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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Environmental Geochemistry of the Earth's Surface (EASC08024)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course focuses on geochemistry of natural waters as imprinted by its interaction with local geology, biology and during mixing with sea water. It takes an integrated view of the chemical environments of natural waters and the processes that govern them.
Course description Lecture suite: Controls on geochemistry of natural waters

Introduction, course rationale and environmental context (1) BTN
Controls on the composition of natural waters and classification (2) BTN
Forms of natural dissolved substances in natural waters (3) BTN
Colloids/ mineral surface chemistry surface adsorption reactions (4) BTN
Energy demand for geochemical reactions, reaction pathways and rate determining reactions (5) BTN
Sources of energy for natural reactions in the natural environments (6) BTN
Autotrophic Metabolism: Living off sunlight and inorganic substances (7) - GLC
Heterotrophic metabolism: Living off organic compounds (8) GLC
Organic matter cycling in natural environments (9-11) GLC
Estuarine Circulation (12) RSG
Estuarine Sedimentation (13) RSG
Estuarine Chemistry: Basics (14) RSG
Estuarine Chemistry: Metals (15) RSG
Estuarine Chemistry: Carbon (16) RSG
Estuarine Chemistry: Nitrogen (17) RSG
Estuarine Human Impacts/Exam Overview (18) RSG
Field & Data module: Sediment and mine water geochemistry
Environmental sampling and analysis (20) BTN & RSG
Designing a field campaign
Geochemical data analysis and interpretation
ci: Bio-elements and isotopes 3 hrs
cii: Major and Trace elements 3hrs
ciii: geochemical modelling of porewater profiles

Minewater pollution and treatment (21) (BTN)
Minewater generation, chemistry and classification
Treatment options and design

Weekend residential field trip, data synthesis and reporting (BTN/RSG/GLC).

The course focusses on geochemistry of natural water as imprinted by its interaction with local geology. It takes an integrated view of natural and biological (anthropogenic) interactions that shape the earth's surface.Significantly, the approach is based on integrating theoretical geochemistry with practical skills such as (i) data processing and statistical analysis, (ii) geochemical modelling, (iii) environmental remediation.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Earth Dynamics (EASC08001) AND Evolution of the Living Earth (EASC08023)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Higher Chemistry
Additional Costs Three day fieldtrip to the Lake District. Please note, the School subsidy of providing 50% of the cost applies to core courses only, students taking field courses as an elective pay the full cost.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  28
Course Start Semester 1
Course Start Date 17/09/2018
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 18, Fieldwork Hours 16, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 2, Formative Assessment Hours 2, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 136 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Written Exam: 50%, Course Work: 50 % (35% for lab reports and 15% for fieldtrip report), Practical Exam: 0%.

There will be an exam in December consisting of a mixture of short answer questions and essay questions. The course work will be based on written reports on each of the practicals carried out during laboratory sessions, plus a 2500 word report synthesising and interpreting data collected during the Keswick weekend fieldtrip.

Assessment deadlines
Both Laboratory and Fieldwork reports should be submitted as a single document by 12noon on the Thursday of week 9.

Feedback The course includes laboratory practical sessions for which you will submit written reports. The first of these will be used for formative feedback to allow you to improve on subsequent reports. You will also receive on-going feedback from demonstrators during and after practical sessions.

We plan to hold 1-2 tutorials during exam revision season. During these sessions, we will review the type of questions likely to come up in the exam and discuss how best to tackle them.
In semester 2, the course team will be available to discuss examination scripts.

Examples of feedback can be found here:
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)2:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Consolidate knowledge of chemical concepts in Environmental Geochemistry
  2. Integrate theoretical concepts with their practical applications
  3. Design and carry out a sampling campaign for environmental analysis
  4. Acquire skills in geochemical speciation modelling
  5. Be cognisant of skills in Technical report writing, critical appraisal of analytical data and accounting for uncertainties when drawing conclusions, appreciation of assumptions required for modelling.
Reading List
D. Langmuir: Aqueous Environmental Geochemistry
J.I. Drever: Geochemistry of Natural Waters
J.E. Andrews et al: An Introduction to Environmental Chemistry
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Field design and sampling
Laboratory analysis and statistical data analysis
Geochemical speciation modelling
Additional Class Delivery Information Two lectures per week. One practical per week from weeks 1-5. One computer workshop per week in weeks 6 and 7.
KeywordsEnvironmental geochemistry,Earth's Surface,Aqueous environments,biogeochemistry,minewater chemis
Course organiserDr Bryne Ngwenya
Tel: (0131 6)50 8524
Course secretaryMrs Nicola Clark
Tel: (0131 6)50 4842
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