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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Palaeontology and Sedimentology (EASC10106)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course covers selected aspects of palaeontology and sedimentology as two on-going strands during semester 1. Palaentology and sedimentology will also be integrated in the context of four dedicated half-day fieldtrips to Palaeozoic rocks in the vicinity of Edinburgh.
Course description Palaeontology component

Mon 19th Sept. Steve Brusatte:
Lecture Introductory lecture and practical introducing the major groups of invertebrate fossils that will be encountered in the field excursions.
Division of class into groups for eventual group presentations on field sites.

Fieldtrip Mon 26th Sept. Steve Brusatte, Alastair Robertson and others
Excursion to Pentland Hills (Silurian, brachiopods, trilobites, crinoids, corals, sponges, bryozoans, etc. in the context of fore-arc basin sediments).

Fieldtrip Mon 3rd October Steve Brusatte, Alastair Robertson
Excursion to Dob┐s Lin (Ordovician: graptolites and turbidites)

Fieldtrip Mon 10th October Steve Brusatte, Alastair Robertson
Excursion to Fife (Carboniferous, brachiopods, crinoids, bryozoans, etc. in the context of tropical shallow marine sedimentation)

Fieldtrip Mon 17th October Steve Brusatte, Alastair Robertson, Rachell Wood
Excursion to East Lothian (Carboniferous, biostratigraphic exercise in the context of tropical shallow-marine carbonate deposition logging);

Lecture Mon 24th Oct Lectures on major evolutionary transitions and evolution in deep time Steve Brusatte
Note-date may be swapped related to staff availability.

Lecture & Practical Mon 31st Oct. Mass extinctions and biodiversity patterns, Steve Brusatte
Note-date may be swapped related to staff availability.

Lecture Mon 7th Nov. Micropalaeontology: mass extinctions as evidenced in microfossils; study of samples from before and after the Cretaceous-Paleogene impact, Dick Kroon
Note-date may be swapped related to staff availability.

Mon 14th Nov. First part of time slot; Lecture on vertebrates, Steve Brusatte,
Second part of time slot; group presentations (see below).

The fieldtrips will leave by coach as near as possible to 12.30 pm from the Grant Institute, KB and will return about 6 pm. If you have any difficulty making these times owing to teaching clashes please inform the course organiser as soon as possible. Order of 2-4th trip may be changed owing e.g. to tides,

Sedimentology component

Wed 21st Sept Rachel Wood
Lecture a) Carbonate sedimentary rocks through time. b) Carbonate depositional environments: exposure surfaces; fresh-water; temperate shallow-sea; and deep-sea.
Practical 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 Sept Rachel Wood
L - 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

5th October Rachel Wood
L - 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.

12th October Rachel Wood
L - 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.

19th October Rachel Wood
L - Principles and application of sequence stratigraphy
P - Practical application of sequence stratigraphy (including specific geological examples)

26th October Alastair Robertson
L Role of chemical systems and processs, then Chert nomenclature and occurrence; chemical controls; silica diagenesis; controls on silica accumulation and chert formation in the stratigraphical record
26th October Mock exam question to be set; to be handed in to Grant Institute Teaching Organisation by 12 noon on Wednesday 9th November
P Thin sections and chert samples

2nd November Alastair Robertson
L Evaporites. Modern occurrences; sabkhas; barred basins e.g. Mediterranean Zechstein evaporites. Diagenesis; importance in stratigraphical record
P Demonstration and thin sections of evaporites

9th November Stuart Haszeldene
L - Components of clastic sediments. Different classification schemes and their applications to sediment provenance.
P - Examination of clastic sediments using petrographic microscope.

16th November Alastair Robertson
L - Role of chemical systems and processs; 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

23th Nov Stuart Haszeldine
L - 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.
23rd November 11.30-12.00 Class Practical Test (in normal practical time).
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements 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
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 14, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 42, Fieldwork Hours 36, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 3, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 101 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) For the palaeontology component of the course, 50% of the mark will come from the written exam and 50% from coursework.

The written exam will have a choice of several essay-style questions.

The coursework is a written report and group presentation based on one of the four fieldtrips. The course will be divided into eight groups: two for each fieldtrip site. Each individual will write a report on their groups┐ site, which includes: 1) a brief background on the age, location (200 words), and importance of the site; 2) a summary of the sedimentology of the site (200 words); 3) a description of five fossils you found at the site, with a drawing or photograph for each, an identification of what the fossils are, and 50 words about major anatomical features and biological habits (250 words total). Each group will work together to prepare and a deliver a 15-minute powerpoint presentation on their site, describing its age, sedimentology, importance, major fossils, palaeoenvironment, and any other relevant information. Be creative! The report is worth 40% of the overall palaeontology grade and the group presentation 10% (everyone in the group receives the same mark for the presentation). The presentations will be delivered during the second half of the lecture slot on Monday November 7 (or whenever the Vertebrates lecture will be). The individual reports will be due in class on that same day.

The sedimentological component of the group presentations (see above). A choice of essay-style questions in the degree exam (together with palaeontological ones (see above). An up to 20 minute test on the practical material of the sedimentological part of the course (not theory) to be held in the scheduled practical class time on 23rd November.
Feedback Mock exam question in sedimentology to be set and marked with written feedback (choice of two questions-carbonates and cherts; discussion during fieldtrips; verbal and written feedback on the assessed group presentations after the fieldtrips.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)3:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Show a good understanding of the occurence and geological relevance of key fossil groups
  2. Show a good understanding of key geological processes and settings involved in the formation and diagenesis of carbonate sediments, chemical sediments and siliciclastic sediments with emphasis on practical and field context and integration with palaeontology.
Reading List

1. Benton, M.J. and Harper, D.A.T, 2009, Basic Palaeontology: Introduction to Paleobiology and the fossil record, Wiley-Blackwell (this will be the main course textbook and is required reading)

2. Clarkson, E.N.K, 2001, Invertebrate palaeontology and evolution, Wiley-Blackwell (this book will be most useful in helping to identify major fossil groups)

3. Michael J Benton, 2014, Vetebrate Palaeontology, Wiley-Blackwell (this book is for background reading related to the vertebrate palaeontology lectures)

4. Stephen L. Brusatte, 2012, Dinosaur Paleobiology, Wiley-Blackwell (this book is for background reading related to the vertebrate palaeontology lectures)

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 and Facies, Blackwell

Tucker ME and Wright VP, Carbonate Sedimentology, Blackwell
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserProf Alastair Robertson
Tel: (0131 6)50 8546
Course secretaryMiss Sarah Thomas
Tel: (0131 6)50 8510
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