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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Practical Geochemistry and Data Analysis (EASC10103)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will provide an overview of a range of geochemical tools used on GeoSciences, and will provide practical hands-on experience of the procedures required to produce geochemical data. The course will also provide training in the use of computer programming and its application to data analysis using geochemical examples. The course will develop students' ability in generation and testing of scientific hypotheses and in the communication of scientific findings through report writing.
Course description May be subject to change

Week 1: Basic Programming and Data Visualisation
Week 2: Regression
Week 3: Multivariate Regression (online programming test)
Week 4: Time Series Analysis
Week 5: Spatial Correlations
Week 6: Numerical solution of differential equations
Week 7: Probability
Week 8: Overview

Geochemical Theory: Semester 1, Weeks 1-8 (1.5 hour lecture/practicals)
Week 1: Background/Introduction to the use of geochemistry in GeoSciences
Week 2: Element portioning 1
Week 3: Element portioning 2 (+practical 1.5 hours)
Week 4: Stable isotope fractionation (theory)
Week 5: Stable isotope fractionation (practice) (+practical 1.5 hours)
Week 6: Radioactive decay and geochronology (+practical 1.5 hours)
Week 7: Radiogenic isotopes/paleoceanography/and sampling (+practical 1.5 hours)
Week 8: Interpreting sediment Geochemistry (EG students); Radiogenic isotopes and dating (Geol students)
Week 10: Revision seminar

Laboratory measurements: Semester 1, week 10 and Semester 2 Weeks 1-5 (3 hour sessions, effectively 1/2 days) [ the timing of these analytical sessions will likely have to be spread out over Sem 1 and 2 due to availability of facilities and time available for students to prepare samples.
Semester 1, Week 10:
Introduction to geochemical methods and introduction to the mini-project (EG/Geology specific)
Students placed into groups of 4

Semester, Weeks 1-4
Each group will do 4 types of geochemical measurement: XRF/XRD, ICP (or solution based analysis), SEM (image and spot analyses), Colourimetry or Titration

Each group will have 3 hours of supervision per technique to prepare samples for analysis. This preparation time will include a brief description of the physics that underpins each of the measurement techniques. This background on each of the methods will be reinforced with online learning materials and a short online test.

Mini-project write-up support (Semester 2, weeks 5-8)
Week 5: 1st mini-project tutorial (1/2 hour)
Groups of 4 will present their data to a tutor and will outline what scientific questions their reports will be based around.

Semester 2: Week 6 Lecture on Report writing

Semester 2: weeks 6-7 Individual tutorial (1/2 hour)
Each student will bring revised scientific questions with proposed/initial data analyses for feedback and guidance.

Semester 2: weeks 8 or 9 Hand in final Report

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Geomaterials (EASC08021) AND Earth Modelling and Prediction 2 (EASC08018) AND Global Tectonics and the Rock Cycle (EASC08020) OR Environmental Geochemistry of the Earth's Surface (EASC08024)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students may have passed an equivalent of Earth Modelling and Prediction 2 (EASC08018)
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2017/18, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Full Year
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 13, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 1, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 39, Revision Session Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 142 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 25 %, Coursework 75 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Written exam 25%
Coursework 75%

Assessment will consist of:
1. Online programming test (semester 1, week 3 or 4) 25%
3. Exam (end of sem 1) 25%
4. Mini Project Report (submitted sem 2) 50%

In class programming test sem 1 week 9
Theory exam sem 1 Dec diet
Preliminary report submission sem 2 week 6
Final report submission sem 2 week 9

Feedback Feedback on the programming aspect of the course will be provided during the practical sessions.

Feedback on geochemical theory will be provided in a revision session and via Q&A hosted on a Learn discussion forum.

Feedback on the analytical project hypotheses constructions and write up will be via a set of tutorials in semester 2.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)1:30
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Develop an understanding of the fundamental science that underpins a range of inorganic geochemistry tools for Earth Scientists
  2. Appreciate the processes that are required to extract accurate geochemical data from natural samples
  3. Acquire skills in computer programming
  4. Develop an understanding of a range of data processing/analysis techniques and the ability to determine suitable data analysis approaches to test hypotheses
  5. Be able to identify suitable scientific objectives that can be addressed with geochemical measurements, and suitable data analysis
Reading List
William M. White. (n.d.). Geochemistry.
Francis Albarède. (2009). Geochemistry: An Introduction (Second edition..). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hugh R. Rollinson (Hugh Richard), 1949-. (1993). Using geochemical data: evaluation, presentation, interpretation. Harlow: Longman Scientific & Technical.
John C. Davis. (2002). Statistics and data analysis in geology (Third edition..). New York; Chichester: John Wiley.
Steve McKillup. (2010). Geostatistics Explained: An Introductory Guide for Earth Scientists. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ellam Rob. (2016). Isotopes: A Very Short Introduction (1st ed., p. 152).
David. Waltham. (2000). Mathematics: a simple tool for geologists (Second edition..). Oxford: Blackwell Science.
Essential maths for geoscientists: an introduction. (2014). Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
Tom Scott. (n.d.). One simple interview question. YouTube.

Additional Journal articles will be provided for relevant lectures
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsGeomaterials,Evolution of the Living Earth,Earth Modelling and Prediction
Course organiserDr Alex Thomas
Tel: (0131 6)50 8749
Course secretaryMiss Eilein Fraser
Tel: (0131 6)50 5430
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