Module Information

Module Identifier
GS32120
Module Title
Sedimentary Environments
Academic Year
2020/2021
Co-ordinator
Semester
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

 

Assessment

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Written report 1  (500 word report on laboratory-based exercise)  20%
Semester Assessment Written report 2  (2000 word report on fieldwork)  40%
Semester Exam 1.5 Hours   (‘open book’ unseen exam)  40%
Supplementary Assessment Written report 1  (500 word report on laboratory-based exercise)  20%
Supplementary Assessment Written report 2  (2000 word report on fieldwork)  40%
Supplementary Exam 1.5 Hours   (‘open book’ unseen exam)  40%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Outline the fundamental controls on sedimentary processes and products (erosion, transport, deposition);

2. apply terminology, concepts and methods of sediment and sedimentary rock observation, description, classification and interpretation in both laboratory and field settings;

3. assess and interpret evidence for environmental change in sediment or sedimentary rock sections in the field, or from published accounts of modern or ancient sediments;

4. evaluate the relative importance of natural factors (e.g. climate, tectonics, sea level) and human activities in influencing sedimentary environments.

Brief description

Sediments and sedimentary rocks act as an archive of the Earth’s surface environments during any given period. They document its main agents of landscape change, record its current and former climate, and act as a useful blueprint for any future changes our planet may face. This course will provide you with the tools to interrogate a diverse range of terrestrial and marine sedimentary processes and products. We will explore how they vary in time and space, consider the internal and external controls which influence these dynamic sedimentary systems (e.g. climate, tectonics, sea level, human activity), and examine how to disentangle the interaction of different sub-environments within a depositional basin. You will learn how to use active depositional processes today to help us decipher the depositional products of the rock record and assess how they may be used to reconstruct the environmental changes that have affected other planetary bodies (e.g. Mars, Titan).

Content

The module will draw on the following themes:

 Source to sink: weathering and the sediment conveyor belt
 Summit to sea: terrestrial and marine sedimentary environments
 Principal agents of sediment transport: gravity, ice, wind, water
 Facies and facies analysis: interpreting past, present and future sedimentary environments
 Natural disruptors: earthquakes, volcanoes, storms etc.
 New sedimentary environments: plastics and the Anthropocene
 Is space the final frontier? Extra-terrestrial sedimentary environments.

Practical and fieldwork exercises will provide opportunities to apply the concepts and techniques introduced in lectures to the analysis of ‘real world’ sedimentary environments. This will include laboratory sessions with self-directed learning exercises and a 1 day local field excursion.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Students will be expected to read academic literature and to communicate their knowledge in laboratory and fieldwork reports and exam answers using appropriate written scientific language. Oral communication skills will be developed through peer-learning environments in the laboratory, field and lecture room.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will need to adapt to a more independent and self-directed learning style to complete the practical laboratory and field-based exercises. This component will also require sharing resources with other students on the course, fostering team-working skills which will benefit their adaptability and resilience in future groupworking and group-learning environments, as well as being valuable soft skills for their wider life and career beyond the university.
Information Technology Students will be expected to research and present written, numerical and graphical data and information using appropriate digital software. Further reading is an integral component of student-directed learning, requiring competence in finding and engaging with relevant sources online and via library-based digital search engines.
Personal Development and Career planning Sediment description and analysis is a fundamental skill for physical geographers, earth and environmental scientists, and is commonly used in many environmental consultancy professions. The ability to communicate using appropriate scientific language is also a generic skill applicable to academic and consultancy settings. Self-directed laboratory exercises will provide opportunities for reflection on how students can build their understanding and improve progress at an early stage in the module. Students will be encouraged to build knowledge through independent reading from reading lists, and self-directed research beyond the core reading.
Problem solving Students will be presented with problems relating to the nature and origin of sediments and sedimentary rocks during lecture-based, laboratory and fieldwork exercises. Students will be expected to explore potential solutions to these problems based on material introduced through lectures, laboratory/field classes and independent reading.
Research skills This module will develop observational and interpretive analytical skills in the examination of a diverse range of sedimentary environments, and at a diverse range of time scales (ancient, modern, and future systems). Critical thinking skills will be developed through engagement with competing hypotheses in the academic literature, in their peerlearning practical exercises, and in their independent analysis of sediments and sedimentary rocks in the field. Understanding uncertainty is a fundamental critical thinking tool in the geosciences, and students will build their knowledge of this core concept throughout the lectures, practicals and field activities.
Subject Specific Skills This module will provide students with the skills to apply specialised terminology, concepts and methods relevant to sedimentary environments of the past, present and future. Students will develop expertise in a range of research methods, including planning and conducting research, and producing academic reports. These skills will be practiced and developed through laboratory and fieldwork exercises. Students will be expected to use journal/web-based sources appropriately and effectively.
Team work Collaborative team-work and peer-learning in small groups will form and integral part of the laboratory and field exercises. Students will be expected to play an active part in group activities.

Notes

This module is at CQFW Level 6