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College of Sciences


Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences




OEAS Graduate Courses

  • 402/502. Field Experiences in Oceanography for Teachers.
    Lecture 2 hours; field experience 2 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisites:  background in K-12 Education. Field and laboratory experiences in oceanography including hands-on experience using equipment and methods suitable for middle and secondary education professionals. Course will provide understanding of oceanic processes using simple field and laboratory experiments.  Not available for credit for OEAS majors.

  • 403W/503. Aquatic Pollution.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisites: at least two semesters of one of the following: BIOL 115N-116N, CHEM 115N-116N, OEAS 111N-112N, PHYS 111N-112N, OEAS 106N-107N or 126N-127N. This course will present basic ecological principles relevant to water pollution and toxicology. Topics will cover runoff, eutrophication, sewage treatment, industrial waste, oil pollution, pesticides, and plastics in the sea. Case studies provide focal points for consideration of issues in making decisions and setting policy.

  • 404/504. Environmental Physiology of Marine Animals.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisite: OEAS 306 or BIOL 331. Functional morphology and physiological aspects of growth and ecological energetics of marine animals. Basic concepts and habitat comparisons.

  • 405/505. Physical Oceanography.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisites or better in: MATH 211 and either PHYS 232N or two semesters of hydraulics. Physics of the ocean: properties of seawater and their distribution; water mass formation; mass and energy flows; waves; tides; models; estuarine and coastal processes. An elective for science and engineering majors.

  • 406/506. Matlab.
    Lecture 1 hour; 1 credit. Prerequisite: C or better in MATH 211 or permission of instructor. Course is designed to introduce students to Matlab programming and to develop skills utilizing this program for data analysis.

  • 408/508. Introductory Soils.
    Lecture 3 hours; laboratory 2 hours; 4 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 115N-116N. Nature and properties of soils. Physical and chemical processes in soils and their influence on plant growth, the movement of water, and pollutants. Importance of soil properties in determining urban, industrial and agricultural uses.

  • 410/510. Chemical Oceanography.
    Lecture 3 hours; laboratory 3 hours; 4 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 115N-116N, OEAS 306 or consent of instructor. Chemical composition of the ocean and the chemical, biological, geological and physical processes controlling it. Laboratory experiments include determination of salinity, oxygen, and nutrients, and a field sampling trip is undertaken.

  • 411/511. Structural Geology.
    Lecture 3 hours; laboratory 2 hours; 4 credits. Prerequisite: OEAS 320 or permission of instructor. Recognition, habitat, and origin of deformed geologic structures. Relationships between structural patterns and tectonic settings. Laboratory sessions emphasize cartographic and stereographic projections, map interpretation, and hand sample evaluation. Weekend field trip required.

  • 412/512. Global Environmental Change.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisites: OEAS 306 and 310. An examination of the development of the earth as a habitable planet, from its origin to human impacts on global biogeochemical cycles on land, and in the oceans and atmosphere.

  • 413/513. Environmental Geochemistry.
    Lecture 2 hours; laboratory 2 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 115N-116N and OEAS 313. Low temperature geochemistry of surface and near-surface materials and processes. Weathering and the geochemical cycle as influenced by environment.

  • 414/514. Coastal Landscape and Ecology.
    Lecture 1 hour; laboratory 4 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisite: OEAS 306 and 310. Principles of coastal landscape formation based on classical and modern theories. Geotechnical characteristics and plant habitats at elements of coastal landscapes. Field trips.

  • 415/515. Waves and Tides.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisites or better in: MATH 212 and PHYS 232N or permission of the instructor. Causes, nature, measurement and analysis of water waves and tides. Mathematical and graphical application to wave and tide problems.

  • 418/518. Chemical Limnology.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisite: OEAS 306. Chemical cycling in lakes and reservoirs, and interactions with biological and physical processes; quantitative modeling of lake geochemistry.

  • 419/519. Spatial Analysis of Coastal Environments.
    Lecture 1.5 hours; laboratory 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisites: OEAS 414/514 and GEOG 404/504. The course integrates remotely sensed and field techniques for scientific investigation and practical management of coastal environmental systems. Spatial modeling of coastal processes and management tools using geographic information system (GIS).

  • 420/520. Hydrogeology.
    Lecture 2 hours; laboratory 2 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisites: OEAS 320, MATH 211, PHYS 111N-112N or 231N-232N, or permission of the instructor. Topics covered will include the occurrence and movement of surface and subsurface water, the nature and distribution of permeable rocks and strata, field techniques used in ground-water studies, and the flow of ground-water to wells.

  • 426/526. Concepts in Oceanography for Teachers. 
    3 credits. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of the instructor. This web-based course will provide a practical introduction to oceanography for earth science teachers. It is particularly aimed at current science teachers attempting to become certified in earth science education. Topics will include discussions of geological, biological, physical and chemical oceanography. Not available for credit for OEAS majors.
  • 430/530. Introduction to Geophysics.
      Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisites: OEAS 111N, Math 211, and Phys 11N/112N or 231N/232N. Pre- or corequisite: PHYS 112N or 232N.  Introduction to the physics of the earth, including plate tectonics, volcanism, earthquakes, and seismology, gravity, the earth's magnetic field, geophysical remote sensing, and mantle convection.

  • 431/531. Sedimentary Petrology.
    Lecture 2 hours; laboratory 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisite: OEAS 320. The chemical aspects of sediments and sedimentary rock needed for modern geologic and oceanographic studies. Optical petrology and x-ray diffraction are emphasized in the laboratory with particular attention to clay mineralogy. Field trip required.

  • 440/540. Biological Oceanography.
    Lecture 3 hours; laboratory 2 hours; 4 credits. Prerequisites: OEAS 106N-107N, 126N-127N or 306. Marine organisms and their relationship to physical and chemical processes in the ocean. Laboratory study of local marine organisms, marine ecosystem and sampling techniques. Includes identification, data analysis and field trips.

  • 446/546. Quaternary Geology.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisite: OEAS 344W. Geological effects of Cenozoic climate changes and tectonic movements on marine and terrestrial systems. Weekend field trips to study landscapes and deposits in the coastal plain and Appalachian provinces.

  • 448/548. Population Ecology.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisite: MATH 211. This course uses conceptual and mathematical models to understand how populations grow and persist in space and time. Both plants and animals are discussed.

  • 451/551. Data Collection and Analysis in Oceanography.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisites: OEAS 306, 310 and MATH 211-212, or graduate standing in OEAS. Course introduces students to the basic physical oceanographic tools used to obtain and analyze information. Students use various oceanographic instruments to obtain data at different locations in Chesapeake Bay. Data obtained are processed and analyzed using data analysis techniques discussed in class. The data will then be used to answer a particular question related to the temporal and spatial variability in a natural system..

  • 495/595. Special Topics.
    Lectures, field and laboratory studies; 1-4 credits each semester. Prerequisites: junior standing and permission of the instructor. An investigation of a selected problem in physical, geological, chemical, or biological oceanography.

  • 603. Geobiology and Biosedimentology.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Geobiology and biosedimentology reflect the interdisciplinary approach to environmental problems, questions related to Earth history, and the exploration of extraterrestrial worlds. The course elaborates our understanding of geobiology and biosedimentology by conducting a study on benthic cyanobacteria and their influences on sedimentary processes in marine environments. Study area is Fisherman's Island, located close to Norfolk, VA. The course includes aspects of astrobiology (the "sister of geobiology"), and discusses the evolution of life on Earth.

  • 604. Introduction to Physical Oceanography.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Introduction to descriptive and dynamical physical oceanography. Properties of sea water; distribution of temperature, salinity and density; water, salt, and heat budgets; techniques for describing the ocean; circulation and water masses of the world's oceans and coastal waters.

  • 606. Experimental Procedures in Physical Oceanography.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Provides basic knowledge for conducting field experiments in physical oceanography. Fundamentals of experimental design and sampling theory. Standard methods of data reduction, analysis, and reporting.

  • 610. Advanced Chemical Oceanography.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits.  Chemical properties of seawater; chemical composition of the ocean including major and trace elements, dissolved gases, micronutrient elements, and organic compounds; processes controlling this composition.

  • 611. Chemical Oceanography Laboratory.
    Laboratory 6 hours; 3 credits. Basic analytical chemistry of seawater; field work in chemical oceanography.

  • 612. Marine Geochemistry.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisite: OEAS 610 or permission of the instructor. Processes governing the chemical composition of the ocean. Riverine input; air-sea exchange; sediment-bottom water exchange; hydrothermal input; internal cycling by physical processes; numerical modeling in chemical oceanography.

  • 613. Geochemistry of Marine Sediments.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisites: OEAS 610, 612. An introduction to the geochemistry of marine sediments, with an emphasis on nutrient (C,N,P,S) and trace element cycling in marine sediments.

  • 614. Chemical Oceanography in the Coastal Environment.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisite: OEAS 610 or permission of the instructor. Chemical dynamics within water and sediments of estuaries, salt marshes, and the continental shelf; river-sea, air-sea, and sediment-water interactions; modeling techniques.

  • 616. Advanced Chemical Oceanography Laboratory.
    Lecture 1 hour; laboratory 6 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisite: OEAS 611. Analysis of trace constituents in marine waters, sediments, and sediment porewaters; sampling techniques; field experience.

  • 620. Advanced Geological Sciences.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Survey of marine and terrestrial geology and geophysics; plate tectonics and basin formation; sediments and sediment dynamics; depositional environments and depositional systems; stratigraphy and basin analysis.

  • 622. Wetland Hydrology.
    Lecture 2 hours; laboratory 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisites: OEAS 111N and MATH 163 or permission of the instructor. Hydrologic criteria used to delineate wetlands. Techniques used to calculate components of water budgets for non-tidal wetlands. Many lab exercises will require extensive field work in wetlands.

  • 625. Marine Sedimentary Environments.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisites: OEAS 620. Attributes of marine sediments; main sedimentary facies zones in marine and coastal environments (deep sea, shelf, tidal flats, lagoons, barrier islands); modern depositional systems versus ancient depositional systems; reefs (brachiopoda, corals, sponges, foraminifers, etc); traces and trace fossils.

  • 630. Dynamical Oceanography I.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisites: OEAS 604 and MATH 691. Dynamics of rotating, stratified fluids, geostrophic adjustment, potential vorticity, Ekman layers, gravity waves, and large scale ocean circulation.

  • 634. Applied Clay Mineralogy.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. The study of clay minerals and colloids and the application of their physical and chemical properties to various geologic, agricultural, and environmental problems. Special emphasis is given to ion exchange and sorption problems involving clays under various conditions. Techniques of semiquantitative analysis of clay minerals and the alteration of their chemical physical properties are emphasized.

  • 640. Advanced Biological Oceanography.
    Lecture 3 hours, laboratory 2 hours; 4 credits. Marine organisms and their interactions with the physical and chemical environments of the sea; primary production, population ecology, nutrition, reproduction, and marine biogeography.  Includes associated laboratory component.

  • 644. Environmental Physiology of Marine Animals.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisite: OEAS 640 or equivalent. Physiological and biochemical adaptations of marine animals in stable and changing environments. Topics include foraging, respiration growth and reproductive strategies in diverse marine habitats.

  • 651. Introduction to Physics of Estuaries.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisite: OEAS 604. This course considers the physical oceanography of estuaries. In particular, it explores how circulation and mixing in estuaries are influenced by atmospheric forcing, tidal forcing, coastal influences and bathymetric variability. Topics to be treated include classification of estuaries, typical steady dynamical balances, transport of salt and other quantities, mixing, and time-space scales of variability.

  • 667. Cooperative Education. 
    1-3 credits (may be repeated for credit). Prerequisite: approval by the department and Career Management in accordance with the policy for granting credit for Cooperative Education programs. Available for pass/fail grading only. Student participation for credit based on the academic relevance of the work experience, criteria, and evaluative procedures as formally determined by the department and Career Management prior to the semester in which the work experience is to take place.

  • 669. Internship in Oceanography. 
    1-3 credits. Prerequisite: permission of the department.

  • 690. Topics in Marine Environmental Policy.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. This course will give students a working understanding of how science policy decisions are made by governments and how science and technology impact public policy. This course seeks to integrate current policy/legislative initiatives with the underlying scientific issues in order to raise the student's appreciation for and understanding of the various influences that affect the decision-making process. In particular, the course will look at how science influences policy and assess the "state of the science" relative to the issues at stake.

  • 691. Seminar. 
    One semester required; 1 credit. Techniques for presenting scientific data at professional meetings and seminars. Practical experience and feedback.

  • 695. Special Topics in Oceanography. 
    1-3 credits each semester. An advanced investigation in a selected problem in physical, geological, chemical, or biological oceanography under the direction of the faculty of the Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

  • 696. Selected Topics. 
    1-3 credits. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

  • 698. Research. 
    Any semester; hours to be arranged; variable credit. 1-9 credits per semester. M.S.-level research.

  • 699. Thesis. 
    Any semester; hours to be arranged; variable credit. 1-9 credits per semester. M.S.-level work primarily devoted to the writing of the thesis.

  • 703/803. Stability of Ocean Flow.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisites: calculus, differential equations, geo-physical fluid dynamics. A study of the basic ideas and methods used to examine the stability of ocean currents. Topics include fundamentals, barotropic and baroclinic instability, wave packets and energy balance.

  • 704/804. Time Series in Oceanography.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisite: calculus. A study of the basic techniques used to model and analyze time series of oceanographic data. These include temporal spatial and frequency/wave number domain techniques.

  • 708/808. Simulation Techniques for Ocean Circulation.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisites: OEAS 604, 630 and 730, and knowledge of a computer program language (FORTRAN preferred). Emphasis is on the construction of working ocean models, both vorticity-stream function and primitive equation models analyzed, mostly finite difference techniques, implicit and explicit schemes, staggered grids, discussion of ocean general circulation models.

  • 711/811. Regional Oceanography.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisite: OEAS 604. The regional oceanography of the major ocean basins, marginal seas, and coastal oceans. Seasonal and interannual variability. Heat and salt cycles.

  • 723/823. Ocean Turbulence and Mixing Processes.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisites: OEAS 630 and 730/830. This course will first provide a broad background in the concepts, theories and semi-analytical techniques used to describe turbulent motions and their effects in fluids. The various observational techniques that are presently used to measure turbulence in the ocean will be explored.

  • 730/830. Dynamical Oceanography II.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisite: OEAS 630. Dynamics of rotating stratified fluids. Inertial waves, equatorial dynamics, coastal dynamics, dynamic instability.

  • 732/832. Advanced Geochemistry of Marine Sediments.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisites: OEAS 610, 612, 613. Advanced topics in the geochemistry of marine sediments, with an emphasis on mathematical modeling of sedimentary geochemical processes.
  • 735. Paleoclimatology.  Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits.  Prerequisites: OEAS 604, 610, 620.  This course focuses on the causes (forcings) of climate change; natural response time of the climate system; interactions and feedbacks; and the geologic record in climate change.
  • 741/841. Fisheries Science.
    Lecture 4 hours; 4 credits.  An introduction to the major questions in the management of marine fisheries: abundance, estimation, distribution, recruitment and optimum yield. Topics are presented within the context of fisheries management, marine productivity and population ecology, all of which shape the direction of the primary literature.

  • 743/843. Applied Methods of Fisheries.
    Lecture 2 hours; laboratory 4 hours; 4 credits. Prerequisite: OEAS 744/844. Practice, principles and theory of applied methods in fisheries. Sampling and data collection tools, practice, and theory. Principles and theory of age determination, estimation of abundance, reproductive biology, marking and tagging, and mark-recapture. Special topics as necessary.

  • 744/844. Fisheries Management.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Quantitative methods for the description and management of fisheries. Analytical and empirical forecasting models used to study case histories of managed fish stocks. Case studies of poorly and well managed stocks.

  • 747/847. Reproduction and Larval Ecology of Marine Invertebrates.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisite: OEAS 640. Topics include the evolution of reproductive strategies, maturation, behavior, larval ecology, and recruitment.

  • 755/855. Mathematical Modeling of Marine Ecosystems.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisites: calculus, differential equations, OEAS 604 and 640. This course is focused on the theory and techniques of mathematical model development for marine ecosystems. The course is designed to provide an understanding of how to parameterize interaction among components of marine food webs and interaction of food web components with physical environments.

  • 764/864. Coastal Sedimentology.
    Lecture 2 hours; laboratory 2 hours; 3 credits. Sedimentary processes in different coastal zones will be described: carbonate, evaporitic, and clastic depositional systems.  We will conduct a small research project along the coast of Virginia.  Field trip required.
  • 765/865. Marine Biogeochemistry.
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisites: OEAS 610, 640. This class will focus on biologically mediated elemental cycling in aquatic systems. Assimilatory and dissimilatory biological processes involving auto- and heterotrophic organisms frequently mediate elemental cycling of these elements. Inorganic compounds and dissolved and particulate organic material will be discussed in terms of their biological reactivity and turnover times in aquatic systems and their contribution to elemental cycling on a variety of temporal and spatial scales. Also included is the issue of how community structure and function alter biogeochemical cycles.

  • 770/870. Aquatic Photosynthesis.
    Lecture 3 hours; laboratory 3 hours; 4 credits. This course examines the physics, chemistry, biology and ecology of photosynthesis by aquatic organisms. Topics include light harvesting, energy transfer, carbon metabolism and biosynthesis and their ecological consequences.

  • 772/872. Aquatic Optics.
    Lecture 3 hours; laboratory 3 hours; 4 credits. The course covers the physics of light transmission through the aquatic medium as affected by scattering and absorption, the optical properties of seawater, suspended particles of living cells, underwater vision and ocean color.

  • 795/895. Advanced Topics in Oceanography. 
    1-3 credits each semester. An advanced investigation of a selected problem in physical, geological, chemical, or biological oceanography under the direction of the faculty of the Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

  • 800. Survival Skills for Scientists.  
    Seminar 1 credit, P/F. Seminar class each fall and spring that will address a series of topics to improve student success as scientists. 

  • 840. Plankton Dynamics. 
    Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits.  Prerequisite: OEAS 640. This course emphasizes the ecology of heterotrophic plankton from bacteria to protists, from metazoan invertebrate plankton to fish larvae.  Students will explore the role of plankton groups and species in the context of pelagic ecosystems.  Planktonic processes are not only relevant for the ocean ecosystem but also for fisheries, aquaculture, environmental and human health, and global climate.  The course consists of lectures, discussion groups on selected reading material, and laboratory demonstrations.

  • 869. Internship in Oceanography. 
    1-3 credits. Prerequisite: permission of the department.

  • 898. Doctoral Research. 
    Any semester; hours to be arranged; variable credit, 1-9 credits per semester. Ph.D.-level research.

  • 899. Dissertation. 
    Any semester; hours to be arranged; variable credit, 1-9 credits per semester. Ph.D.-level work primarily devoted to the writing of the dissertation.