EEPS 2910H: Geophysics of the Inner Solar System

Instructor:                    Alex Evans

Lincoln Field 301,, x3-1287

Course Website: 

Time and Location:       T/Th 10:30am-11:50am in MacMillan Hall 101

This graduate level course will survey the current state of knowledge for geophysical processes and mechanisms related to the formation and evolution of terrestrial bodies within the inner Solar System. The course will apply fundamental science concepts in physics and chemistry to examine key topics within planetary geophysics, including planet-wide magma oceans, planetary collisions and impacts, volcanism, tectonics, and magnetism. Course is formatted to allow for lecture content and presentation and discussion of relevant themes and concepts. No prior background in the geological sciences is required.

Date Topic Reading Assignments Notes
Thu, 06-Sep 2018 Introduction;
Lecture on Planet Formation/Knowledge/Structure
Jacobsen (2003)
Tue, 11-Sep 2018 Differentiation I Spohn (1991)
Thu, 13-Sep 2018 Differentiation II Hillgren et al. (1994)
Tue, 18-Sep 2018 Magma Ocean I Elkins-Tanton (2012)
Thu, 20-Sep 2018 Magma Ocean II Vander Kaaden and McCubbin (2015)
Tue, 25-Sep 2018 Lecture: Spherical Harmonics I Stevenson (2003)
Thu, 27-Sep 2018 Lecture: Spherical Harmonics II Johnson et al. (2015)
Tue, 02-Oct 2018 Core Dynamo/Magnetic Field I No reading assignment
Thu, 04-Oct 2018 Lecture on Gravity, Crust I; No reading assignment MATLAB Code 
Tue, 09-Oct 2018 Lecture on Gravity, Crust II;
Structuring a good question;
Magmatism/Volcanism I
Andrews-Hanna et al. (2013)
Thu, 11-Oct 2018 Mantle Thermochemical Evolution I Smrekar et al. 2018 -PS1 Guidance
-PS1 available
Example Questions and Answers
Tue, 16-Oct 2018 Lecture on Mantle Convection;
Mantle Thermochemical Evolution II
Tosi et al. (2013)
Thu, 18-Oct 2018 Lecture; Gravity Konopliv et al. (2006) [Sections 1 – 3.3.1]
Tue, 23-Oct 2018 Crust I Wieczorek et al. (2013) -Mid-Semester Course Review
-Review of Discussion Leader Best Practices
Thu, 25-Oct 2018 Crust II James et al. (2013)
Tue, 30-Oct 2018 Lecture; Impacts Osinski and Pierazzo (2012)
Thu, 01-Nov 2018 Fracturing/Porosity Soderblom et al. (2015)
Tue, 06-Nov 2018 Flexure/Loading Evans et al. (2010)
Thu, 08-Nov 2018 Lecture Deformation I; Tectonics I Banerdt et al. (1992) PS1 due;
PS2 available
Tue, 13-Nov 2018 Lecture Deformation II; Tectonics II Schultz (2000)
Thu, 15-Nov 2018 Lecture Deformation III; Creep and Relaxation I Mohit and Phillips (2006) Submit final project topic for approval
Tue, 20-Nov 2018 Lecture Deformation IV; Creep and Relaxation II Parmentier and Zuber (2007)
Thu, 22-Nov 2018 No Class – Thanksgiving Recess No Reading Assignment
Tue, 27-Nov 2018 Venus I Bindschadler (1995)
Thu, 29-Nov 2018 Venus II Smrekar et al. (2007) PS2 Due
Tue, 04-Dec 2018 Magmatism Head and Wilson (2016)
Thu, 06-Dec 2018 Presentations No Reading Assignment Final Projects Due
Tue, 11-Dec 2018 No Class – Reading Period No Reading Assignment

Course Grading/Requirements

    For each paper reading assignment, a one-page summary is due at the beginning of class on the day of discussion. Late summaries will not be accepted, but each student is allowed to not submit up to three paper summaries without penalty.
  • Type of paper (review vs. research) must be listed in header.
  • An estimate of the total time spent reading the paper must be provided in the header.
  • A few (2–3) sentences must be included that summarizes each section of the paper. Copying sentences from the paper is not allowed. Neatness, organization, and grammar will count towards grade.
    Each student will be assigned to lead the discussion for one or more papers. During this paper discussion, the discussion leader should try not to just go through the paper in order. The goal is to focus the discussion on alternative points of view and discussion topics that arise from the paper. Discussion leaders for each assignment can be found here.
  2. PROBLEM SETS (20%)
    There will be two problem sets throughout the semester. For each problem set, students will provide both the questions and the answers. Each problem set will cover a different set of the course topics discussed throughout the course. Late problem sets will be reduced in grade by 10% for every day overdue. This is not a collaborative exercise!
    Students are expected to actively participate in the class discussions, and answer questions posed by the instructor on the day of lectures.
  4. FINAL PROJECT (20%)
    At the end of the semester, each student will give a short presentation on a topic of their choice that is related to one of the course topics covered earlier in the semester. The topic may be related to their research and must be approved by instructor prior to specified syllabus date.
    The rules for the presentations are as follows:
  • Each presentation will be limited to 15 minutes with 3 minutes allotted for questions. The format of the presentation (i.e., slides, chalk talk, podcast, video, etc) is up to the presenter and use of the Brown Multimedia Labs are encouraged.
  • Presenter is expected to acknowledge differing hypotheses.
  • Each presentation must include one flaw or error, introduced on purpose by the presenter. The error/flaw should be something the class can readily identify (i.e., not an erroneous error bar or data point on plot).
  • During each presentation, each student will be expected to identify and record the flaw from each presentation as well as the flaw introduced into their presentation. This is not a collaborative exercise!
  • Each student must ask at least one critical question for each full presentation day.
    Brown University is committed to full inclusion of all students. Please inform me early in the term if you have a disability or other conditions that might require accommodations or modification of any of these course procedures. You may speak with me after class or during office hours. For more information, please contact Student and Employee Accessibility Services at 401-863-9588 or Students in need of short-term academic advice or support can contact one of the deans in the Dean of the College office.
    Where not specifically prohibited above, students may work and collaborate on their assignments. However, all students must hand in own work – distinct from and independent of classmates’ work. If a student does work collaboratively, the student must provide the list of names of the people that he/she worked with on their assignment. If you know you are going to miss an assignment deadline and believe you should not be penalized, you must contact me prior to the assignment deadline.