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GSC 103 Research Paper

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My topic is Ice Ages.


For the GSC 103 Written Assignment you will be required to write a 1000-1500 word research paper on any of the topics listed on the syllabus for this course (A list of topics can be found below). Only two students will be allowed to report on any given topic (first come-first serve basis). This is a great opportunity for you to practice researching and writing on a subject within the Earth Sciences, and to develop an understanding that extends beyond the material discussed in the lectures. You may even choose to pick one aspect of these major topics. For example, perhaps you are interested a particular mineral, metal, or other natural resource and you want to research its geology and economics. That is fine, as long as you check with me first. Furthermore, I understand that we are not all geoscientists and I want the relatively relaxed guidelines involved in this paper to allow you to find and research a topic that truly interests you. Finally, I hope you all to have fun with this project. Pick a topic that really catches your eye and learn about it in detail. I find that when time is spent to truly learn about something, we often carry that knowledge with us into the future.


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As you research your topic, I would like you to consider the following questions:

1) What is the history that has led to our current understanding of the topic you are researching? 2) Who are the main players involved in this research?

-In other words, who were the scientists involved in the discovery / major advancements in the history and evolution of the subject (if your topic has any)?

3) What are the major processes (physical and / or chemical) involved in your topic? 4) How does your topic affect our world, today?

-If you are researching a subject involved with deep time, how does it influence our thinking and understanding of our place on this planet, today? -If you choose energy and mineral resources, what are their environmental and economic impacts?

You do not necessarily have to incorporate all of these questions into your writing, but I want them to be a guide for you to use as you research your topic. When I grade these papers I will be looking for the following:

1) Organization—I want to see that you can present your ideas in a clear and organized way. 2) Detail—research (and really any) papers require a close eye to detail. I understand that we are not all

wordsmiths, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have to properly take the time to read and check our work. Sloppy papers reflect the intention of the writer, so just take some extra time to read and appreciate your product.

3) Consistency—you must use citations to correctly reference your work. The particular format you choose is not important, so long as it is consistent. If you have any questions regarding proper citation use, please ask.

4) Time—although these papers are not long, I want to see that you took this project seriously and spent the time to adequately research your writing. This goes beyond organization, detail, and consistency. I want to see that time was taken to thoroughly and properly execute the research of your particular topic.

Please email me and let me know which topic you are writing on by 9/20—all papers are due on 11/15 (hard copy— please NO emailed papers)—Late or emailed papers will receive half credit. Additionally, there is no writing credit available for this course.

Please complete this assignment by yourself and abide by the University of Miami Honor Code.


Structure of the Earth

Plate Tectonics

Atoms, Crystals, Minerals, Rocks

Igneous rocks

Weathering and Soil

Sedimentary Rocks

Metamorphic Rocks



Crustal Deformation

Mass Wasting

Relative and Absolute Dating

The Earth Through Time

Energy Resources

Mineral Resources

The Atmosphere

Streams and Floods


Ocean Currents

Tides and Coasts


Ice Ages

Glacial Geology

Climate Change

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