University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Geochemistry (EASC09050)

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
SummaryThis course provides an introduction to geochemistry, firstly through a short review of thermodynamics and kinetics as applied to Earth systems and then through consideration of the geochemical toolbox: the basic principles and techniques which underlie modern geochemistry. Material covered includes classification of the elements and their behaviour in earth systems/during earth processes, use of stable and radiogenic isotopes and the application of techniques to topics as diverse as dating formation of the solar system to constraining changes in the climate and ocean record.
Course description Week 1
Introduction to Geochemistry. (GDB)
Lecture Tuesday 14-15:00
Course introduction. Formation and composition of the Earth, reclassification of the elements. Introduction to isotope systematics and trace elements. Normalising geochemical data. Trace element partitioning during earth processes. Predictive models of partitioning behaviour.
Practical Tuesday 15-17:00
Exercise on trace element partitioning.

Week 2
Geochemical Toolbox Parts 1 and 2 (CH)
Lecture Tuesday 14-15:30
Introduction electromagnetic radiation and interaction with matter; EMP and XRF analysis.
Lecture Tuesday 15:30-17:00
Vibrational spectroscopy

Week 3
Geochemical Toolbox Part 3 (AT)
Lecture Tuesday 14-15:30
Mass Spectrometry
Introduction to class assessment (searching databases, choosing a paper, what is a press release?).
Advanced thermodynamics (GDB)
Lecture Tuesday 15:30-17:00
Refresher of basics thermodynamics and kinetics.
Consideration of ideal vs non-ideal systems. A Master equation for predicting equilibrium.
16:00 Friday Week 3
Deadline for students to submit chosen papers for approval (email to Alex or Geoff)

Week 4
Lecture Tuesday 14-15:00
Thermodynamics of complex fluids. Application of thermodynamics to Earth processes. Tie-in with trace element behaviour.
Practical Tuesday 15-17:00
Thermodynamics exercises; feedback on handed-in work given.
16:00 Friday Week 4
Deadline for on-line submission of student Press Releases.
Students placed into groups of 4 and assigned a different paper from the titles originally approved.

Week 5
Stable isotopes 1. (AT)
Lecture Tuesday 14-15:00
Introduction to stable isotopes and fractionation. Low T applications of stable isotopes.
Practical Tuesday 15-17:00
Low T stable isotopes practical.


Week 6
Lab session Tuesday 14-17:00
In class student assessment (AT and GDB): Group presentations of geochemistry-related papers. One student from each group selected to give 5 minute presentation using one PowerPoint slide, followed by five minutes of questions. Peer assessment by class (moderated by AT and GDB).

Week 7
Stable isotopes 2: (GDB)
Lecture Tuesday 14-15:00
High temperature applications of stable isotopes.
Practical Tuesday 15-17:00
Practical on stable isotopes (high T aplications).

Week 8
Radionuclides 1: (GDB)
Lecture Tuesday 14-15:00
Refresher of radioactive decay and the decay laws.
Introduction to geochronology and the isochron. Use of the Rb-Sr, Sm-Nd,
Lu-Hf and Re-Os systems and their applications.
Practical Tuesday 15-17:00
Plotting isochrones.

Week 9
Radionuclides 2: (GDB)
Lecture Tuesday 14-15:00
The U series and their use in radiometric dating.
Practical Tuesday 15-17:00
Concordia plots and U-series dating of zircon.

Week 10
Radionuclides 3: (AT)
Lecture Tuesday 14-15:00
Palaeoapplications of radiogenic isotopes.
Practical Tuesday 15-17:00
Class revision session (AT and GDB).

Week 11
No scheduled classes/revision for exam

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Geomaterials (EASC08021)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the thermodynamic principals underlying modern geochemistry.
  2. Understand the theoretical background behind, and practical application of commonly used techniques in geoscience research.
  3. Begin to be able to critically assess the reliability of published geochemical data.
  4. 4. Understand how different geochemcial techniques can be applied to the study of earth processes, and be aware of the strengths and limitations of commonly used techniques.
  5. Develop confidence in presenting and critically analysing geochemical data
Reading List
Geochemistry: an introduction (Albarède: CUP)
Geochemistry (White; Whiley-Blackwell)
Using geochemical data: evaluation, presentation, Interpretation (Rollinson: Longman)

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Special Arrangements None
KeywordsChem Geol
Course organiserDr Geoffrey Bromiley
Tel: (0131 6)50 8519
Course secretaryMiss Sarah Thomas
Tel: (0131 6)50 8510
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information
© Copyright 2016 The University of Edinburgh - 3 February 2017 3:47 am