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Unit information: Mineralogy and Petrology in 2021/22

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. Parkinson
Open unit status Not open

Successful completion of the mandatory year 1 units of a Geology or Geophysics programme at Bristol.



School/department School of Earth Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

In this unit an understanding of the systematics of mineral structures and compositions will be used as the foundation to investigate the formation of igneous and metamorphic rocks. For each mineral group the fundamental aspects of the structure and composition of a simple end-member will be studied in detail, and the rest of each group will be understood in terms of compositional and structural modifications, particularly focussing on the concept of solid solutions. The physical and optical properties will be discussed within that framework, and a series of practical sessions will be used to exploit the optical properties as a tool for mineral identification using the polarising microscope.

Once mineral identification becomes routine, the unit will explore the origins of igneous and metamorphic rocks. The igneous section of the unit focuses on partial melting and crystallisation processes that produce the wide range of igneous rocks types. Major and trace element variations and phases diagrams will be used to quantitatively understand the evolution of igneous rocks. The practicals will demonstrate how mineralogical and textural evidence can be utilised to evaluate magmatic processes and the role that simple chemical equilibria and kinetics play in determining the textures.

The metamorphic section applies chemical equilibrium, and the phase rule to the evaluation of metamorphic rocks. The practicals will emphasise the use of textures to infer geological events from sequential mineral growth, deformation and reaction textures and how phase diagrams can be used to calculate stable mineral assemblages.

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

The unit will be taught through a combination of

  • asynchronous online materials and, if subsequently possible, synchronous face-to-face lectures
  • synchronous office hours
  • asynchronous directed individual formative activities and exercises
  • guided, structured reading
  • practical work in the laboratory

Students who either begin or continuetheir studies in an online mode may be required to complete practical work, or alternative activities in person, either during the academic year 2020/21 or subsequently, in order to meet the intended learning outcomes for the unit, prepare them for subsequent units or to satisfy accreditation requirements.

Assessment Information

The unit mark will be determined by an examination (100%), which will include a strong practical component to test optical microscopy skills.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. EASC20035).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.