The Environment of the Earth's Surface

A satellite photograph of a meandering river.

This satellite photograph of the Songhua River in China illustrates how a meandering river can shape the surrounding landscape. (Courtesy of NASA; photograph in the public domain.)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Spring 2007



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Course Features

Course Description

A great variety of processes affect the surface of the Earth. Topics to be covered are production and movement of surficial materials; soils and soil erosion; precipitation; streams and lakes; groundwater flow; glaciers and their deposits. The course combines aspects of geology, climatology, hydrology, and soil science to present a coherent introduction to the surface of the Earth, with emphasis on both fundamental concepts and practical applications, as a basis for understanding and intelligent management of the Earth's physical and chemical environment.

John Southard. 12.090 The Environment of the Earth's Surface, Spring 2007. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

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