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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Field Skills for Geologists (EASC09031)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 9 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis is a two-week field course to Inchnadamph in North West Scotland.

The course teaches the wide array of field skills needed by Geoscience students, including mapping, structural analysis and reconstruction, quantitative field skills and methods of data collection.

The course develops an understanding of the relationship between surface and subsurface data and increases the ability of students to gather pertinent data from rock outcrops and surface features.

Mapping work is undetaken on two areas, one approximately 1.5 km2 in size, in week 1; and the other about 3 km2 in size, in week 2. Students spend 8 days on work directly related to these mapping exercises, complemented by 3 days of supporting field investigations. Two days are devoted to data analysis and report production.
Course description This course is entirely field trip-based. The 13 field and write-up days are devoted to the following exercises.

1. Overview field excursion setting the scene and providing underpinning information on the geology Crags to Coast.

2. One day microcosm map exercise along Loch Assynt. This develops basic skills in map-making, field documentation and observation. Mapping of gneiss, a landscape unconformity, and overlying sandstones/arkoses. Rock identification. Follow-up map inked-in in the evening is inspected and formative feedback provided.

3. Three days mapping integrated with geometric analysis and prediction using stratum contours. Skiaig Bridge-Creag Skithaig area, Loch Assynt. Identification and mapping of 5-6 units, one square kilometre in area. The mapping is accompanied by the logging of representative sedimentary units integrated as a natural part of field documentation. This in total will enable the production of a completed map of the area, true-scale cross sections, and correct unit thicknesses. These are synthesised into a report and all (report, sections, logs, maps) are handed in for initial assessment on day eight of the field trip. Formative feedback is provided along with an indicative grade (on the honours scale) on this suite of work during the second week of the field course.

4. 2 days days of structural mapping and observation within the frontal area of the Moine Thrust Belt, coupled with analysis of the observed structures. Repeated horizons (imbricates) of 3 units from the Cambrian sedimentary succession are traced up a burn, mapped across to another burn using scattered outcrops and geomorphic features, and the structure of the repeated units analysed using thrust principles. A folded limestone unit is mapped, with up to 30 measurements taken of its limbs and hinge area, and the data then analysed using structural stereonets. The resulting outputs from the sturctural work: the imbricates map, and stereonet and block diagram of the fold, are submitted as part of the overall assessment of the course at the end of week 2.

5. One day field trip to examine the geological history of the Lewisian basement gneisses of the Assynt area. This day trip concentrates on observation, documentation and interpretation of event sequences and cross-cutting relationships in deformed high-grade basement rocks.

6. Four days mapping in the Ullapool River Valley, an area bearing some similarity with those already mapped in week 1 but with additional complications and units. This work is written up on the final day and a report, cross-section(s) and map prepared for submission as part of the final assessment. The work previously submitted at the end of week one (item (3)) and returned to students during week 2 is submitted again along with material produced for (4) and (6) for final summative assessment.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Global Tectonics and the Rock Cycle (EASC08020) AND Geomaterials (EASC08021)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs Contribution to the field work costs in 2014 was 190
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesThis course is not available to visiting students.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. You will develop a broad integrated knowledge of the geology of the Assynt region and its place in the geological evolution of NW Britain.
  2. You will develop and enhance field skills required for the effective documentation and interpretation of rock outcrops and other forms of surface geological data. These skills will include geological mapping, structural analysis using 3D projections and geometrical principles, cross-section construction, sediment logging, and quantitative methods of data collection.
  3. You will develop your skills in visualising map and related field data in three dimensions using appropriate graphical techniques.
  4. You will develop an appreciation of the degree of uncertainty of the data collection methods and the relationship between surface and subsurface data.
  5. You will develop your skills in synthesising the geology of an area through the integrated use of maps, cross-sections, diagrams and accompanying reports.
Reading List
Goodenough, K.M. & Krabbendam, M. (2011). A Geological Excursion Guide to the North-West Highlands of Scotland. Edinburgh. Edinburgh Geological Society (in association with National Museums Scotland). 215 pp.
Trewin, N.H. (ed.) (2002). The Geology of Scotland. London. The Geological Society of London.
Woodcock, N. & Strachan, R.A. (eds.) (2000). Geological History of Britain and Ireland. Oxford. Blackwell Science.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information The course is a fully field-based course held from the final Thursday of May for two weeks.
KeywordsInch 1
Course organiserProf Simon Harley
Tel: (0131 6)50 8547
Course secretaryMs Casey Hollway
Tel: (0131 6)50 8510
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