EAPS Seminars and Special Offerings

Interested in cross registration and need more information? Visit our Cross-Registration page for a summary of useful links.

Spring 2023 | IAP 2023 | FALL 2022 |

PLEASE NOTE:  Subjects listed on this page are being taught under a Special Problems number, used for one time only classes. The title and description that you will see on the Registrar's and pre-registration sites will NOT match what you see here. They will list the general info that applies to all terms and years. Register for the right number, and you will be in the class you want.


Spring 2023

12.571 Seminar in Geophysics

Schedule: Lecture-T, 10-11am; Discussion-M, 10-12; T, 12:30-1:30pm

Level: G

Units: 6

Location: 54-209 lecture; 54-419b discussion

Description: Students will engage with invited speakers on a variety of cutting-edge topics within geophysics. Invited speakers from New England and beyond will come to give seminars every two weeks throughout the semester. Prior to the speaker's visit, students will read papers provided by the speaker so that students can engage with the material before the speaker's visit through student-led discussion. During their visit, speakers will engage with students during both 1:1 meetings and a discussion wit students following the seminar.

Instructor: W. Frank


12.S492 Special Seminar in Geobiology

Schedule: TH, 3:30-5:00pm

Level: G

Units: 6
Location: 54-517

Description: Research in marine geobiology, biogeochemistry and geology requires planning of field activities and targeted sample collection in remote sites.  Students will investigate the microbiological and oceanographic context of an iconic marine site and develop a plan for a week-long field trip to this site to conduct in situ measurements and collect water, sediment and biological samples for chemical and molecular characterization. The class will start by student presentations and discussions of site-relevant literature in seminar format. The students will work together to develop hypotheses that will guide the field campaign. The second half of the course will transition into specific expedition planning, protocol development, training in the use of instruments and preparation of materials and supplies. Participants are expected to spend six hours per week on this class—3 hours per week in class and 3 on the related reading, writing and researching outside of class. Participants will be required to lead at least one in-class discussion and will be evaluated on this and one comprehensive written contribution to the field trip guide. The course will be followed by an optional sampling trip to Shark Bay, Australia in June/July 2023. Interested upper division undergraduates and graduate students please contact the instructors. Enrollment by permission of instructors.

Instructors: A. Babbin and T. Bosak


12.S593: Special Seminar in Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences - Geoengineering of Carbon Sequestration
Schedule: W, 2:30-3:30pm
Level: G
Units: 6
Location: 4-457

Description: Burning fossil fuels and the cement industry adds approximately 30 Gt CO2 per year, and more than half of CO2 stays in the atmosphere. In addition to efficient energy use, carbon capture and storage (CCS) is required to limit the warming to less than 1.5 to 2 degrees. This seminar class will discuss various options for CCS, including storing CO2 in geologic formations, rock mineralization, and ocean alkalinity management for effectiveness and potential hazards. The seminar will be a hybrid with lectures introducing fundamental chemistry and physics and student-led discussions for key papers. There will be a particular focus on the geochemistry and geophysics of mineral carbonation reactions, their rate limits, and potential ways to catalyze the reaction.
Instructors: S. Ono, O. Jagoutz, M. Pec


12.S596/1.S977: Special Seminar in Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences - Computational Earth Science

Schedule: M, 1:00-3:00pm

Level: G

Units: 6, p/d/f
Location: 54-517
Description: This special topic seminar will introduce students to a sampling of current research into
processes that affect the Earth and its habitability using innovative computational or inference methods, under the broad theme of ‘Health of the Planet’. For example, students may read recent papers in the areas of climate, the environment, and natural hazards. The course will provide opportunities to practice communication skills via presentations and group discussions. Though not formally part of the course, there will be opportunities for students to participate in discussions with the author of the manuscripts as part of group or individual meetings.


In the week during which seminar speakers are visiting, the students will read and discuss two papers lead-authored by the speaker.  The manuscripts will be provided at least one week ahead of the speaker visit.  Each student is required to lead discussion during one week of the course.  Students will also attend at least one presentation by the speaker.

Instructors: A. Fiore, S. Amin

IAP 2023

12.S590 Special Seminar in Geophysics: The Energy Transition Challenge for Geosciences
M-F, Jan 9, 10, 11, 12 & 13; 9:30am-12:30pm
Level: G
Location: 56-191
Description: Learn about the role of an earth scientist in the Energy Transition. What is involved in the development of a Carbon Capture & Storage project, a geothermal project, or an oil field?  This subject is set up as a team competition. As a team you will receive a subsurface map, a well profile and other data and we will guide you on a journey that leads to proposing a development plan for these underground energy resources! You will also learn a lot from each other as interim results and insights from all teams are discussed extensively. Participation in the ETC includes lectures covering the basics of subsurface resource development and 2-3 hours of teamwork per day when you put the learned material into practice. There will be ample opportunity for discussion and challenge as we deal with technical trade-offs, with the potential socio-economic dilemmas of developing an industrial scale subsurface energy resource as we embark on the energy transition. You will interpret maps, create production profiles, take on technical and non-technical challenges, and think about the feasibility and risks of subsurface energy projects from both technical, economic, and societal perspectives. You will place the contribution of these projects in the context of the Energy Transition order to get an appreciation of the scope of the tasks that lie ahead of all of us.
Instructor: R. Franssen

Raymond Franssen graduated from Utrecht University, the Netherlands with degrees in Structural Geology and Geophysics (B.Sc. 1980, M.Sc. 1984) and a Ph.D (1993) in Experimental Rock Deformation. He joined Shell in 1989 as a Research Geologist studying the impact of fault and fractures on fluid flow and teaching the basics of Structural Geology. Since 1994 he has worked in exploration and production units across Europe, U.S.A., Asia, and the Middle East in a variety of roles but always with a strong earth science component. Since he left Shell in 2020 he refocuses on the role of geosciences in the Energy Transition. He spends most of the time in the Netherlands and Canada, is married to chef cum editor, and proud father of a budding climate scientist.

12.S597 Seminar on Teaching in Earth Science
Schedule: TTH 2:00-3:00pm
Level: G
Units: 1 [P/D/F]
Location: 4-457
Description: This course will introduce students to pedagogical concepts and strategies for effectively leading a classroom, designing a course, teaching equitably, giving feedback, and other subjects relevant to teaching Earth Science at the university level. By the end of the course, students will be able to discuss and reflect upon these aspects of effective teaching and identify ways to effectively apply them in an Earth Science classroom. Class meetings will center on discussions of pedagogical literature and its relevance and utility to participants’ roles as TAs or instructors, either presently or in the future. This course will cover much of the same information as the Kaufman Teaching Certificate Program and other TLL offerings, but will additionally provide an EAPS-specific lens and space for discussion - students who have participated in these programs are encouraged to attend. The class is geared towards graduate students, but interested department members in other roles are welcome to participate.
Instructor: D. McGee



FALL 2022


12.A32 Cellular Automata: Models of the Earth System

  • Prof. Glenn Flierl

  • Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences

  • Meets: TBA

Cellular automata are like “Life,” only better! Find out how we can use these models and their relatives to study processes important to Earth’s climate: the transport of heat and other properties, the dynamics of ecosystems, the flow of air and water. These models divide the (possibly very complex) spatial domain into “cells” and use rules which say how the “state” of the cell changes depending on its current value and on the values in the neighboring cells. Although they are computationally simple, the results can be fascinatingly complex and chaotic. We will construct and experiment with a variety of models; thinking about rules, programming the models (using Octave/Matlab or python/numpy), and discussions of the results will be required.

Glenn Flierl grew up in Ohio and, of course, became fascinated by the oceans. At least they certainly seemed more interesting than Lake Erie, and physical oceanography appeared to have better job prospects than building sets for Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. A reformed hacker, he now uses computers to help understand the Gulf Stream and ocean vortices.

12.A56 GPS: Where Are You?

Instructor: Prof. Thomas Herring
Meets: M3-4.30 (54-824)

The use of Global Positioning System (GPS) in a wide variety of applications has exploded in the last few years. Hikers, drivers, sailors, and aviators use the system as a navigation aid but many others use GPS in ways that were not considered during its design. Some of the most stringent uses come from meteorology, where the system is used to track water vapor in the atmosphere, and from geophysics, where it is used to measure continental drift, deformation leading up to earthquakes, and mean sea-level rise. In this seminar we explore how positions on the Earth were determined before GPS, how GPS and other Global Navigations Satellites Systems (GNSS) work, and the range of applications in which GPS/GNSS is now a critical element. In this seminar you will explore how to find locations using simple household items (simple, at least by MIT standards). You will use hand held GPS units to hunt for candy around campus and have access to expensive units for use on the top of the tallest building in Cambridge and to write messages that can be can be seen from space. This seminar is followed by an optional UROP in the spring semester where results from precise GPS measurements will be analyzed and displayed on the web.

Thomas Herring is Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences. He uses GNSS to measure millimeter-level motions of the Earth’s surface in many regions around the world, including recently tall buildings, with the long-term aim of understanding earthquakes and other deformation processes. He also studies the Earth’s atmosphere with GPS through the refraction of GPS signals.


12.S083J  Special Seminar in Julia: Solving Real-World Problems with Computation (6.S083J/18.S191J)
Instructor: Edelman (Math), Ferrari (EAPS), Marzouk (AeroAstro), Williams (CEE)
Units: 12 units, Undergraduate

Prerequisite: 6.100A, 18.03, 18.C06
Schedule: TH 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Location: 2-131

Description: Focuses on algorithms and techniques for writing and using modern technical software in a job, lab, or research group environment that may consist of interdisciplinary teams, where performance may be critical, and where the software needs to be flexible and adaptable. Topics include automatic differentiation, matrix calculus, scientific machine learning, parallel and GPU computing, and performance optimization with introductory applications to climate science, economics, agent-based modeling, and other areas. Labs and projects focus on performant, readable, composable algorithms and software. Programming will be in Julia. Expects students have some familiarity with Python, Matlab, or R. No Julia experience necessary.


12.S591 Special Seminar in Geophysics
Instructor: Frank
Units: TBD [P/D/F]
Schedule: T 3:00pm - 5:00pm
Location: 54-209
Description: Overview of classical papers and recent research in geophysics. Fields to be covered include geodesy and earthquake physics (e.g. tectonic earthquakes, induced seismicity, glacial earthquakes). The course will include a reading component (2-3 papers) and student led in class discussion. Every other week, external speakers will give an invited lecture followed by discussion. Students will also have the opportunity to meet with invited speakers throughout the day.The class is geared towards advanced undergraduate and graduate students. Interested faculty, researchers and postdocs are welcome to participate.


12.S592 Special Seminar in Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences
Instructor: Ravela
Units: TBD [P/D/F]
Schedule: F 9:00am - 11:00am
Location: 35-308  
Description: Organized lecture or laboratory subject on an aspect of geophysics not normally covered in regularly scheduled subjects. 12.S590 is letter-graded. Prereq: Permission of instructor.


12.650 Current Topics in Planetary Science
Instructor: J. Wisdom
Units: 12 (Letter Grade)
Schedule: MW 1:00-2:30pm
Location: 54-824
Description: The topic for this term will be the Natural Satellites of the Outer Planets. The natural satellites of the outer planets present a number of mysteries. Some possess subsurfase oceans. How did these oceans arise and how are they maintained? Dissipation in these oceans should have led to the damping of the orbital inclinations and eccentricities, the observed values suggest recent excitation. Surface features of Io, Europa, Ganymede, Tethys, and Ariel suggest recent tidal heating, yet other surfaces, such as those of Mimas and Calisto are ancient. Recently, it has been shown that the satellites of Saturn and Jupiter are evolving away from their planets much more rapidly than was previously expected (perhaps due to 'resonance locking' tides.) This neccessitates a revaluation of their tidal histories. Can we find a consistent explanation?
We will first examine the physical and orbital properties of the satellites, and then review proposed explanations for anomalous characteristics. We will then re-examine these scenarios in light of the observed rapid tidal of the satellite orbits. The format of the class is to read and discuss important/significant papers. Typically, we will read 1 or 2 papers per class. Some papers may require more time.


12.S680 - Exoplanet Atmospheres
Instructor: S. Seager
Units: 6 (Letter Grade)
Schedule: T 9:00am - 10:30am
Location: 54-517
Description: This is a project-based class where each student will choose a research project in exoplanet atmospheres to complete during the course. Instruction will cover fundamentals needed to pursue the research project, possibly including transmission, reflection, and emission spectroscopy, molecular cross sections, equilibrium chemistry, 1D temperature structure, cloud formation, and telescope noise. Students will gain a working knowledge of exoplanet atmospheres as well as a practical set of computer simulation tools via publicly available codes.

12.950 - Seminar in Physical Oceanography
Instructor: TBD
Units: 6 (Letter Grade)
Schedule: TBD
Location: TBD
Description: Students who register for the course will lead the class discussion (each student will lead about twice during the semester) by presenting the research article or topic of discussion. Everyone in the class will read the articles (1 or 2 per week) and participate in the discussion. At the end of the semester, each student will write a research proposal (<5 pages) on a topic for future study, highlighting some new or unexplored question on submesoscale processes.