Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 3 sessions / week, 1 hour / session

Labs: 2 sessions / week, 2 hours / session


Differential Equations (18.03); Introduction to Geology (12.001); Transport Processes in the Environment (1.61) or permission of instructor


This course offers an introduction to quantitative analysis of geomorphic processes, and examines the interaction of climate, tectonics, and surface processes in the sculpting of Earth's surface. Topics include:

  • Quantitative introduction to mechanics of fluvial, hillslope, and glacial processes.
  • Essentials of weathering, soil formation, runoff, erosion, slope stability, sediment transport, river morphology, and glacial erosion.
  • System responses to climatic and tectonic forcings, including: glaciation, sea level change, uplift, subsidence, and post-glacial isostatic rebound.

The course stresses field investigation of geomorphic phenomena and the writing of scientific reports. Additional instruction in: computer modeling (MATLAB®) in the study of surface processes, image analysis, and GIS analysis of digital elevation data.

Format and Level

This course is taught at an advanced level, but open to undergraduates (Junior/Senior level is recommended) as well as graduate students. Expectations will differ for undergraduates. This course meets with graduate subject 12.463, but assignments differ.

Labs and Field Trips

There are 5 labs including a field trip to Mt. Washington, New Hampshire and 2 field trips to Baker River, New Hampshire.


Reports from labs and field trips will be the basis for evaluation for grades in this course.