This introductory course is intended for those who are curious about how gravity, plate tectonics, climate and now humans are shaping our Western Canadian landscapes from the Rockies to the Plains to the gravel in our river valley. Alberta’s array of land features and rock types are a product of both ancient and modern processes – some catastrophic and others that slowly unfold. We’ll review the ancient origins of the planet, its continents and oceans, and then discuss modern surface processes – erosion and sedimentation, earthquakes and Ice Ages, volcanoes and tsunamis, human settlement, agriculture and petroleum extraction during the Anthropocene Period (since 1950). Environmental responses include rising sea level, floods, climate change, diminishing soils and fresh water. The course will be presented through PowerPoint, stories, photos, videos and class discussion.
Brian Sawyer has taught many Earth and Environmental Science courses at the University of Alberta. He moved to Edmonton from Victoria to complete his MSc and recently retired after 15 years at Alberta Environment and Parks.