Online Geophysics Course and Class Information

Nov 29, 2017

Online geophysics classes teach the theory and procedures scientists use to analyze, test, measure and evaluate the underlying processes of terrestrial formation and evolution. These classes most often examine Earth but also consider other solar and extra-solar planets.

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Online Courses in Geophysics

Below are a few of the geophysics courses that students can take online.

  • Fundamentals of Geophysics Course: Students learn the basics of geophysics and its sub-disciplines, such as volcanology, subsurface hydrology, petrology, seismology and plate tectonic theory. They use tools to measure the dynamic forces of Earth's interior while studying terrestrial elements, mineral formation and ore extraction techniques. In addition, students review the various theories of planetary formation and apply them to extra-solar rocky planets.
  • Volcanology and the Dynamic Earth Course: This course provides an overview of the cultural, historical and sociological effects of volcanic activity on human populations. Students are taught how to identify the geologic and physical properties of stratovolcanoes, shield volcanoes and compound volcanoes. The curriculum emphasizes the rheological and viscoelastic properties of lava and magma. In addition, the course teaches the chemical composition of ash and specifies the meteorological and biological hazards associated with ash cloud formation.
  • Plate Tectonic and Seismology Course: In this course, students examine the composition, movement and interaction of tectonic plates. They review the development of plate theory and discuss subsequent challenges and modifications to it. Students are exposed to the theories of wave propagation in layered media by studying the interior dynamics of the Earth and evaluating potential earthquake hazards to life and property around the world.
  • Groundwater and Subsurface Hydrology Course: This course details the hydraulic principles that govern the movement of water above and below Earth's surface. It shows how water moves through porous material and how watersheds function by analyzing measurements of flow equations based on aquifer stress and pumping tests. The course also focuses students' attention on identifying and solving engineering problems, such as soil instability and deformation caused by subsurface water movement.
  • Geotechnics Fundamentals Course: Attendees in this class learn the geologic and geophysical principles that govern construction site selection and the building of bridges, dams, roads and other structures. They learn engineering standards to reduce the risk of damage from earthquakes, soil instability and liquefaction for both shallow and deep foundation construction. They also identify the planning, implementation and documentation responsibilities for the designer, site manager and construction engineer.
  • Near Surface Geophysical Imaging Course: This course explores the theory, methods and application of seismic imaging for the near surface. Both conventional and advanced methods are used. Students learn how to solve the shallow effects on seismic data processing for oil and gas exploration.
  • Rock Excavation Course: This course will teach students about rocks in underground mines, including the practice of blasting. The mechanics of rock fracture will also be emphasized.
  • Soils Foundation Engineering Course: The shallow and deep foundations of various settlements will be addressed in this online course. Other topics include metastable soils and foundation problems that are solved with computer codes. Pile and elastic foundations will also be covered.

Program Information

Online classes can satisfy some of the degree requirements for graduate degree programs, such as a Master of Engineering in Geotechnics, Master of Science (M.S.) in Engineering, M.S. in Geological Engineering and M.S. in Applied Science Education. These online courses are also available through certificate programs in geotechnics and geotechnical earthquake engineering. Students taking advanced courses in geophysics generally need prior coursework in physics, chemistry or geology, depending on the course. Some online courses require calculators with advanced functions. Although there are courses offered entirely online, others require additional laboratory work or field trips. Free online courses also exist.

Students can study geophysics online typically via master's degree and certificate programs. There are also options for free online courses. Coursework in these programs will include plate tectonics, geotechnics and rock excavation.

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