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 2020 | FALL 2019 |

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.


12.091/12.S593 What drives long-term climate variations?
Instructors: O. Jagoutz and D. McGee
Units: 2-0-4 P/F
Schedule: W 2-4pm, 54-517
Prerequisites: None. Intended for upper-level undergraduates, graduate students and postdocs; undergraduates who have taken 12.001 or 12.003 will get more from the seminar.

In this seminar we will explore the driving forces for climate variations on long geological timescales. The seminar is a combination of students presenting selected papers and researchers presenting their own work in these areas.

Topics to be discussed include:

  • Driving forces for long-term changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide: What processes control the atmospheric carbon dioxide level? It has been postulated that either variations in carbon sources (volcanism, metamorphism, organic carbon) or sinks (enhanced chemical weathering, organic carbon burial) drive atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, yet both are controlled by tectonic processes. So how do tectonic processes affect these sources and sinks? What is the role of plate motions and volcanism in shifting Earth’s climate between greenhouse and icehouse states? How can different hypotheses be tested?
  • Tectonics and ocean/atmospheric circulation: How did changes in ocean gateways (Drake passage, Central American seaway, Tethyan seaway, Maritime continent) alter ocean circulation, and what effects did these circulation changes have on global climate? What were the impacts of uplift (Tibet, western North America, Andes) and plate motions (supercontinent formation, growth of an equatorial Maritime continent) on atmospheric circulation? How can model experiments and data help us explore these questions?
  • Climate and weathering: What changes in globally-averaged weathering and landscape evolution have accompanied the decreasing mean global temperature and increased climate variability of the last 5 million years?


Classes will revolve around discussion with short lectures as necessary. Students that take the class for credit are required to present papers and lead discussions for one class session.

12.S493 Molecular Biogeochemistry Seminnar
Instructor: Roger Summons
Schedule: M 2-4pm, E25-605

Evaluation: Evaluation for 12.S493 will be continuous 100% for weekly participation in the class discussion.

Content: Detailed surveys and critiques of current literature on topics of particular interest to current EAPS Geobioologists. Depending on individual interests we will choose from:

Potential Topics:

  • Weird biomarker reports
  • Biomarkers over the Precambrian-Cambrian transition & advent of complex life
  • Biomarkers for processes taking place during Oceanic Anoxic Events
  • Lipid biomarkers as tools for archeological and prehistory investigations
  • Biosynthetic pathways; biomarker relationships to physiology and phylogeny
  • Biomarker taphonomy
  • Pigment biomarker analysis and interpretation
  • Advanced analytical techniques to study lipid biomarkers

FALL 2019

12.S592 Machine Learning Foundations with Systems Science: Deep Learning Edition
Schedule:  F 10am - noon, 54-1623
Teaches Machine Learning Foundations with application to Science and Engineering, using a distinct approach that arises from its intricate connection to Dynamics and Optimization. The topics covered are divided into preparatory, core and advanced material that pedagogically complement other courses offered at the Institute and elsewhere. Preparatory material is covered every term. Core material is covered in round-robin fashion. Select topics are covered by participant interest. Currently, we are studying the myriad aspects of Deep Learning with application to the Earth, Planets, Climate and Life. 

Participants typically undertake a project or finish PSETs and participation has extended across terms in the past to cycle through core material.  In addition to lectures, participants of this course also have access to Machine Learning consultation for incorporating ML algorithms and thinking in their work using a fairly strong pool emerging from prior years. Come join a rapidly growing peer group in this exciting area of Science and Computing.  For more information, please visit: http://essg.mit.edu/ml
Instructor: Ravela