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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. These are essentially two different subject areas. The sedimentology component will build on second year course material, whereas the palaeontology component will be more introductory.
The palaeontology and sedimentology stands will achieve effective synergy in the context of four dedicated half-day fieldtrips to Palaeozoic rocks in the vicinity of Edinburgh.

***Field course locations may change for a variety of reasons, including security risks, increased costs or inability to access field locations. Any changes to the main destination of the field course will be announced as soon as possible.***
Course description Palaeontology component

Mon 17th 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 24th Sept. Steve Brusatte, Alastair Robertson and course demonstrators
Excursion to Pentland Hills: Silurian, brachiopods, trilobites, crinoids, corals, sponges, bryozoans, etc. in the context of fore-arc basin sedimentation related to subduction of the Iapetus ocean.
Note-trips may be swapped to take account of e.g. tides or adverse weather conditions in the hills.

Fieldtrip Mon 1nd October Steve Brusatte, Alastair Robertson
Excursion to Dobb┐s Lin: Ordovician graptolites in the context of deep-sea organic-rich deposits and terrigenous turbidites that accumulated in a trench setting related to subduction of the Iapetus ocean)

Fieldtrip Mon 8th October Steve Brusatte, Alastair Robertson
Excursion to Fife: Carboniferous, brachiopods, crinoids, bryozoans, etc. in the context of tropical shallow- marine sedimentation within the Midland Valley extensional basin.

Fieldtrip Mon 15th October Steve Brusatte, Alastair Robertson, Rachel Wood
Excursion to East Lothian: Carboniferous, biostratigraphic exercise in the context of tropical shallow-marine sedimentation again within the Midland Valley extensional basin.

Lecture Mon 22nd Oct Steve Brusatte Lectures on major evolutionary transitions and evolution in deep time
Note-date may be swapped related to staff availability.

Lecture & Practical Steve Brusatte Mon 29th Oct. Mass extinctions and biodiversity patterns
Note-date may be swapped related to staff availability.

Lecture Mon 16th Nov. Dick Kroon Micropalaeontology: mass extinctions as evidenced in microfossils; study of samples from before and after the Cretaceous-Paleogene impact,
Note-date may be swapped related to staff availability.

Mon 12th Nov. Steve Brusatte, Alastair Robertson and course demonstrators (examining)
Group presentations of fieldtrip results (see below).

Presentation of 1500 words length: introduction (100 words), sedimentology (500 words), five fossils (800 words). Length does not include illustrations or literature references.

*** Fieldtrips: 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 or other issues please inform Steve Brusatte as soon as possible. Order of 2-4th fieldtrips may be changed owing e.g. to tides ***

Sedimentology component

Wed 19 Sept Rachel Wood
L - Principles and application of sequence stratigraphy
P - Practical application of sequence stratigraphy (including specific geological examples)
Course feedback; practice degree exam question. Prepare an essay-style answer to the question:
Explain, with figures, the difference between lithostratigraphy and sequence stratigraphy┐

Notes: Write an up to 1500-word essay on the above topic drawing on the lecture material and on related literature as directed by Rachel Wood. You may supplement this with your own literature search if you wish.

Figures should include brief captions and be referred in the text of your answer. References consulted should be listed briefly at the end (not counted in word count). The answers will be marked and you will receive feedback with the aim of improving your degree exam answers.
Answers to be handed in to the Grant Institute TO by 10.30 am on Wednesday 22nd November.

Wed 26th Sept Alastair Robertson
L - Role of chemical systems and processes: 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.

Wed 3rd Oct Stuart Haszeldine
L - Components of terrigenous clastic sediments. Different classification schemes and their applications to sediment provenance.
P - Examination of clastic sediments using the petrographic microscope.

Wed 10th Oct 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.

Wed 18th Oct Alastair Robertson
L Role of chemical systems and processes: Chert nomenclature and occurrence; chemical controls; silica diagenesis; controls on silica accumulation and chert formation in the stratigraphical record;
P Thin sections and chert samples

Wed 24th October Alastair Robertson
L Evaporites. Modern occurrences; sabkhas; barred basins (e.g. Messinian of Mediterranean, Permian of Zechstein). Evaporite diagenesis; importance in stratigraphical record
P Demonstration and thin sections of evaporates

Wed 31st Oct Rachel Wood
L Carbonates: a) Carbonate sedimentary rocks through time; b) Carbonate depositional environments: exposure surfaces; fresh-water; temperate shallow-sea; and deep-sea.
P 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.

Wed Nov 8th Rachel Wood
Carbonates contd. 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

Wed Nov 14th Rachel Wood
Carbonates contd. 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.

Wed Nov 21st Rachel Wood
Carbonates (concluded) 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

Wed 21st November 11.30-12.00 Class Practical Test (in normal practical time)
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Global Tectonics and the Rock Cycle (EASC08020)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, 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) Palaeontology component of the course assessment: 50% of the mark will come from the written exam and 50% from coursework. Of this 40 % is for the report and 10% for the group presentation.

The written exam (in a single paper with sedimentology but in two different sections) 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 group's site, which includes: 1) a brief background on the age, location (100 words), and importance of the site; 2) a summary of the sedimentology of the site (500 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 (800 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, regional geological setting and any other relevant information. Be creative! The individual reports will be handed in on that same day as the presentations (as above).

Sedimentology component of the course assessment:
80% of the assessment will come from the written exam and 20% from the coursework (excluding the contribution to the written report and group presentation, as above).

There will be a choice of essay-style questions in the degree exam (see above).
20% of the sedimentology mark will come from the class practical exam. This is a 20-minute test on the practical material of the sedimentological part of the course to be held in the scheduled practical class time on Wednesday 21st November 11.30-12.00 (in normal practical time)
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.
  3. Integrate aspects of palaeontology and sedimentology in the context of the geological development if the Palaeozoic of the Edinburgh area.
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 secretaryMs Ashley Stein
Tel: (0131 6)50 8510
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