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Unit information: Mineralogy and Petrology of the Deep Earth in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Mineralogy and Petrology of the Deep Earth
Unit code EASCM0047
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1A (weeks 1 - 6)
Unit director Professor. Kohn
Open unit status Not open

Successful completion of years 1, 2 and 3 of a Geology degree programme at Bristol, or equivalent from another University - MSc students should contact the unit director.



School/department School of Earth Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

This unit builds on knowledge and skills learned in Mineralogy and Petrology units in year 2 and 3 of the Geology programmes. The following topics will be explored: deducing the mineralogy of the mantle using seismic and geochemical observations and high pressure experimentation; melting in the Earth from top to bottom; spectroscopic methods in mineralogy; the role of defects on physical and chemical processes in the Earth and applications of diffusion and kinetics in petrology.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  • describe the mineralogy and petrology of the mantle, and explain the role of phase transitions, thermal expansion and compressibility
  • calculate the composition of minerals and melts in an evolving magmatic system
  • describe the different types of defects which can exist in minerals, and their influence on transport properties
  • explain the nature of diffusion processes and the kinetics of mineral transformations, and apply kinetic data to obtain quantitative timescale information in rocks
  • understand the relationship between silicate melts and glasses, and the role of silicate melts in the Earth
  • choose the most appropriate spectroscopic technique for investigating mineralogical problems in the deep Earth

Teaching Information

Lectures, practicals and an independent assignment

Assessment Information

The unit will be assessed by 2 hour closed examination in the January exam period, which will include questions based on the entire course (80%), and an independent assignment (20%).

There will be a formative assessment test in week 1 based on knowledge acquired in the 2nd year Mineralogy course (or equivalent). The scope of that test will be explained to the students 2 weeks before the test to allow the appropriate revision to be done. The aim of the test is to provide an incentive to revise basic knowledge and to have the appropriate foundations to build upon during the unit.

The practicals will not be marked (although individual feedback will be given).

Assessment will be based on the criteria at:

Reading and References

  • Frost, The Upper Mantle and Transition Zone, ELEMENTS, 4:171-176 June 2008
  • Fiquet, Guyot, and Badro, The Earth's Lower Mantle and Core, ELEMENTS, 4:177-182 June 2008
  • Hirose and Lay Discovery of Post-Perovskite and New Views on the Core-Mantle Boundary Region, ELEMENTS, 4:183-189 June 2008
  • Navrotsky, 1994. Physics and Chemistry of Earth Materials. Cambridge University Press
  • Trønnes 2010 Structure, mineralogy and dynamics of the lowermost mantle. Miner Petrol 99:243–261