourself and the presentation.
  • Avoid orphans in text, titles, and figure captions.
  • Avoid 'um' when speaking – make a note on your notes!
  • Look at the audience, not at the screen.
  • Cite (with author and year) all statements and ideas that are not your own.
  • Determine an appropriate final slide.



Wednesday Lab: Flood hazard analysis

The goal is to use appropriate mathematical modeling to determine recurrence intervals for floods of varying magnitudes. The models follow the standard techniques applied in this country. Follow the instructions below to select a stream from the USGS Surface-Water Data for USA online resource.

  1. Ski to http://waterdata.usgs.gov/usa/nwis/sw
  2. Click: ‘Peak-flow data’
  3. Select 'State/Territory' for the site location, then click ‘submit’
  4. Choose a state, then click: ‘submit’
  5. Click on a site number (data should cover at least 50 years)
  6. Select ‘tab-separated file’
  7. Parse the data into Excel, select the appropriate columns, and perform the appropriate calculations (as described below).


Assignment (due 3 Mar 2011): Flood hazard analysis

Create spreadsheets similar to those presented by Keller (2011) in Tables 6.B p. 165 and 6.C p. 166 (be sure to include Log-Pearson type III distribution equations as described in class in order to estimate future flood conditions).

There is an error in Keller (2011 p. 166) Table 6.C; change the column headings from (Q - Q) to (Q - Qbar), (Q - Qbar)2, and (Q - Qbar)3.





Summary of required tables, figures, and calculations:

 end of assignment


NOTE: Quiz on Thursday, 17 February 2011



14 - 18 February 2011

General comments regarding the Exploratory Paper 1:


Assessment of future papers will include the loss of two points for each error in noun-verb agreement and misuse of capital letters.


The definitions of thesis and abstract come from the Compact Oxford English Dictionary (1979):


Please read following paper that Amanda chose as the source article for Exploratory Paper 1: Kunzig, Robert, 2011. Seven Billion. National Geographic 219:42-63.


Exploratory Paper #2 (due 31 March 2011): Exploratory Paper topic: flooding or seismicity. Please follow the guidelines and use the grading rubric for Exploratory Papers and include at least four properly cited figures.



21 -25 February 2011

Winter Break please be careful.  


See the following 21 Feb 2011 report by the BBC World Service: German minister gives up doctorate after plagiarism row.

See the following 21 Feb 2011 report by the BBC World Service: Deaths after quake hits Christchurch in New Zealand, the USGS site, and The Big Picture from The Boston Globe.




28 February - 4 March 2011

NOTE: Quiz on Thursday, 3 Mar 2011 (based on Strunk and White).


Spend some time on the Grammar Girl web site, http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/, and download the podcasts.


General Comments for Assignment Three: Wind power and doubling time.


Are you passionate about wind power in Vermont – now is the time to make a difference. Click here to learn more; all three links on that file go to the following page:



More information can be found at http://energizevermont.org/2010/12/usda-forest-service-issues-supplemental-draft-environmental-impact-statement-for-deerfield-wind-project/ and http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/forests/greenmountain/htm/greenmountain/links/projects/docs/deerfield_wind/deerfield_noi_07_08_05.pdf.


Read more about wind power in China and the US in a WorldWatch publication.




7 - 11 March 2011

NOTE: I got so excited about seismicity, I forgot to give the quiz! We can do that on Tuesday, 8 Mar 2011 (based on Strunk and White).

Need a job... click here.


 Look at the predicted discharge of the Lamoille River; the stream gauge is near Dog's Head.


Tsunami video associated with the 8.9 magnitude earthquake in Japan on 11 March 2011.




14 - 18 March 2011

Numerous discussions about tsunami, seismicity and nuclear power.

Inititial discussions regarding groundwater.

Assignment (due 14 April 2011): Use the guidelines for the homework and the spreadsheet to use to track data for the hydraulic conductivity laboratory. The thermodynamic properties of water will be used in conjunction with this lab. The Udden-Wentworth grain-size scale might also be of use. Click here for the Hazen Method.





21 - 25 March 2011

Further discussions regarding groundwater.

Visit the Johnson Water Treatment Facility on 30 March 2011. See recent job description for facility operator. See the award given by the EPA to the facility operators.

One factor that affects groundwater quality depends directly on the rocks that comprise the aquifer. View the EPA list of drinking water contaminants and maximum contaminant levels. The Vermont Department of Health can test your water for a large number of contaminants. Click here to find out what is in the groundwater in your area. Read about bottled water versus tap water. 


See the VSC Oral Communications Standard: form and rubric.


USGS Landslide Hazards Program at http://landslides.usgs.gov

USGS Landslide Handbook at http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/1325/






26 - 29 March 2011

The questions today are related to the flooding in Johnson on 27 April 2011.

  1. What is the recurrence interval for the streamflow event of 27 April 2011?
  2. What is the annual probability for the streamflow event of 27 April 2011?
  3. What discharge is associated with the 100-year flood?


Information required to answer questions:


 Please submit the following:

  1. Before you begin the calculations, describe the approach you intend to use to solve the problem; print and submit your response by 11:45 a.m.
  2. On a separate document present the answers to Questions 1-3 above and a justification for the answers presented (to include a bit of methodology).

    Needless to say (hopefully), submit the documents in professional form.


2 - 6 May 2011

The class modeled the global warming potential of a CO2-enriched environment using infrared lamps, soil, water, aquaria, and thermometers. Data were collected on one-minute intervals for a period of 26 minutes. Please present the results of the experiment and include the following: cover page, thesis, introduction to the problem, experimental setup, problems and inadequacies of the model, observations, interpretations, and conclusions. Submit the document in professional form on Thursday, 5 May 2011.




Final Exam: Tuesday, 10 May 2011 at 10:30 a.m. in B203


back to: Kanat's home page or the class home page
send e-mail to Leslie Kanat

The WebCounter indicates that visits have been made to this page since 11 Jan 2011.