Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Geochemistry of the Primary and Secondary Environments
Academic Year
Semester 2
Succesful completion of Semester 1 MSc course
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 11 x 4 Hour Lectures


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 15 min oral presentation on the geochemical behaviour of an element  5%
Semester Assessment Report on the geochemical behaviour of an element, 2,500 words  20%
Semester Assessment Continuous assessment of 8 laboratory practical exercises  75%
Supplementary Assessment Presentation marks to be carried forward. Resubmit elements of coursework.  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Demonstrate an understanding of the factors which control the distribution of elements in the primary and secondary environments

Derive from first principles information concerning the solubility, stability and behaviour of elements in the secondary environment

Identify, retrieve and interpret information on the geochemistry of a particular element

Summarise and present relevant geochemical information to an audience

Make rational, scientific judgements on the validity and application of particular numerical methods to solving a range of geocehmical problems


Themes covered include:

  1. Bulk earth chemical composition
  2. Geochemical conventions and the structural controls on element distribution
  3. Crystallisation and melting - major and trace element behaviour
  4. Radioactivity and radiometric age determination
  5. Environmental and exploration geochemical data sets - backgrounds and thresholds
  6. Geochemistry of solutions 1
  7. Geochemistry of solutions 2
  8. Applied thermodynamics

Brief description

A Masters level module which provides an introduction to the processes which distribute elements within the primary environment (i.e. within the bulk Earth) including the primary processes of melting and fractional crystallisation to cause variations in chemistry of custral rocks. Once these primary porcesses have been considered the course moves on to consider the behavious of elements in the secondary environment, particularly aqueous geochemistry and the chemical, physical and thermodynamic controls which govern element behaviour in the surface environment.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Numerical exercises are incorporated into most practical exercises, including modeling of geochemical data, solution geochemistry and thermodynamic calculations.
Communication Oral presentation on geochemistry of an element
Improving own Learning and Performance Developed independent work associated with practical classes
Information Technology Use of computers and spreadsheets for performing/plotting geochemical data. Students will have to search the internet for information on the geochemistry of an element, as a backup to literature sources. The information will be included in the final report on the geochemistry of a particular element. An element of the assessment will be assigned to the appropriate use of information gained from searches.
Personal Development and Career planning Discussion with staff involved concerning relevance of examples to real life applications, and relevance to careers.
Problem solving Yes, numerical problems involved in practical exercises
Research skills Yes, researching and applying methods for presentation and interpretation of geochemical data. Researching the geochemical behaviour of one particular element.
Subject Specific Skills Applications to a range of numerical modeling methods for the interpretation of both solid Earth and aqueous data, including fractional crystallisation and melting, solution geochemistry (solubility, saturation) and thermodynamics.


This module is at CQFW Level 7