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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Earth Dynamics (EASC08001)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryVolcanoes, earthquakes, mountain chains and the diversity of the Earth's rocks tell us that the Earth has been a dynamic planet since its formation 4.6 billion years ago. This course has two main aims: to impart an understanding of the processes which shape the Earth, and to develop practical skills in recognising the evidence of these processes in rocks, both in the field and in the laboratory. The course will have a primary focus on the materials of which the Earth is made, how the major constituents are distributed between core, mantle and crust and how this changes with time through the agencies of plate tectonics and volcanism. Geological resources, from energy, to minerals, and water, are essential for all aspects of society. How these resources are categorised, and where they are they formed is part of our fundamental understanding of the Earth as an integrated system.
Course description Week 1.
L1- Course Introduction. Earth in space and its Solar System context. Meteorites, volcanoes and the materials and composition of the Earth (Kirstein)
L2 - Earth through time: an introduction to the evolution of the Earth, geological time and the evidence for a 4550 million year old planet (Kirstein)
L3 - Earth Structure. An introduction to the lithosphere and asthenosphere, heat flow, the evidence for plate tectonics, and continental versus oceanic plates (Hollis)

Week 2.
L4 - Constructive plate margins. Plate boundaries, sea floor spreading, oceanic crust and magnetic anomalies (Hollis)
L5 - Destructive plate margins: Subduction zones, continental collision and orogenesis (Hollis)
L6 - Plate Motion and sedimentary processes (Hollis)
Practical 1: Rocks: hand specimens.
FIELD TRIP 1: Saturday OR Sunday end of Week 2: PEASE BAY & SICCAR POINT. ATTENDANCE IS COMPULSORY. Meet at Appleton Tower, ready to depart at 09:30, return ca. 17:00.

Week 3.
L7 - Isostasy and tectonic driving forces (Hollis)
L8 - Continental rifting and sedimentation (Hollis)
L9 - Introduction to geophysics, seismology and the structure of the Earth. Importance of geophysics, and investigation of the structure of the deep earth through seismology (Main)
Practical 2: The nature of the lithosphere and asthenosphere

Week 4.
L10 - Earthquakes and seismotectonics. Different types of waves which travel through the Earth, and examine how seismology can be used to locate, measure and understand earthquakes (Main)
L11 - Refraction and reflection seismology. Differences between refraction and reflection seismology and how each technique allows us to comprehend the subsurface. Using active seismology to assess near surface solid earth structures (Main)
L12- Magnetism. Earth's magnetic field, geophysical techniques which use magnetic properties of the solid Earth to understand geological processes (plate tectonics, sea-floor spreading etc) (Main)
Practical 3: Aspects of the motions of lithospheric plates

Week 5.
L13 - Gravity measurements, how certain corrections needs to be applied to measurements to yield useful results, and what the results mean to understanding the subsurface (Main)
L14 - Magmas and igneous rocks; why volcanoes form; igneous intrusions (Fitton)
L15 - Volcanoes and volcanic hazards (Fitton)
Practical 4: Be a Seismologist
FIELD TRIP 2: Saturday OR Sunday end of Week 5: Holyrood Park, Edinburgh. ATTENDANCE IS COMPULSORY. Meet at 09:30 sharp at the grassy parkland area near the roundabout just inside from the St Leonards / Pollock Halls entrance to Holyrood Park. Field trip ends at approximately 13:00 pm.

Week 6.
L16 - Introduction to rock-forming minerals (Fitton)
L17 - Basic crystallography (Fitton)
L18 - Composition and texture of igneous rocks; mineralogy and classification (Fitton)
Practical 5: Introduction to a microscope- optical mineralogy.

Week 7.
L19 - Magma evolution and fractional crystallisation (Fitton)
L20 - Supervolcanoes, hot-spots and large igneous provinces (Fitton)
L21 - Non-silicate minerals; economic mineral deposits (Fitton)
Practical 6. Salisbury Crags exercise; Salisbury Crags dolerite under the microscope; Top-ten silicate minerals.

Week 8.
L22 -Deformation of rocks: Stress, strain and deformation markers. Brittle and ductile behaviour and their manifestations, faults, shear zones and folds. (Kirstein)
L23 - Metamorphism: The process of metamorphism. Change in mineralogy and texture to yield new rocks from old. Recrystallisation, reaction, equilibrium. The main metamorphic rock types. (Kirstein)
L24 - Metamorphic rocks and minerals: The key metamorphic minerals in rocks of shale-like composition. Factors of metamorphism: Pressure (P), temperature (T), fluids and strain. Timescale as a key parameter (Kirstein)
Practical 7: Igneous rocks in hand specimen and under the microscope; fractional crystallisation exercise; non-silicate minerals in hand specimen.

Week 9.
L25 - Contact Metamorphism - aureoles, thermal gradients and mineral zones in pelites. Isograds and index minerals. The Ballachulish example (Kirstein)
L26 - Regional metamorphism, its scale and importance. Barrows zones, mineral isograds and index minerals; relations to P-T diagrams and mineral stabilities (Kirstein)
L27 - Geological resources. Types of resources. Minerals and geological processes; Environmental Services, air and water; Impact on human welfare through history (Haszeldine)
Practical 8: Deformation in the Earth, Metamorphic rocks and minerals.

Week 10.
L28 - Fossil energy, natural processes of genesis, maturation and concentration. Unconventional hydrocarbons. Extraction methods and impacts of use, such as air quality, radiation, climate change (Haszeldine)
L29 - Minerals: process styles of enrichment; sedimentary, industrial, metallic and Rare. Technology demands, trade, security of supply (Haszeldine)
L30 - Water resources and supplies in UK and globally, processing demands, population change. Ocean acidification and sea level change. Outlook for human control or adaptation, mining sea bed and asteroids (Haszeldine)
Practical 9: catch-up week.

Week 11.
Revision week - Revision question and answer session with course lecturers. Date and time to be announced later.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for 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. identify sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks and explain how they form
  2. understand the internal divisions of the Earth, its dynamic evolution via plate tectonic processes and the timescales at which these processes operate
  3. explain the formation and exploration of geological resources
  4. apply laboratory practical skills including hand specimen and thin section analysis
  5. record fieldwork observations in a field notebook and make interpretations in terms of Earth process
Reading List
Please see current reading list for the course at:
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserProf Linda Kirstein
Course secretaryMr Johan De Klerk
Tel: (0131 6)50 7010
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