Oceanography--Term Paper Suggestions
Each paper must have a purpose, and that purpose must be stated at the
beginning so the reader knows what to look for. Possible purposes might be:
1) To present a survey of satellite remote sensing techniques used in
oceanography, or 2) To argue that human pollutants are destroying coral
The paper topic should have greater depth than the coverage that that topic
receives in class.
The paper should include the writer's own conclusions and not be merely a
At least three sources should be used and properly cited with footnotes or
scientific citations (Reynolds 1985), and a bibliography should appear at
the end of the paper.
Papers should be about 7-10 pages in length, but this is not a rigid
requirement, and they will be graded only on content.
You are encouraged to write your paper on computer because of the ease in
making corrections and alterations. Computers and word processing software
are available for student use in the library breezeway and other locations
on campus. All you need is a diskette.
The two main objectives of the paper are to research a topic and to write a
well-structured report on it. As you consider what topic to write on, make
sure that appropriate library materials on that topic are available. A scan
of library materials may be the best way for you to choose a topic.
Library of Congress call numbers for oceanographic collections
Use the computerized index to find library materials on a specific topic.
The "help" command will familiarize you with the use of the system.
- GC Main collection on oceanography
- QC 879 Meteorology and atmosphere/ocean chemistry
- QE 39 Marine geology
- QL 1-640 Biology of marine organisms
You may also want to scan relevant periodicals such as Science
A list of possible term paper topics is found below. The list is by no
means exhaustive, however, and you are free to choose any topic as long as
it has relevance to oceanography. If you are not sure of the viability of a
topic, consult the instructor.
Possible Term Paper Topics
You may also want to consider writing about the life history of a specific
group of marine organisms, such as: monerans, fungi, foraminifera, diatoms,
radiolarians, marine algae, sponges, corals, marine worms, jellyfish, sea
anemones, brachiopods, clams, snails, octopi, nautiloids, crinoids, sea
urchins, starfish, barnacles, shrimp, crabs, primitive fishes, anadromous
fishes, sharks, sea turtles, sea snakes, sea birds, penguins, seals and
walruses, whales and porpoises (to name a few).
- The earth as compared with other planets
- The history of oceanography (focusing on one aspect or person)
- The origin of ocean water
- The petrology of sea-floor basalts
- Ocean basalt magnetism
- Geothermal processes on the ocean floor (mineral formation)
- Oceanic ridges
- Deep-sea trenches
- The Deep Sea Drilling Project
- Shelf sedimentation
- Turbidity currents
- Deep-sea fan sedimentation
- Biogenous sediments
- Chemical precipitation of marine sediments
- Estuary processes
- Effects of the Ice Age on the oceans
- Marine chemistry (salt, oxygen, carbon dioxide, trace elements)
- Patterns of hurricanes throughout the world
- Icebergs and sea ice
- Deep sea currents and upwelling
- Coastal erosion and deposition
- Wave transport of sediment and beach formation
- Oxygen isotopes in deep sea cores
- Off-shore oil drilling
- Use of remote sensing in oceanography
- Ocean pollution
- Island biogeography
- The role of plankton in the food chain
- Reef community biology
- The high productivity of salt marshes
- Life in the deep sea
- Ocean ridge biotic communities
- Evolution of amphibians from crossopterygian fishes
If you choose one of these topics, you still need to decide on the focus
(the purpose) of the paper. You may want to deal with only one specialized
element of the topic.
Timothy H. Heaton:
Phone (605) 677-6122, FAX (605) 677-6121