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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Sedimentology (EASC09037)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 9 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThe primary aim of the Sedimentology course is to place interrelated clastic, chemical, carbonate and biological sediments in the wider context of sedimentary basins. The course builds on the basic principles developed in the first and second year courses and expands the subject outside predominantly clastic systems to incorporate other important components, notably clastic sediment diagenesis and the formation and geological occurrence of chemical and biological sediments (carbonates, ironstone, cherts, evaporites). The practicals will be closely integrated with the lectures and will consider specific geological examples. Study of hand specimens and of thin sections under the optical microscope forms an important part of the practical work.

Course description Wed 23rd Sept Stuart Haszeldine
L1 Coal. Occurrence, modern analogues, palaeoenvironments, coal types and occurrence in the geological record
P Coal settings and environments

30th Sept Alastair Robertson
L2 Ironstones. Composition, character and associations of ironstone minerals; distribution of ironstones in space and time. Outline of Precambrian iron formation
P Petrography and hand specimens of ironstones and iron formation

Formative feedback essay: you will informed of the title, length, format and source materials during this lecture; essay to handed in to the Teaching Organisation in the Grant Institute by 12 noon on Wednesday 28th October.

7th October Stuart Haszeldine
L3 Components of clastic sediments. Different classification schemes and their applications to sediment provenance.
P Examination of clastic sediments using petrographic microscope.

14th October Stuart Haszeldine
L4 Diagenesis. Changes in clastic sediments after deposition, during burial, up to metamorphism. Cementation, dissolution, porosity, permeability and their application.
P Examination of changes in a sandstone at different burial depths.
21st October Rachel Wood
L 5 a) Review of carbonate sedimentary rocks through time. b) Carbonate depositional environments: exposure surfaces; fresh-water; temperate shallow-sea; and deep-sea.
P Hand-specimens, loose-sediment and thin-section examination of modern and ancient carbonates from exposure surface, fresh-water, temperate shallow-sea, and deep-sea environments.

28th October Rachel Wood
L6 Distribution and structure of modern coral reefs.

P Demonstration and thin-section analysis of limestones from the Silurian reefal deposits of the Much Wenlock Limestone of Shropshire, England

Formative feedback essay to handed in to the Teaching Organisation in the Grant Institute by 12 noon on Wednesday 28th October.

4th November Alastair Robertson
L7 Cherts. Chert nomenclature and occurrence; chemical controls; silica diagenesis; controls on silica accumulation and chert formation in the stratigraphical record
P Thin sections and chert samples

20 mins PRACTICAL TEST at the start of the practical; covers all practical work so far in the course.

11th November Alastair Robertson
L8 Evaporites. Modern occurrences; sabkhas; barred basins e.g. Mediterranean Zechstein evaporites. Diagenesis; importance in stratigarphical record
P Demonstration and thin sections of evaporites.

18th November Rachel Wood
L9 Diagenesis of carbonates in the fresh-water, marine, and deep-burial realms.
P Thin-section analysis of diagenetic fabrics in reef limestones of Quaternary, Tertiary and Carboniferous ages.

25th Nov Rachel Wood
L9 Carbonate deposition environments: processes and products of deposition of carbonate sediments in shallow tropical seas.
P Thin-section analysis of Mesozoic shallow water tropical limestones from the Dorset coast, SW England.
Course ends; revision in Week 10.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Global Tectonics and the Rock Cycle (EASC08020) AND
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesSome prior knowledge of sedimentology and optical microscopy (for the practicals) is a normal requirement for enrolling in this course.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. By the end of this course you will have achieved a good understanding of several key types of sedimentary rock, namely carbonates, sandstones, ironstones, evaporites and cherts.
  2. You will have learnt how to identify and interpret these sedimentary rocks in hand specimen and thin section under the optical microscope.
  3. You will have developed an understanding of the sedimentary and diagenetic processes involved in the formation of these rocks.
  4. You will have learnt about the chemical, physical and biological processes involved.
Reading List
There is no single textbook that covers all the class material. Therefore you need to consult different books as appropriate.
Basic text-good for catch-up and basic information
Tucker ME, Sedimentary Petrology: an Introduction, Blackwell.
Nichols, G., Sedimentology and Stratigraphy, Blackwell.

Advanced text - good for third year reference
Leeder MR, Sedimentology and Sedimentary Basins: from Turbulence to Tectonics, Blackwell Science
Reading HG, Sedimentary Environments & Facies, Blackwell.
Tucker ME & Wright VP, Carbonate Sedimentology, Blackwell.

Additional reading lists may be given out by individual lecturers during their classes, including reference to individual published papers which you will find in the library or on line. Your own study constitutes and important part of the course.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserProf Alastair Robertson
Tel: (0131 6)50 8546
Course secretaryMs Casey Hollway
Tel: (0131 6)50 8510
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