At the end of the course, the students will be able to apply their knowledge and skills to understanding so as to:
identify, by examination of hand samples and thin sections, the three principal groups of rocks (igneous, metamorphic, sedimentary) outcropping on the Earth’s surface;
explain why a variety of igneous and metamorphic rocks built the Earth’s crust and upper mantle and how these rocks form.
In addition, the students will demonstrate their communication and learning skills critically explaining the geologic history of igneous and metamorphic rocks and their origin within the different Earth’s plate tectonic settings.
Course contents summary
The course provides the fundamental concepts concerning how igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks form and address processes that govern the rocks formation within the context of plate tectonics. This is the sequence of course topics:
The Earth: formation; internal structure; cooling and “Plate Tectonics”; how the igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks form; the “Rock cycle”.
Igneous rocks: the causes of partial melting of the Earth’s mantle and crust; the “Phase Diagrams”; the physical properties of magma; processes associated with magma ascent and solidification in the Earth’s crust; mode of occurrence; classification; igneous rocks and their Plate Tectonic setting.
Sedimentary rocks (an introduction): how the different types of sediments form; classification; sedimentary rocks and their Plate Tectonic setting.
Metamorphic rocks: solid-state reactions; metamorphic reactions; textures; classification: metamorphic grade and Facies; the Barrow’s metamorphic Zones; graphical representation of metamorphic reactions; Plate Tectonic setting of the metamorphic Facies.
Klein C., Philpotts A. (2017), EARTH MATERIALS: introduction to mineralogy and petrology, 2nd edition. Cambridge University Press
Klein C., Philpotts A. (2018), Mineralogia e petrografia (edizione italiana). Zanichelli
The 12 credits of this course amount to a total of 120 hours, distributed as follows: 80 hours of laboratory-based exercises and 40 hours of lectures. In the hours of lectures, the teacher uses PowerPoint files that display the sequence of course topics. Formative evaluation will be done informally with discussions during each lesson, in order to check how much students have been understood.
Assessment methods and criteria
The exam is made of a written part and an oral part. The student is admitted to the oral after he has passed the written part.
The oral part of the exam is made of:
a review of the written part, in which the student is informed about the correction criteria and supply clarifications that may modify the judgment; then the student answers to review questions covering the course topics, in order to evaluate the level of the learning outcomes.