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Semester 1

Earth Dynamics (EASC08001)


Earth Science





Normal Year Taken


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Course Summary

Volcanoes, 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 (De Hoog)L2 - Earth through time: an introduction to the evolution of the Earth, geological time and the evidence for a 4550 million year old planet (De Hoog)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 (Bell)Practical 2: The nature of the lithosphere and asthenosphereWeek 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 (Bell)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 (Bell)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) (Bell)Practical 3: Aspects of the motions of lithospheric platesWeek 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 (Bell)L14 - Magmas and igneous rocks; why volcanoes form; igneous intrusions (Fitton)L15 - Volcanoes and volcanic hazards (Fitton)Practical 4: Be a SeismologistFIELD 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. (De Hoog)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. (De Hoog)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 (De Hoog)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. (De Hoog)L26 - Regional metamorphism, its scale and importance. Barrows zones, mineral isograds and index minerals; relations to P-T diagrams and mineral stabilities (De Hoog)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.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 60%, Coursework 40%, Practical Exam 0%

Additional Assessment Information

Written Exam: 60%, Course Work: 40% Course Work: Practical Folder 1: 30% of CW, Practical Folder 2: 40%, Field Notebook: 30% You must pass both components (Written Exam and Course Work) to obtain an overall pass Course Work.The coursework comprises of a notebook write up from the course field trip to Holyrood Park along with two practical workbooks. The first practical workbook mark will be based on work completed the first set of practicals (Block 1, Week 2-5), the second on work completed in the second set of practicals (Block 2, Weeks 6-10). Your practical books will be submitted online for marking mid-way through the semester (end of Week 5 to beginning of Week 6) and following your Week 10 practical. Incomplete practicals or practical workbooks will be penalised (unless waived by the formal special circumstances committee).In addition to the practical workbook you are required to submit your field notebook for marking after each field trip. The first submission will allow you to receive formative feedback, the second submission will be marked and will contribute towards your overall course work mark. Both submissions will happen online through Learn. Written Exam (Theory Examination): A two-hour theory exam based on short answers will be held at the end of Semester 1, during the December Exam Diet. Further information will be provided on this in due course. The Semester 1 Theory examination will be worth 60% of your final mark. The theory re-sit examination will be held in August 2020. If you fail to pass both components at first attempt the following will happen: Fail coursework, pass exam: Alternative coursework will be assigned which requires all exercises in the practical folder to be completed AND extra petrographic description work (final coursework mark: Practical Folder 1: 25%, Practical Folder 2: 35%, Extra exercise 10%, Field Notebook: 30%). Deadline to submit re-sit work via Learn will be circa week 10 of semester 2. Exam mark stands no resit allowed. Fail exam, pass course work: Resit exam in August exam diet; Coursework mark carried forward. Fail exam, fail coursework: both of the above. Marks should be regarded as provisional until after the final examiner s board meeting, which will be held in January and August for any re-sit marks. All details related to extensions procedures and late penalties can be found in the School of Geosciences Handbook, which can be found on the Learn UG Student Information Hub, or contact your School Student Support Team.

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