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Unit information: Mineralogy and Petrology in 2015/16

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Unit name Mineralogy and Petrology
Unit code EASC20035
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Schumacher
Open unit status Not open

Successful completion of year 1 of the Geology degree programme curriculum



School/department School of Earth Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

This unit studies minerals and then uses this knowledge to investigate the formation of igneous and metamorphic rocks. We will explore the structure, composition and stability of rock-forming minerals. The unit is also concerned with optical properties of minerals, which are used as a means of characterising and identifying minerals with the petrographic microscope.

In the latter parts of the course, after mineral identification becomes routine, textural settings of the minerals are used to infer geological events from sequential mineral growth or crystallisation, deformation or reaction textures in igneous or metamorphic rock types.

The metamorphic section applies chemical equilibrium, the phase rule to the evaluation of metamorphic rocks. The igneous section of the unit focuses on processes that produce the wide range rock types and textures emphasising the role of simple chemical equilibria and kinetics.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of the unit you should be able to:

  • describe the structures, compositions and parageneses of the rock-forming minerals
  • identify the major rock-forming minerals using the petrographic microscope
  • list and explain the factors influencing the structures and stabilities of minerals and predict the site occupancies of cations in minerals
  • perform elementary chemical calculations
  • comprehend, construct and use binary and ternary compositional phase diagrams to interpret igneous and metamorphic rocks.
  • recognise common igneous and metamorphic rocks from their mineralogy and textures.
  • use textures to interpret the petrogenesis of different igneous and metamorphic rocks
  • describe the effects of metamorphism on the most commonly encountered crustal protoliths (chiefly mafic and ultramafic igneous rocks and shale)
  • compare and critically evaluate the different means of metamorphic rock classification including the zonal and facies approaches.
  • discuss how the kinetics of melt separation, mineral nucleation and growth influences the composition and form of igneous and metamorphic rocks
  • model igneous differentiation using simple, multi-component systems

Teaching Information

Lectures and practicals

Assessment Information

The unit mark will be determined by a closed examination (95%), which will include a strong practical component to test optical microscopy skills, together with the marks from two 15min tests in Practicals 3 and 5 (5% in total for these coursework components).

Assessment will be completed in accordance with the University Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes, available online at

Reading and References

Deer, Howie and Zussman, An introduction to the Rock Forming Minerals, 2nd Edition, 1992. Pearson Education. ISBN 978-0-582-30094-1

Philpotts and Ague, Principles of Igenous and Metamorphic Petrology, Cambridge University Press, 2nd Edition, 2009. ISBN 978-0-521-88006-0