Studies of natural phenomena are informed by models that are best idealized to be simple enough to understand, yet sufficiently comprehensive to hold explanatory power. Major challenges arise in the geological sciences because the features of interest are often generated by processes that vary in their relative importance over large ranges in distance and time. Nevertheless, to build intuition models are often based on simple one-dimensional treatments and employ averaging techniques to account approximately for heterogeneities and variations. This seminar class explores some of the physical mechanisms that can cause such assumptions to fail — particularly in the broadly defined field of "geological fluid mechanics''.

The tentative schedule below lists a series of proposed discussion topics, along with preliminary ideas for the assigned readings. Where practical, these are designed to complement the main departmental seminar series so the names of the speakers and their talk titles or anticipated topics are provided. We will each be responsible for reading all assigned material, extracting the essential messages, and being prepared to contribute to every discussion session. While this is primarily a seminar class, where necessary time will be taken to go over background concepts and work through related example problems.

Tentative Schedule (both readings and topics are likely to change up until a week or two before advertised):

Week 1: Motivation and background. Week 2: Gas flow through water-saturated sediments. Week 3: More fingering and fracture. Week 4: Diapirs, mixing. Week 5: Melting and Freezing. Week 6: Thermal–mechanical instabilities. Week 7: Caldera-forming eruptions. Week 8: Reactive transport; Greenland ice sheet. Week 9: Vug Waves. Week 10: Wrap-up.