Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 Hours. 1 hour lectures.


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Multiple short answer examination.  100%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Same format.  100%

Learning Outcomes

On succesful completion of this module, students should demonstrate knowledge of :-

  • the origin of the chemical elements and their behaviour on Earth
  • the interaction of geological systems and chemical elements
  • the structure of the Earth with its chemical evolution
  • the driving forces for the present day tectonics of the planet
  • basic geophysical methods of investigating the inner structure of the Earth
  • Plate Tectonics and an ability to demonstrate how a knowledge of plate processes helps in determining the gross scale distribution of rocks, minerals, fossils and tectonic features


The aim of this module is to establish the chemical and physical framework of the Earth and to show how this framework has controlled the geological development of the Earth including the major features of present continental and oceanic areas.

Brief description

The module will describe the origin of the solar system and outline the theories which have been used to account for the formation of the Sun, Earth and other planets. The chemistry of the major groups of meteorites will be introduced and their importance in understanding the Earth's evolution will be covered. The origin of chemical elements and their sequence of condensation will be introduced and this information, together with the evidence gained from the study of meteorites, will be used to describe the chemical evolution of the Earth.

The chemical and structural evolution of the Earth will be considered leading to an understanding of the present day distribution of elements within the planet.

The geophysical methods of investigating internal structures of the Earth will be described. This section of the course will cover aspects of: Seismic geophysics including the study of seismic waves as a form of energy and factors controlling the passage of seismic waves in the Earth. Earthquakes as a source of seismic energy will be discussed and the derivation of fault movements and stress regimes from seismological data will be described. Historical aspects of seismic studies will be covered including the discoveries of the major structures within the Earth. The latter part of this section will introduce the concept of the Lithosphere and Asthenosphere.

In the lectures on magnetic studies the Earth's magnetic field will be described, its behaviour, in geological time discussed and the application of magnetism preserved in rocks will be explained. The periodical reversals of the Earth's magnetic field will be described leading to an understanding of the reversal time scale.

In the lectures on gravity the acceleration due to gravity and its measurement will be described. Isostacy will be introduced and its implications for the vertical and lateral movement of the outer part of the Earth described.

The lectures on Earth chemistry and physics will lead into the description of Plate Tectonics. The history and concept of continental drift will be described and the origin of major Earth features will be discussed in a plate tectonic framework using both modern and ancient examples.

Reading List

Recommended Text
Press, F., Siever, R., Grotzinger, J. & Jordan, T.H. (2004) Understanding Earth 4th W.H. Freeman Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 4