Spring 2021 - EASC 106 D100

Earth Through Time (3)

Class Number: 1867

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo, We, Fr 4:30 PM – 5:20 PM



An introduction to the changes that the Earth has experienced, from its initial formation to the present day, intended for non-majors. Topics include changes in plate tectonic style, mountain building periods, glaciations during Earth history, formation of life, the fossil record and evolution, major extinctions, and the rise of man. Students may not take EASC 106 for credit towards EASC major or minor program requirements. Breadth-Science.


EASC 106 is an introduction to the 4.6 billion year history of Earth, from its initial formation to the present day. This fascinating story traces the geological and biological events that make up our planet's past, and are recorded in the rock record. We begin with acquiring basic geological knowledge, including rocks and minerals, plate tectonics, fossil preservation, the geologic time scale and both relative and absolute age dating (putting an order to geologic events, and their respective ages). Once we have all that in our back pocket, then we start our stroll through geologic time, beginning with the accretion of the planet nearly 4.6 billion years ago. Highlights include the formation of supercontinents (Rodinia and Pangea), the first metazoans (large soft-bodied life) at the end of the Precambrian, the Cambrian “explosion” of complex life, and Earth’s great mass extinction events, including the dinosaur-ending asteroid impact at the end of the Cretaceous (extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs that is).

Course Topics:
  1. Introduction to Earth system history; relative age dating - putting geologic events in sequential order by applying stratigraphic principles
  2. Minerals, rocks and the rock cycle
  3. Deep time and the Geologic Time Scale
  4. The fossil record and biological classification
  5. Continental Drift and Plate Tectonics
  6. Precambrian Earth: origin of cratons and the first supercontinents; the early atmosphere; earliest prokaryotes, eukaryotes, and metazoans
  7. Paleozoic Earth, its life forms and mass extinctions: supercontinent Pangea
  8. Mesozoic Earth its life forms (including the origin of dinosaurs and mammals): breakup of Pangea, mass extinction events
  9. Cenozoic Earth and the era of the mammals: grasslands appear and the co-evolution of grazing mammals, the Pleistocene Ice Age, human evolution
  10. The Anthropocene – the human impact on Earth

Course Organization: The Spring 2021 offering of EASC 106 is via remote instruction. We will be using the Canvas platform where you will download PDFs of the lecture PowerPoint slides and annotate these notes while listening to the lecture recording.

  • Lectures are scheduled as SYNCHRONOUS. However, as all lectures are recorded, students can listen and review them at any time.
  • Lecture exams (tests) are SYNCHRONOUS. Tests are scheduled during the 50-minute lecture period. Please refer to the course schedule for dates. Students must be available to complete the tests during the scheduled times.


  • Assignments submitted online 25%
  • Test 1 25%
  • Test 2 25%
  • Test 3 25%
  • *Subject to change



Access to high-speed internet


Course E-Text: (or physical copy)

“Visualizing Earth History”; Babcock, L.E., Wiley, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-470-45251-6

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).