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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
This subject builds upon many skills you have already developed in first and second year. The application of geochemical data requires you to have a sound background in field observations, a broad knowledge of rock-forming processes, and an ability to identify minerals (and interpret textural information) preserved in thin-section.
For those wishing to pursue their study of Earth processes and petrogenesis, almost all third-year Geology subjects will deal with this in some form, and many Masters projects will draw upon topics included in this subject. In addition, the broad application of skills similar to those you will learn about in this subject are frequently well-illustrated in departmental seminars. You are strongly encouraged to form the habit of attending these.
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: 22 January 2021