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Unit information: Environmental Field Analysis in 2015/16

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Unit name Environmental Field Analysis
Unit code EASCM0023
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Sherman
Open unit status Not open

Successful completion of years 1, 2 and 3 of the Environmental Geoscience degree programme curriculum



School/department School of Earth Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

The aim of this field and laboratory unit is to gain practical experience in field sampling, chemical analysis and geochemical modelling. Field sampling will be undertaken during a one week field trip to the Rio Tinto watershed in Andalucia, Spain. This site offers one of the world's most extreme examples of acid mine drainage. Water and sediment sampling will be done together with in situ analyses in the field. Samples will be further analyses in the laboratory at Bristol.

From the analytical data obtained, bio - geochemical processes controlling the composition of the Rio Tinto as it evolves from the mine drainage to the Huelva estuary will be identifies. Thermodynamic and kinetic modelling will be used to identify equilibrium on water chemistry.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the class you will be able to:

  • Plan and undertake a concerted field sampling campaign focused on natural waters and sediments.
  • Understand the pitfalls encountered in collecting and preparing samples for a range of chemical analyses.
  • Record field data relevant to future analysis of the geochemical data.
  • Understand and undertake a range of sample preparation methods and analytical approaches.
  • Work effectively in a team to meet a strict deadline in both field and laboratory conditions.
  • Interpret geochemical data using thermodynamic models.
  • Seek out, using literature and web resources, missing data that is required for the data synthesis.
  • Prepare a written report on the results in the style of a scientific paper.

Teaching Information

Practical laboratory work including 2 lectures in the labs, fieldwork and 3 on-site lectures. Lab and on-site lectures will last approximately one hour.

Assessment Information

The course will be assessed (100%) by a written report that describes the field problem, reviews the existing literature, outlines the methods used, presents the analytical data and provides an interpretation of the results. The report should be no more than 20 pages, excluding figures and tables. Part of the overall assessment (15%) will be based on the quality of both the written and graphical presentation.

Reading and References

Sanchez-Espana et al., (2005). Acid mine drainage in the Iberian Pyrite Belt (Odiel river watershed, Huelva, Spain): Geochemistry, mineralogy and environmental implications. Applied Geochemistry, 20-7, 1232-1358