Fall 2022 - GEOG 412W D100

Glacial Processes and Environments (4)

Class Number: 2901

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Fr 12:30 PM – 2:20 PM
    RCB 7108, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    60 units, including GEOG 213; GEOG 313 and EASC 201 recommended



An examination of glacial processes and environments emphasizing landscapes and sediments resulting from the movement of ice, water, and sediment; application of field techniques. Writing.


Glacial ice covered most of Canada, and many other areas, during the last glacial period, around 20,000 years ago. This ice left behind a complex record of its extent, movement and decay in a huge variety of sediments and landforms. Using this landscape record, we can piece the glacial history together, and in doing so learn about the processes by which modern glaciers and ice sheets might change in response to changing climate.

This course examines the interactions between climate, glaciers and ice sheets, and the landscapes, landforms and sediments they produce, with particular attention on meltwater processes. We will explore the glacial history of Canada, and BC in particular. The course will also develop and test critical thinking, evidence-based reasoning, field research and scientific writing skills.

Course structure

  • Weekly 2-hour lecture, with additional 2-hour lectures for first 2 weeks.
  • 2 seminars/workshops to develop writing and mapping skills
  • Weekend (3-day) overnight field trip

Field trip details:

There is a mandatory 3-day field trip for this course over the weekend of September 23-25. Attendance of this trip is required, and leads to completion of the first written assignment. If you are unable to attend this trip, consider delaying taking this course. Your mandatory supplementary course fee covers part of the transportation costs for this trip. Additionally, students should expect to pay up to $100 to the Geography Department to cover transportation (partial) and accommodation costs; supplementary fee will be confirmed in the first 2 weeks of classes. Students will be responsible for their own food costs throughout the trip. Expectations and considerations regarding safety, student conduct, required equipment, meals and accommodation will be discussed in class prior to trip. Be aware that during the field trip there will be periods of moderately-intense hiking, crossing roads and railroads, and working around sediment exposures; students must follow all instructions from teaching and support staff. Weather conditions will be highly variable; appropriate footwear and clothing must be worn. Students must at all times remain complaint with all student responsibilities, regulations, and policies as outlined in the current Academic Calendar, as well as relevant regulations and policies as outlined in the SFU Policy Gazette. This includes, but is not limited to, expected student conduct and the maintenance of appropriate medical insurance coverage. Students will sign a field activity plan to acknowledge the trip activities and risk, and an Assumption of Risk (waiver) form. Field trip will follow SFU Covid requirements as necessary.


  • Some additional/supplementary lecture videos will be posted, requiring an internet-enabled device capable of viewing YouTube videos.


  • Warm, windproof, waterproof clothing and sturdy footwear
  • Waterproof or appropriately protected (e.g. Ziploc) notebook
  • Camera or smartphone



  • Assignment 1: Field Sedimentology: Describe and interpret a sediment exposure visited on the field trip. Discuss your interpretations with regards to competing models of the deglaciation of the last ice sheet over BC. 20%
  • Assignment 2: Scientific Journal Review: Read and synthesise a scientific journal article. Produce two short responses to the article: 1. summarise the article for a general audience in the form of a piece of scientific journalism; 2. critically review the evidence and conclusions of the article. 20%
  • Assignment 3: Remote Mapping: Produce a geomorphic map of a small area of glacial landforms based on air photo data. Summarise the glacial history of the area based on this mapped evidence. 20%
  • Final exam: 3-hour exam, comprising 40 multi-choice questions, choice of 5 from 10 short answer questions, 1 long essay question 40%


Completion of all course components is required for a passing grade.

Grade boundaries

A+: >90%            A: 85-89%          A-: 80-84%

B+: 77-79%        B: 73-76%          B-: 70-72%

C+: 67-69%        C: 63-66%          C-: 60-62%

D: 50-59%

Fail: < 50%




Required Materials

  • Access to CANVAS (SFU’s online learning management system) required for access to course material and submission of assignments.
  • PDF viewing software.
  • Access to Google Earth Pro (Online or via desktop download)


Bennett, M.R. and Glasser, N.F. 2009. Glacial Geology: Ice Sheets and Landforms, 2nd Ed. Wiley

Alternative Textbook: Benn, D.I. and Evans, D.J.A. 2010. Glaciers and Glaciation, 2nd Ed. Hodder Arnold

Note: copies will be available in the Bennett Library in the Geography Department; self-purchase is optional.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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