Spring 2024 - EASC 305 D100

Quantitative Methods for the Earth Sciences (3)

Class Number: 1473

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 8 – Apr 12, 2024: Tue, 2:30–4:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    EASC 101; MATH 152, PHYS 121 or 126 or 102 or 141, and STAT 201 or 270 (all with a grade of C- or better), and six units in any 200-division or higher EASC courses.



Implementation of mathematical methods and numerical techniques for problem solving in the Earth Sciences. Examples and lab assignments will use Excel spreadsheets and/or Matlab computer programming/display software. Concepts covered include quantitative techniques for field data and error analysis in the geosciences, basic computer programming concepts and numerical modeling of Earth processes. Quantitative.


In the Earth sciences, we deal with a variety of data acquired by geological mapping, geochemical analysis, and geophysical surveys. Although such data may be quite different, they can have certain common characteristics; for example, some types of data are recorded as a function of time or geographic location. Consequently, there are certain standard approaches to representing such data, understanding their significance, and analyzing uncertainties. Students will learn how data can be organized and gain practical experience with some basic techniques that will enable them to develop alogoithms for data analysis. While simple data analysis can sometimes be carried out using Excel spreadsheets, many problems will require the use of advanced programming languages such as Python. Geospatial analysis and 3D modelling of various data sets will involve the use of QGIS and Leapfrog Geo, respectively. Lectures will provide the background to the various methods, with the computer-based lab assignments and term project helping to develop skills in practical programming, field data analysis, and 2D/3D modelling.

Provisional course topics:

  • Matrices and data organization
  • Univariate/bivariate statistics, tests of statistical significance
  • Principal component analysis
  • Analysis of spatial data: interpolation, variograms and kriging
  • Introductory computing with Python
  • Introductory GIS and 2D/3D geological modelling


  • Laboratory Exercises 20%
  • Term project (Integrated GIS & 3D modelling) 40%
  • Midterm exam 1 20%
  • Midterm exam 2 20%


Python, Leapfrog and QGIS software will be available in the computer lab.



Davis, J.C., 2003, Statistics and Data Analysis in Geology, 3rd Edition, Wiley, ISBN: 978-0-471-17275-8

Petrelli, M., 2021, Introduction to Python in Earth Science Data Analysis: From Descriptive Statistics to Machine Learning, Springer, ISBN: 978-3-030-78054-8


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

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


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the term are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.