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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Geomaterials (EASC08021)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryIn this course we explore the fundamental nature of the material which constitutes the Earth and other planets. In the Mineral Science section we consider how atoms are arranged in crystalline materials and how this ultimately governs the nature of geomaterials. Interaction of crystalline materials with light, X-rays and electrons are used to introduce the theoretical and practical basis behind the polarising microscope, X-ray diffraction and electron microscope/microprobe. In Composition of the Earth we review the main groups of Earth Materials, considering (1) how structure, chemistry, physical properties, and occurrence are interrelated, (2) how earth materials are used in modern research as information sources to reveal the nature of Earth processes, and (3) introduce theoretical aspects of modern Earth Materials research (e.g. phase stability and transitions). In the final section Chemical Equilibria we consider how the stability and occurrence of geomaterials can be predicted and determined numerically using thermodynamics, and consider factors governing the rates of Earth processes at variable depths.
Course description Week 1
Part One: mineral science
Lecture 1. Refresher of symmetry, systems and Miller indices. Introduction to lattices. Group and translational symmetry and lattices
No practical
On-line test of material from 1st year

Lecture 2. Lattice and structure. X-ray diffraction and determining crystal structures. Crystal structure of amorphous materials. Crystal structure and bonding.
Practical. Symmetry and lattices. Indexing lattice planes and using XRD data to solve crystal structures.

Week 2
Lecture 3. Intro to the polarising microscope; colour, pleochroism and relief; birefringence and interference patterns
Practical. Optics intro to use of the polarising microscope; recognition and use of interference colours.

Lecture 4. The optical indicatrix: optic sign; relationship between optical and crystallographic structure of minerals
Practical. Interference figures for uniaxial and biaxial minerals.

Week 3
lecture5. Composition of the Earth; mineral chemistry; expressing chemical variation with formulae and plots; chemical analysis of minerals; the Electron microprobe.
Practical. Crystal structure and optical properties (introduction to extinction angles and pleochroism).

Part 2: Composition of the Earth
Lecture 6. Intro to oxides, silicates, carbonates etc
Classification of silicates based on structure, Isosilicates: olivine structure
Practical. Isosilicates: olivine and garnets

Week 4
Lecture 7. Isosilicates: olivine (P-T and T-X phase diagrams¿structure of the deep Earth¿hydration and serpentinisation)¿ aluminosilicates (link to metamorphic petrology..P-T diagrams)
No practical

Lecture 8. Chain structures: pyroxenes and amphibole (structure, comp)
Practical. Pyroxene and Amphibole assessed practical

Week 5
Lecture 9. Chain structures continued: more on applications: solvus, phase diagrams, sheet silicates
No practical

Lecture 10. Sheet silicates continued: more on applications: serpentine (PT, hydration and dehydration¿volatiles in the deep Earth)¿industrial minerals which are sheet silicates¿clays (swelling and geomorphology/slope stability)
Practical. Sheet silicates

Week 6

Group poster presentation during practical slot (no lecture)

Lecture 11. Framework silicates 1: feldspar structure, composition, stability; ordering, exsolution and phase transitions.
Practical. Feldspar: structures, hand specimens and thin sections. Determining feldspar compositions.

Lecture 12. Framework silicates 2: Quartz as a sedimentary mineral, phase transitions (UHP metamorphism¿links to subduction)
Practical. Reading melting phase diagrams, Quartz in hand specimens and thin sections

Week 7
Lecture 13. Carbonates (but based on chemical/biological processes)
Practical. Carbonates

Week 8
Chemical Equilibria
Lecture 14. Intro to thermodynamics and the phase rule: systems, phases, components and predicting equilibria.
Practical. The Phase Rule and its use: Introduction of Phase Diagrams.

Lecture 15. Thermodynamic state variables; laws of thermodynamics; enthalpy, entropy, free energy; the Clapeyron equation.
Practical. Calculation of the Al2SiO5 phase diagram

Week 9
Lecture 16. Invariant, univariant and divariant assemblages in P-T and composition-paragenesis diagrams; equilibrium vs stability; solid-solid vs fluid-present reactions; G-X diagrams.
Practical. Calculating and plotting G-X diagrams and phase diagrams in 3 component systems.

Lecture 17. Chemical potential, standard states, activities, fugacities; thermodynamics of impure phases; a-X relations for ideal solutions; the equilibrium constant; intro to ideal gases.
Practical. Calculating phase diagrams in impure systems.

Week 10
Lecture 18. Intro to thermodynamics at low T and chemical weathering. Application to mineral weathering.
Practcial. Construction of simple phase diagrams for silicate weathering.

Lecture 19. Introduction to kinetics and diffusion in minerals, its implications for Earth processes, closure temperature and dating Earth Processes.
Practical. Timescales of volcanic eruptions (assessed)
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Earth Dynamics (EASC08001)
Students MUST have passed:
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements If students have not taken Earth Dynamics, they will need the permission of the Course Organiser to take this course.
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2017/18, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  90
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 22, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 55, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 119 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessments are based on, written Exam: 50%, Course Work: 50 %, Practical Exam: 0%.
Written exam is in the end of the semester and covers all the materials from the course (Mineral Science (20%), Composition of the Earth (40%), and Chemical Equilibria (40%)).
Course works are two assessed practicals (Composition of the Earth (40%), Chemical Equilibria (40%)) and group poster presentation (20%)).

To pass the course students must achieve an overall mark of 40% or more. Students must also achieve a minimum of 40% in both the Degree examination and in the Classwork component to attain a pass overall, whatever their final aggregate mark.

A1 (90-100) = Excellent; outstanding (1st). A2 (89-90) = Excellent - a high 1st.
A3 (70-79) = Excellent; (1st). B (60-69) = Very good; (2.1). C (50-59) = Good; (2.2)
D (40-49) = Pass; (3rd). E (30-39) = Marginal fail. F (20-29) = Clear fail.
G (10-19) = Bad fail. H (0-9) = Very bad fail.

Assessed work completed in class time (Composition of the Earth) will be collected in, at the time, by the member of staff conducting the exercise. If you are present for the exercise it is your responsibility to place your completed write-up in the receptacle provided or to see that your test paper is presented to whoever is collecting the material. Assessed work done in your own time (Chemical Equilibria) will be submitted electronically on LEARN .

The deadline for each assessment is: end of the semester (written exam); Thursday/Friday of week 4 (Composition of the Earth); Thursday/Friday of week 6 (Group poster presentation); 12:00am on Monday of week 11 (Chemical Equilibria).
Feedback Coursework will be returned to students within a maximum of 2 weeks of the submission deadline, with individual feedback from instructors and with recommendations as to how students can improve their grades.
General class feedback is also given in practical classes or on LEARN course site.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)Geomaterials3:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)Geomaterials3:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. To gain a broad knowledge and understanding of the constituent materials which make up the solid Earth, and how the study of minerals can be used to understand the processes which have shaped the Earth throughout geological time.
  2. To identify, describe and interpret geomaterials from an atomic level to a hand specimen scale, and to be familiar with the foundations and application of modern methods used to study geomaterials: diffraction, optical mineralogy, electron microbeam analysis
  3. Have a broad understanding of the most important groups of minerals which constitute the Earth, and develop an understanding of the relations between different groups of materials, their occurrence, formation and stability, and how this information can be used to understand processes occurring on the Earth.
  4. To understand how stability of earth materials can be predicted and determined using thermodynamics, and how the rates of atomic processes govern Earth processes.
  5. Students are actively encouraged to discuss academic problems with fellow students and to work in collaboration: invaluable transferable skills. This course will develop students theoretical understanding of the study of Earth materials, observational and analytical skills, and numerical skills through lectures and lab-based practicals.
Reading List
Nesse, WD (2011) Introduction to Mineralogy. Oxford.
Anderson GM (2009) Thermodynamics of Natural Systems. Cambridge University Press.

Klein C (2007) Mineral Science. Wiley.
Klein C and Philpotts A (2016) Earth Materials. Cambridge University Press.
Deer, Howie & Zussmann (1992) An Introduction to the Rock Forming Minerals. Prentice Hall
Best MG (2002) Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology. Blackwell Science.
Gill R (2008) Chemical Fundamentals of Geology. Springer.
Ganguly, J. (2008) Thermodynamics in Earth and Planetary Sciences. Springer.
Cemic, L. Thermodynamics in Mineral Sciences
McKenzie & Guilford, Atlas of Rock-forming Minerals. Routledge
McKenzie & Adams, A Colour Atlas of Rocks and Minerals in Thin Section. Manson

Further reading
Putnis, A. Introduction to Mineral Sciences. Cambridge.
Langmuir D (1997). Aqueous Environmental Geochemistry. Prentice Hall.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Quantitative ability (through practical based mathematical calculations), observational and individual analytical skills (lab practicals) and group work through take-home class assessment exercises.
Additional Class Delivery Information Students take two lectures per week and EITHER Mon or Tues (2hr practical) and EITHER Thurs or Fri (3hr practical)
Course organiserDr Tetsuya Komabayashi
Tel: (0131 6)50 8518
Course secretaryMrs Nicola Clark
Tel: (0131 6)50 4842
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