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This subject examines man-made perturbations in a range of environmental systems by determining changes to physical-chemical processes at the Earth’s surface. Case studies are presented discussing issues such as groundwater drawdown from mining, ocean acidification from rising CO2 in the atmosphere, acid mine drainage and the risks and benefits of geological CO2 storage and of unconventional gas production. The underlying processes are illustrated and the impacts are both qualitatively and quantitatively assessed, for example, by using a mass balance approach, reconstructing the groundwater flow field or by deriving imposed changes to chemical reactions and reaction rates at the Earth surface. Time scales of current perturbations are examined in the context of environmental changes in the geological past.
Intended learning outcomes
The students will acquire broad knowledge about man-made perturbations to physical-chemical processes at the Earth surface related to the utilisation of geo-resources. The practical classes will foster a rigorous, critical and logical approach to problem-solving. Students will learn the fundamentals of environmental physical conditions (e.g. hydrostatic gradient, sedimentation on the continental shelf, hydrodynamics and geomorphology of estuaries) and will be taught the basics of chemical/mineralogical/microbial driven reactions and mass transfer (fluid-rock equilibrium, global carbon cycle, regional nutrient and water budgets). Students learn the methodology to assess some of the impacts of human changes to environmental processes.
Students will have the opportunity to gain/practice the following generic skills:
- critical thinking
- data analysis using Excel and interpretation
- problem solving
- assignment writting
Last updated: 10 December 2019