The Planetary Chemistry Laboratory at Washington University in Saint Louis


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The following courses have been offered by the Earth and Planetary Science Department of Washington University in St. Louis, and have been taught by Professor Bruce Fegley of the Planetary Chemistry Laboratory.

Current Courses:

Planetary Geochemistry EPSc 474
This course is a survey of the origin of the solar system; the geochemistry of the planets, their satellites, the other small bodies in the solar system, meteorites, and of extrasolar planets and brown dwarfs. It utilizes data from Earth-based, Earth orbital, and spacecraft observations, and makes extensive use of physical chemistry for data interpretation and for predictions. Professor Fegley has taught this course every other year for the past few years, and will teach it again in  the Spring 2009 semester (syllabus).

Earth System Science EPSc 401
This course is a quantitative introduction to physical and chemical interactions among the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and land.  Students learn about the use of the geologic record to infer how much these interactions have varied over time. Professor Fegley taught this class in the fall of 1995, the spring of 2001, 2003, 2005 (syllabus), and Spring 2008, and Spring 2010 (syllabus).

Thermodynamics & Phase Equilibria EPSc 569
This course covers the basic equilibrium thermodynamics relevant to geological systems, including the derivation of the reaction log K as a function of temperature and pressure and activity-composition models for various minerals and co-existing gas/fluid phases. These principles are applied to the calculation of phase diagrams for simple systems and to the interpretation of phase relations for more complex systems determined by experiments and topological constraints. Professor Fegley taught this course in the fall of 1996, 1998-2009, and will teach it again in fall of 2010 (syllabus).

Old Courses (no longer offered):

Biogeochemistry EPSc 323
This is an introductory course for students of environmental science and nonscience majors alike. It offers a survey of biogeochemical interactions among Earth’s crust, oceans, and atmosphere, including perturbations due to human activities. The geochemical cycles of organic elements including carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, and sulfur are discussed. Also covered are topics such as the greenhouse effect and the effect of organic and inorganic wastes on groundwater. This course was taught by Professor Fegley during the spring semesters of 1995, ’96, and ’97.

Geochemistry Core Course EPSc 549
This course covers a wide variety of topics, including the composition of the Earth, mantle mineralogy, melting and magma production, crystal-melt element partitioning, equilibrium and fractional crystallization, rare-earth geochemistry, radioactive and stable isotopes in geochemistry, geochronology, statistics as applied to geochemical problems, and lunar geochemistry. Professor Fegley was the instructor for this course during the spring semester of 1995.

Geochemistry of Minerals & Magmas EPSc 589
This course covers varied topics related to the physical chemistry of geologic materials and igneous processes, including crystal structure and chemical bonding in minerals, thermodynamics of mineral solid solutions, defects in minerals, sintering and solid state reactions in a geologic context, thermodynamic and transport properties of magmas, trace element partitioning between minerals and magmas, trace element adsorption and diffusion in magmas, fractional and equilibrium crystallization of magmas, and magma mixing.  This class was taught by Professor Fegley in spring of 1995.

Seminar on High Temperature Geochemistry
This seminar was organized and led by Professor Fegley during the fall semester of 1994.  The topics covered included temperature measurement, producing high temperatures in the laboratory, using refractory materials, high temperature chemical equilibria, thermodynamic measurements, statistical mechanics, thermodynamic data assessment, evaporation/sublimation kinetics, gas phase and heterogeneous kinetics, and transport property measurements.

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