Earth Science Processes

The Earth Science processes discussed in class are not only found in exotic locations, but in our own immediate environment. Being able to recognize physical processes in the landscape is an important goal in this course. The purpose of this assignment is for you to practice your skills of geographic observation within your own community by applying concepts and topics that we cover in class and Southern California. You will want to be mindful of Southern California’s particular geography in your discussion of the topic.


Remember – the purpose of your photo essay is to illustrate and describe the unique physical features and processes in Southern California. Don’t take a picture of dew and say “It’s humid”. I know that, why did the dew form, what is it telling us?






  1. Temperature Inversion Layer OR Lifting Condensation Level (LCL)


The inversion layer is unpredictable more than a day or so out bring your camera with you when you are out and about. LCL is common at times when inversions are not. You need to capture one or the other.




  1. Earth Sun Relationships


Take a photograph of something with shadows and explain why and how the shadow length will vary throughout the year. Please note that this concept is not the same as day length.




  1. Humidity


Either high or low humidity. Explain what humidity is.




  1. Atmospheric Lifting Mechanisms


There are four types though we don’t get Convergent. Orographic lifting is easy & close too.




  1. Weather


Describe the weather for a particular day – include newspaper or online weather information for date. What were the contributing factors to that day’s weather?




6. Climate


How does the native vegetation reflect Southern California’s climate. Don’t take a picture of roses or palm trees for this topic. Those plants are not native to Southern California.




7. Earthquakes


Earthquake preparation will suffice since we cannot predict an earthquake this semester. Do not just take a picture of a crack in the ground and say “earthquake”. Why do we need to prepare for earthquakes in OC?




8. Stream processes


Not just a pretty picture of a stream, I want a process, transportation, erosion, bed load…




9. Coastal processes – Headland




10. Coastal processes – your choice


Not just a pretty picture of the beach, I want a process: wave erosion, sea stacks, spits, tombolos,






  • 10 Photographs, 10 Paragraphs
  • Photos are limited to Southern California. If you have pictures that you really want to use that were taken in locations other than Southern California let me know about it in advance. You may use a digital camera. But photos should be at least 3×5 in size.
  • Include a table of contents. Your photos should be in the order shown above.
  • Each photo will have a typed description and paragraph analysis (see below for example). Bibliographic information will include the location, date and time of photo. The analysis will include a definition or explanation of the topic and a detailed description/analysis of how the photo represents the topic. The more insightful the analysis the higher the project grade.
  • Please put enough of an effort so the glue does not stick the pages together, your printer has ink, etc… Do not put pages in plastic sleeves. A fancy scrap booking project will not help your grade. Please put that effort into the descriptions instead. At least staple the 11 pages together. Failure to bind your project together will have a negative impact on your grade.




All essays will be graded on the following criteria:


  • Photos are neatly & clearly presented including all data & descriptive information.
  • Follow instructions, format follows sample given below & includes a table of contents.
  • A variety of topics from class are illustrated from a variety of locations.
  • Analysis is insightful and clearly related to information covered in class.
  • Appropriate terminology is defined.




Sample Photo Analysis:


Topic: Mass Wasting


Date: October 3, 2009


Location: Ortega Hwy


Description: Landslide


Analysis: Ortega Highway cuts east out of Orange County through the mountains and along the way the slopes are steep and subjected to mass wasting. The material tumbled down the slope in a process known as a landslide. Recent rains would have lubricated and added weight to the slope though there was apparently limited mudflow in this event. Road cuts may have also steepened the slope encouraging mass wasting. This landslide was a quick event (as opposed to creep) and will be quickly cleared by CalTrans. One can assume though that given the steep slopes along Ortega that this event my likely re-occur. Good thing I am not commuting through here…