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Unit information: Environmental Geochemistry in 2016/17

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 Environmental Geochemistry
Unit code EASC20011
Credit points 10
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1A (weeks 1 - 6)
Unit director Professor. Sherman
Open unit status Not open

Successful completion of the first year of a degree programme curriculum in the School of Earth Sciences



School/department School of Earth Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

This unit aims to give students an understanding of the biogeochemical processes that couple the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere. We will also focus on the chemistry controlling the behaviour of pollutants in soil, groundwater and surface water. This unit will provide the chemical background for the contaminant transport course. Specific aims are to provide a baisc understanding of:

  • biogeochemical processes
  • carbon geochemistry and carbonate equilibria
  • weathering reactions
  • sorption and ion-exchange reactions that on the chemical compositions of natural waters
  • the chemistry of the oceans, rivers, lakes and groundwaters
  • the major organic and inorganic pollutants in soil and groundwater and the biogeochemical controls on their fate.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion you should be able to:

  • do simple chemical equilibrium calculations to predict concentrations of dissolved chemical components in aqueous solutions.
  • describe the geochemical controls on the compositions on natural waters
  • predict the fate of important environmental pollutants
  • give a qualitative account of the geochemical cycles of C and N.
  • explain the origin of acid mine drainage

Teaching Information

Lectures and practicals

Assessment Information

The course will be assessed from a 2-hour closed examination. This will cover both concepts presented in lectures and calculations learned in practicals.

Reading and References

Langmuir, D.L., Aqueous Environmental Geochemistry. Lecture notes for the course, additional reading, and interactive self-assessment quizzes are available on the course web site (