Emile A. Okal

Over my 31 years at Northwestern, I have taught the following classes, many in alternation with my colleagues. The next classes to be offered (Spring, 2016) are highlighted in red; those presently taught (Fall, 2015) in green.

103 - Geological Hazards
The class examines hazards to mankind and infrastructure from a series of natural sources, namely Earthquakes, Landslides, Volcanoes, Tsunamis, Hurricanes and Tornadoes. We discuss the specific origin of the hazards, as well as means of warning and mitigation. The 2004 Sumatra and 2011 Tohoku tsunamis, and Hurricanes Katrina (2005) and Sandy (2012) are studied in detail, as well as results from the 2010 Haiti and Chile earthquakes.

107 - Plate tectonics; The new view of the Earth
Evidence for drift of continents and spreading of sea floor; pattern of modern motions; history of drifting. Relation of continental drift to earthquakes, great faults, volcanism, mountains, and nature of the Earth's interior.

110 - Introduction to the Solar System
Origin of the solar system, Formation of the planets and their moons through accretion and differentiation. The Earth in the context of its planetary neighbors.

B 02 - The Earth's Interior
Solid Earth geophysics: the Earth's gravity field, the Earth's magnetic field, interior of the Earth, heat flow, elementary wave propagation, the age of the Earth.

350 [ex 315] - Physics of the Earth
The course takes a somewhat historical approach to the question: "How do we know the structure of the Earth's interior, and how did we use Classical Physics to acquire this knowledge?", starting with Eratosthenes' estimate of the Earth's radius, covering Gravity, Seismology, Geothermics, Magnetism and Radioactivity, and ending with present theories about mantle convection in the framework of Plate Tectonics.
(Special to the ISP program.)

C24 - Seismology and Earth Structure
Elastic theory, seismic waves, seismometers and seismograms; ray paths, travel times; internal structure of the Earth; earthquakes: location, characteristics, mechanism and relation to plate motions.

320 [ex 325] - Plate Tectonics
"Everything you have always wanted to know about Plate Tectonics, but were afraid to ask"
The basic elements of the Plate Tectonics paradigm are explored in individual chapters, including: The Mid-Oceanic Ridge. The Transform Fault. The Magnetic Anomaly. The aging oceanic lithosphere. The subduction zone system. The Hotspot Island. The Kinematic Model. The Convection System.
The class emphasizes how fundamental knowledge was acquired, and which controversies persist to this day.

D38 - Advanced Topics in Geophysics
Topics include tectonophysics, the bodily structure of the Earth, and geodynamics. May be repeated for credit with change in topic.

D50 - Advanced Topics in the Geological Sciences
Credit for more than one quarter. Various topics at the frontiers of research in the geological sciences taught by visiting faculty or members of the department on an occasional basis. May be repeated for credit with change in topic.

462 - Advanced Topics in Seismology
Topics include earthquake source models, normal modes of the Earth, body wave synthesis methods, surface wave methods, observational techniques in seismology, or other current research. May be repeated for credit with change in topic.