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GEOL2004 Chemistry of Earth Environments



To outline chemical aspects of the Earth's formation and development to its present state. To examine and understand some of the chemical processes active in the Earth's surficial environment, such as element cycling and diagenesis, and how chemical records of past events and climates can be understood.


Knowledge and Understanding:

  • Module is to provide earth science students with a broad understanding of chemical aspects of Earth’s history.

Practical and Transferable Outcomes:

  • effective manipulation of data;
  • skills in written interpretation, comprehension of scientific data, simple arithmetical manipulation, independent study, IT skills.


This course introduces students to chemistry pertinent to the Earth's evolution, and to today's surface environments. For example, the carbon-isotope record of life's evolution; radiometric dating, which allow a timescale to be placed on geologic events; and the study of ocean composition. Topics covered will include:

  • formation of the elements;
  • aggregation and chemical differentiation of the Earth;
  • evolution of the Earth's atmosphere and hydrosphere;
  • geochemistry of the modern ocean;
  • geochemistry of sediments;
  • stable-isotope geochemistry;
Title Chemistry of Earth Environments
UG Code GEOL2004
Coordinator Prof. J.M. McArthur
Other Contributors  
Term 1
Credit 0.5 CU
Theory Exam 50% (2.5 hrs unseen)
Practical Exam  50% (2.5 hrs unseen)
Pre-Requisites Either A-level Chemistry or equivalent e.g. GEOL1014 Geochemistry, is strongly advised, but not obligatory
Maths & Stats Content and Requirement You will be expected to have the ability to manipulate and use such basic algebraic equations as y = a + bx + cx2, and to deal with simple statistics, such as the use of weighted means to calculate end-member component proportions. A knowledge of log-linear and log-log graphs and their use, and of exponential notation (10-6), is also assumed.
Total Number of Hours of Student Work 188 hours
Hours of Lectures/Seminars 20 hours
Hours of Practicals/Problem Classes 30 (paper exercises)
Hours of Tutorials As requested by students
Days of Fieldwork 0
Other 100 hrs of independent study

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