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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Evolution of the Modern Earth (EASC10090)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThe course consists of a series of thematic, processes-orientated lectures related to the evolution of the earth, mostly during Mesozoic to Recent time. The course will integrate information from a wide range of subjects including sedimentology, palaeoceanography, tectonics and magmatism. The first part of the course will consider fundamental processes related to the evolution of continents and ocean basins on a global basis (e.g. results of ocean drilling). The later lectures will focus on sedimentation in mountain belts (e.g. Himalayas). Fundamental principles will be illustrated with specific geological case histories
Course description The course consists of a series of 18 thematic lectures, supplemented by related case histories. The course will include feedback and discussion sessions in which it is essential to participate. Additional case histories and examples will be given during the feedback and discussion sessions.

An examinable essay will be set during the first lecture sessions in Week 1 and will be handed in to the Grant Inst. Teaching Organisation by 9.30 am Monday 17th October

Week 1: Continent-ocean interaction
Tuesday 20th Sept, 9-9.50 am, Alastair Robertson
Course explanation (what¿s coming...)
1. Rift sedimentation and tectonics
Early Rift phase; sedimentary processes;
Modern and ancient examples; clastic and carbonate settings.

Tuesday 20th Sept, 10-10.50 am, Alastair Robertson
2. Transition from rifts to passive margins
Clastic- and carbonate-dominated rifted margins. Ancient examples.
Alpine case history.
Assessed essay will be set, to be handed in to the Grant Inst. Teaching Organisation by 9.30am Monday 17th October.

Week 2: Ocean-continent interaction and ocean floor magmatic processes
Tuesday 27th Oct, 9-9.50 am, Alastair Robertson
3. Sedimentation on mature passive margins
Recent sedimentary processes. E USA example;
E USA margin deep sea drilling case history

Tuesday 27th Oct, 10-10.50, Alastair Robertson
4. Seafloor spreading tectonics and processes
Key features of Atlantic Mid-Ocean Ridge as seen in recent submersible studies; BRIDGE (Mid-Ocean Ridge project); land-based observations in Iceland.

Week 3: Ocean floor magmatic processes and ocean-continent interaction
Tuesday 4th October am 9-9.50 am, Godfrey Fitton
5. Ocean ridge magmatism; plume-ridge interaction (e.g. Iceland); large igneous provinces.

Tuesday 4th October am 10-10.50 am, Alastair Robertson
6. Arc-trench sedimentation and structure
Form, structure and fill of trenches and accretionary
prisms. Accretion: geophysical, bathymetric and heat-flow;
Subduction erosion; Franciscan melange case history

Week 4 ocean-related processes
Tuesday 11th October 9-9.50 am, Alastair Robertson
7. Back-arc and fore-arc processes and settings;
Modern and ancient back-arc basins. e.g. Mariana, Lau, Japan.
Latest IODP results. Tyrrhennian sea case history

Tuesday 11th October 10-10.50 Alastair Robertson
8. Pelagic sedimentary rocks,
Importance for ancient record; examples in orogenic belts; processes of formation; specific examples from the Alpine-Mediterranean Tethys mainly

Week 5: Formative feedback and Oceanographic processes
Examinable essay (set in Week 1) to be handed in to the Grant Inst. Teaching Organisation by 9.30am Monday 17th October.

Monday 18th October 10-12.00 Formative feedback, discussion (on course so far) and case history Alastair Robertson

Tuesday 19th Oct. 9-9.50 am, Dick Kroon
9. Pelagic sedimentation: Modern sedimentation pattern and processes on a global basis; role of CCD.

Tuesday 19th Sept, 10-10.50 am Dick Kroon
10. Pelagic sedimentation: Essentials of palaeoceanography; selected examples largely drawn from the results of ocean drilling.

Week 6 Formative feedback, ophiolite and Mediterranean geology
Monday 24thOctober 10-1200 Formative feedback, discussion on modern and ancient pelagic sediments and related case history Alastair Robertson and Dick Kroon

Tuesday 25th October 9-9.50 am, Alastair Robertson
11. Ophiolite geology Ophiolites as spreading phenomena and role in mountain building e.g. Semail, Troodos, Newfoundland, W. Mediterranean, circum-Pacific. Comparison with normal MOR's.

Tuesday 25th October 10-10.50 am, Alastair Robertson
12. Miocene-Recent evolution of the Eastern Mediterranean
Plate motions; tectonic and sedimentary effects.
Back-arc extension; slab rollback effects; W Turkey extensional basin case history
Note-this lecture is also relevant to the Cyprus field excursion.

Week 7 Integration and application to selected orogenic belts, contd.
Tuesday 1st Nov 9-9.50 am, Alastair Robertson
13. Himalayas and Tibet; Rift to collision setting.
Rifting and passive margin development; northward drift of India; Subduction and ophiolite genesis; Collision; foreland basin initiation; field-based examples.

Tuesday 1st Nov 10-10.50 am, Alastair Robertson
14. Evolution of the Oman continental margin and ophiolite
Oman Regional setting; rift history; passive margin setting; oceanic units (ophiolite); role of melanges and metamorphic sole; ophiolite stratigraphy; sulphides;
emplacement and younger setting

Week 8 Sediments in mountain building; Hugh Sinclair
Tuesday 8th November 9-9.50 am, Hugh Sinclair
15. The growth of mountain topography
Mountain Building, erosion, critical wedges, plateaux;
Post-orogenic landscapes.

Tuesday 8th November 10-10.50 am, Hugh Sinclair
16. Controls on sediment yields from mountain belts.
Geomorpholog/tectonic control of sediment discharge to the ocean: importance of small mountainous rivers; sediment flux from a mountain belt derived by landslide mapping; Bedrock incision, rock uplift and threshold hillslopes in the NW Himalayas.

Week 9: Sediments in mountain building, contd.
Tuesday 15th November 9-9.50 am, Hugh Sinclair
17. Sediment flux by mountain rivers.
River catchment shape; distorted drainage basins as markers of crustal strain east of the Himalayas; contrasting sediment flux to foreland basins.

Tuesday 15th November 10-10.50 am, Hugh Sinclair
18. Sediment trapping in foreland basins
Thrust loads and foreland basin evolution;
Foreland basin subsidence driven by topographic growth versus plate subduction.

Week 10; course summary, discussion and conclusion

Monday 21st November 10-12.00 Formative feedback: discussion, question-and-answer session and course conclusion, Hugh Sinclair, Dick Kroon and Alastair Robertson

Tuesday 22nd No classes.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Global Tectonics and the Rock Cycle (EASC08020)
It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Sedimentology (EASC09037) AND Structural Geology (EASC09002)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2016/17, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Course Start Date 19/09/2016
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 30, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 58 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 80 %, Coursework 20 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Written Exam: 80%, Course Work: 20 %, Practical Exam: 0%.

Course work: Prepare an illustrated essay
-Essay length maximum 1500 word (not including figures or references);
-Essay should list references used at the end;
-Diagrams should be hand-or computer drawn and NOT photocopies;

The examinable essay will be set during the first lecture sessions in Week 1 and will be handed in to the Grant Inst. Teaching Organisation by 9.30 am Monday 17th October.

Any queries to Alastair Robertson

Feedback Feedback will be based on question-and-answer and discussion sessions which will take place during selected, scheduled Monday morning class times.

Written feedback will be given on the assessed essay.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)Evolution of the Modern Earth3:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. - Students will be actively encouraged to extensively read around the subject and will therefore be able to offer professional level insights as well as being able to critically review and consolidate knowledge.
  2. - The course will be a taste of the ¿research frontier¿ with emphasis on how data are obtained, analysed and interpreted.
  3. - In the exam assessment students will apply their knowledge in ways directly addressed during the course but will also be expected to utilise information from previous relevant (obligatory) courses. Students will therefore be extected to display an ability to solve professional level problems with originality and creativity.
Reading List
You are expected to study a minimum of two selected papers for each lecture topic, as in the list below (most are on LEARN). You are also are encouraged to read more widely and a selection of papers are available in labelled box diagrams in the dungeon (you may borrow individually to make photocopies for your own use but please be sure to return them after use).

1. A Robertson: Sedimentation-Early rift phase
Gawthorpe, R.L., Leeder, M.R., 2000. Tectono-sedimentary evolution of active extensional basins. Basin Research 12, 195-218.
Tucholke, B.E., Sawyer, D.S., Sibuet, J.-C., 2007. Break-up of the Newfoundland-Iberia rift. In Karner, G.D. et al. (eds). Imaging, Mapping and Modelling Continental Lithosphere Extension and Breakuo Geological Society, London Special Publication 292, 9-46.

2. A Robertson: Rift and passive margin sedimentation
Larsen, H.C., 2005. Investigations of rifted margins. JOIDES Journal 85-90.
Manatschal, G., Müntener, O., Lavier, L.L., Misshull, T.A., Peron-Pinvidic, G., 2007. Observations from thee Alpine Tethys and the Iberia-Newfoundland margins pertinent to the interpretation of continental breakup. In Karner, G.D. et al. (eds). Imaging, Mapping and Modelling Continental Lithosphere Extension and Breakuo Geological Society, London Special Publication 292, 291-324.

3. A. Robertson Sedimentation on mature passive margins
Reading H.G. Ed. Sedimentary Environments and Facies, Blackwell, 3rd edit,
Ch, Deep Seas, Stow et al. p, 395-451.
Einsele, G. Sedimentary Basins, Springer-Verlag Ch 5 Oceanic sediments 177-231
Note-In library; copies in dungeon or see AHFR

4. Robertson: British Mid-ocean Ridge project and oceanic crust.
Humphries, S., 2002. Altered rock and seafloor massive sulphide deposits: the record of hydrothermal processes. JOIDES Journal, 28, No 1, 67-72
J. A. Pearce., 2002. The Oceanic Lithosphere. JOIDES Journal, 28, No 1, 61-66.

5. G. Fitton: Large igneous provinces
Coffin, M.F. & O. Eldholm (1994) Large igneous provinces: crustal structure, dimensions, and external consequences, Reviews of Geophysics, 32, 1-36.
Wignall, P.B., (2001) Large igneous provinces and mass extinctions. Earth-Science Reviews 53, 1 ¿ 33.

6. A Robertson: Arc-trench sedimentation
Plank, T., 2002. Subduction factory input and output JOIDES Journal, 28, No 1, 73-77.
Moore, C. and Silver, E., 2002. Fluid flow in accreting and eroding convergent margins. Journal, 28, No 1, 91-96. (given out in class)

7. A. Robertson: Backarc basins
Underwood, M B and others, l995. Sedimentation in forearc basins, trenches and collision zones, of the western Pacific: a summary of results from the Ocean Drilling Program. American Geophysical Union, Geophysical Monograph 88, In B Taylor and J Natland (eds). Active Margins and Marginal Basins of the Western Pacific, 315-354. (copies in the 4th yr. room),
Kastens, K.A., J. Mascle and Shipboard Scientific Party, l988. ODP
Leg 107 in the Tyrrhenian Sea: insights into passive margin and back
arc basin evolution. Geological Society of America, Bulletin 100,1140

8. A. Robertson: Ancient pelagic sediments
Jenkyns, H.C. Pelagic sediments, In Reading, H.G. Sedimentary Environments and Facies, 2nd. l986
Robertson, A H F Robertson and Hudson, J.D., l974 Pelagic sediments in the Cretaceous-Miocene development of Cyprus. In: Hsu, K and Jenkyns, H.C. (eds). Pelagic Sediments on Land and Under the Sea. Special Publication of the International Association of Sedimentologists, No. 1.

9. 10. D. Kroon: pelagic sediments
Seibold, E and Berger, W.H., 1982. The Sea Floor, chapter 3. Sources and composition of marine sediments, Springer-Verlag, pages 54-76.
Seibold, E. and Berger, W.H., 1982. The Sea Floor, chapter 8. Patterns of Deep Sea Sedimentation, Springer-Verlag, pages 181-201.

11. A. Robertson: Ophiolite geology
Special issue of ¿Elements¿, 2014, (vol 10, no. 2). International Magazine of Mineralogy, Geochemistry and Petrology, Ed. Y Dilek and H. Furness.
(browse several papers; e.g. by Julian Pearce).

12. A. Robertson: Neotectonic evolution of the Eastern Mediterranean
Taymaz et al. 1991, Active tectonics of the north and central Aegean Sea. geophysics Journal international, 106, 433-490.
Kahle et al., 2000. GPS-derived strain rate field within the boundary zones of the Eurasian, African and Arabian plates. Journal of Geophysical Research, 105, 23353-23370

13. A. Robertson: Himalayas/Tibet
1. Gaetani, M and Garzanti, E., l991. Multicycle history of the northern India continental margin (North western Himalayas). American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin 75, 127-1446.
2. Robertson, A H F and Degnan, M P l993 Sedimentology and tectonic implications of the Lamayuru Complex: deep-water facies of the Indian passive margin, Indus Suture Zone, Ladakh Himalaya. In: Treloar, P.J. & Searle. M.P. (eds). Himalayan Tectonics. Geol. Soc. London, Spec. Publ., 74, 299-321.
3. Khan, M.A. et al. l993. Evolution of the lower arc crust in Kohistan, N Pakisatan: temporal arc magmatism through early, mature and intra-arc rift stages. In: Treloar and Searle (eds). Himalayan Tectonics, Geol. Soc. London Special Pub., 74, 123-138.

14. A. Robertson: Oman: continental margin-oceanic crust emplacement
A.H.F. Robertson and M.P. Searle (l990). The northern Oman Tethyan continental margin: stratigraphy, structure, concepts and controversies. In: Robertson, A.H.F., Searle, M.P. and Ries, A.C. 1990 (Eds). The Geology and Tectonics of the Oman Region. Special Publication of the Geological Society of London, 49, 3-44

15. H. Sinclair: The growth of mountain topography
Davis, D., Supper, J. & Dahlen, F.A. (1983) Mechanics of Fold-and-Thrust Belts and Accretionary Wedges. Journal of Geophysical Research, 88, 1153-1172
Lave, J. & Avouac, J.P. (2000) Active Folding of Fluvial Terraces across the Siwaliks Hills, Himalayas of Central Nepal. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth, 105, 5735-5770

16. H Sinclair: Controls on sediment yield from mountain belts
Milliman, John D., and James PM Syvitski. "Geomorphic/tectonic control of sediment discharge to the ocean: the importance of small mountainous rivers." The Journal of Geology (1992): 525-544.
Burbank, Douglas W., et al. "Bedrock incision, rock uplift and threshold hillslopes in the northwestern Himalayas." Nature 379.6565 (1996): 505-510.

17. H Sinclair: Sediment flux by mountain rivers
Hallet, B., and Molnar, P., Distorted drainage basins as markers of crustal strain east of the Himalaya. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 106, NO. B7, PP. 13,697-13,709, 2001 doi:10.1029/2000JB900335
Burbank, Douglas W., and Robert S. Anderson. Tectonic geomorphology. Wiley. com, 2011. (relevant parts; ask Hugh Sinclair).

18. Sinclair: Sediment trapping in foreland basins
Jordan, T. E., (1981) Thrust Loads and Foreland Basin Evolution, Cretaceous, Western United States, AAPG Bulletin. Volume 65, Issue 12. (December), Pages 2506 - 2520
Naylor, M., Sinclair, H. D., (2008) Pro- versus retro-Foreland Basins: Basin Research Volume 20, Issue 3, pages 285¿303, 2008
Hawkins, J. 2003. Geology of supra-subduction zones-implications for the origin of ophiolites. In: Dilek, Y and Newcomb, S. (eds). Ophiolite Concept and the Evolution of Geological Thought. Geological Society of America Special Paper 373, 227-268.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information Lectures on Tuesdays at 9:00-10:50, Weeks 1-11.

The course will use the Monday lectures in the timetable (10.00 - 12.00) as occasional feedback sessions, which the Course Organiser will discuss and agree with the students first. Students will receive an email advertising the session.
Course organiserProf Alastair Robertson
Tel: (0131 6)50 8546
Course secretaryMiss Sarah Thomas
Tel: (0131 6)50 8510
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