Geophysics 5096/Geology 6331

Global Tectonics/Geotectonics


Instructor: Dr. Steve Gao, Professor of geophysics

E-mail:; Phone: (573)-341-6676;

Office: B-35 McNutt Hall.

Office hours: Mondays 9-12; Wednesdays 2-5 or drop by anytime


Meeting time/place: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30-10:45, McNutt 210

Textbook:  Global Tectonics by Kearey and Vine (2nd edition)


Course objectives:



As a “capstone” course, Global Tectonics provides students with an integrated view of the Earth’s structure and plate dynamics with an emphasis on information gained through geophysical methods. 



Grading scheme:


5-8 homework assignments: 20%

Mid-term exam: 20%

Final exam (comprehensive): 30%

Attendance and participation in discussion: 20%

Research paper presentation:    10%


Scales for Grade Assignment (no extra credits allowed)

A: 90 – 100%                  B: 80 – 89%        C: 70 – 79%   D: 60 – 69%  F: 0-59%


Class Policies:


1. Each time you missed a class without the instructor’s pre-approval, you will lose two (out of a maximum of 20) of the “Attendance and participation” points.


2. In order to make up a missed exam, you need to notify the instructor about your absence before the exam. In addition, sufficient physical evidence must be present to the instructor to justify your absence.


3. Late works will not be accepted, unless you get the approval of the instructor before the deadline.


4. The PPT file for the lecture should be available on Blackboard at about 11 PM on the day before the lecture. Please print it out as “Handout” and bring to the classroom.





Schedule (non-restrictive)


Week 1: Chapter 1: Introduction & history of global tectonics


Weeks 2 and 3: Chapter 2: Earth’s internal structures


Week 4: Chapter 3: Continental drifts


Week 5: Chapter 4:  Sea floor spreading


Week 6: Chapter 5: Framework of plate tectonics


Week 7: Midterm examination and Chapter 6: Ocean ridges (I)


Week 8: Chapter 6: Ocean ridges (II)


Weeks 9: Chapter 7:  Transform and transcurrent faults


Weeks 10: Chapter 8:  subduction zones (I)


Week 11: spring break


Week 12: subduction zones (II)


Week 13: Chapter 9:  Mountain ranges


Week 14: Chapter 10: continental rifts


Week 15:  Chapter 11:  What drives plate motion?


Weeks 16 & 17: Current research topics in global tectonics; review for final exam;     Buffer time


Week 18: Finals week