Learning outcomes of the course unit
The aim of the course is to provide the students with the fundamental knowledge of the modern geology, starting from the formation of the planet and arriving to the plate tectonic theory. The first part of the course provides the students with the basic knowledge of the “fundamental system” of the Earth, through the study of the genetic process of the various rocks found on surface. The second half of the course deals primarily with the general processes that are acting on the Earth surface, such as water runoff, ice and glaciers, wind etc. The general purpose is to supply the students of Civil and Environmental Engineering with the basic geological knowledge that will allow them to understand the interaction between human actions and natural environment for both, environmental preservation and natural risk reduction.
Course contents summary
Formation of the planet Earth, the Earth as an evolving planet, Plate Tectonic theory, the geological time.
Continental drift: the unifying theory, the plate puzzle; movement velocity of the plates; Geometry of the plates mechanics; lithological associations and plate tectonics; Microplates terrains and tectonics.
The minerals: “bricks of the rocks”
What are the minerals? Atomic structure of the materials; Chemical reactions; Gain and loss of electrons; Sharing of electrons; The periodic table of elements; Chemical binds; Atomic structure of minerals; the minerals forming rocks; physical properties of minerals; chemical properties of minerals. The rocks: witnesses of geological processes. Igneus rocks; Sedimentary rocks; Metamorphic rocks, Chemical structure of the rocks. The lithogenetic cycle.
Main type of igneus rocks; origins of magma; the magmatic differentiation; The Bowen reaction series; Types of magmatic intrusions. Endogenous processes: Volcanism,
Volcanic deposits; Types of eruptions; the global distribution of volcanos; the volcano and the human society.
Exogenous processes: Degradation and erosion,
Geological and Geographical factors of weathering; Chemical alteration; Physical disgregation; the soil; weathering as a sediment source. Sediments and sedimentary rocks. The raw material of the sediments: particles and solutions; sediment transportation and deposition; Diagenesis and lithification; Classification of the sediments and of sedimentary rocks; Stratification and sedimentary structures; clastic sediments and clastic rocks; Chemical and biochemical sediments and rocks.Metamorphic rocks
Physical and chemical factors of metamorphism, types of metamorphism, metamorphic structures, regional metamorphism and metamorphic degree; Contact metamorphism, plate tectonic and metamorphism. Folds, faults and deformations in rocks.
The mass movements. Classification of mass movements; catastrophic mass movements. The hydrogeological cycle and ground water. Hydrology and climate; Surface flow and ground water flow. The rivers: transportation toward the sea. How the rivers are flowing? The solid load of the rivers and the movements of particles; erosion of the rocks by water flows; River valleys, riverbeds and alluvial planes; the modification of the rivers with time and distance; River basins and flow nets; deltas. The earthquakes. What’s an earthquake? The study of earthquakes; the big picture: earthquakes and plate tectonics; destruction power of earthquakes.
The glacier and the action of the ice.
The nature of the ice; what’s a glacier? The glacial modeling; the permafrost, variation of glacial extensions: the pleistocene glaciations. The oceans.
The boundaries of the sea; coastal dynamics; exploring the ocean bottom; continental limits; continental plate; scarp and continental raise; differences between oceanic and terrestrial geology. The wind and the deserts. The wind as an air flow; the wind as a transport media, wind erosion; the wind as deposition agent; the desertic landscape and geology. The evolution of the terrestrial relief. Topography, heights and height differences; the relief shapes: physical landscape components; factors controlling the landscape modeling; Continental crust deformation. Regional tectonic structures; Stable internal regions; Orogenic belts; the Alps; vertical movements at the regional scale; geology of Italy.
Press F., Siever R. – Capire la terra – Ed. Italiana a cura di Lupia Palmieri E., Parlotto M. – Zanichelli Edizioni
Assessment methods and criteria