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Solving geological problems requires unravelling what happened and when. Petrogenesis is literally 'the origin of rocks' and in this subject several essential tools geologists employ to unravel the complexity of earth processes using chemical information preserved in rocks and minerals will be presented. These include the major, trace element and isotopic compositions of rocks and minerals. Most of this subject relates to igneous processes, however many of the tools can be applied to a broad range of geological problems. These include dating the formation of sedimentary rocks and ore deposits, constraining the ages of metamorphic events, and unravelling palaeoclimate records.
In addition to learning the principles that underpin these techniques, emphasis is placed on how or when they are best applied. It is expected that by the end of the semester you will be able to explain how specific tools work and demonstrate both when it is appropriate, and how to apply them, to resolve petrogenetic problems.
Intended learning outcomes
On completion of this subject, students should be able to:
- Describe how the solid Earth, atmosphere and biosphere are considered in terms of chemical reservoirs, and the movement of material between those reservoirs.
- Describe how different groups of elements behave in contrasting ways during Earth processes, providing us with insights into Earth's differentiation and subsequent processes.
- Explain how isotopic systems can be used in the Earth Sciences to provide information about absolute age, to provide fingerprints of chemical reservoirs, and to constrain geological processes.
- Critically evaluate and integrate geochemical information to interpret geological histories.
- Research and synthesise the literature on a key question or topic in geochemistry.
In this subject, students should recognise the importance of integrating the knowledge and skills obtained through years of study to tackle new and unfamiliar problems. This will require critical thinking and the organisation of materials delivered in lectures, together with the development of problem-solving skills via the laboratory exercises.
The group assignment is designed to enhance the ability for students to work as part of a team as well as improve their oral communication skills. The individual written assignment will provide an opportunity for students to further develop their written communication skills.
Last updated: 9 September 2021