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GEOL1012 Surface Processes



To demonstrate the immensity of surface and near-surface processes and resulting changes on Earth through geological time. Students will learn: processes and problems at Earth’s surface and near-surface realms, details of surface processes and the resulting products, with an emphasis on spatial distribution and the interrelationship of the various processes shaping the surface. The course provides a systematic description of commonly-occurring sedimentary rocks.

Practical classes and two short fieldtrips will be used to demonstrate surface processes in action through time and to teach the identification and application of common sedimentary rocks and structures in the field, in hand specimen and graphic logs.


An understanding of:

  • surface and near-surface processes and products;
  • the systematic classification of sediments and the ability to identify common sedimentary rocks and structures in the field, in hand specimen and in graphic logs;
  • global change through time.


Topics studied in lectures and during fieldwork include:

  • Weathering, sediment transport, etc.
  • Classification of sediments (texture, composition, sedimentary structures);
  • Siliciclastics, evaporates;
  • Carbonates, phosphates, siliceous & organic-rich sediments;
  • The geology of running water and groundwater;
  • Oceans and coasts;
  • Earth’s atmosphere and climate;
  • The geology of deserts;
  • Glaciers and Ice ages;
  • Terrestrial environments;
  • Global Change in the Earth System.
Title Surface Processes    
UG Code GEOL1012
Coordinator Prof Juergen Thurow
Other Contributors

Dr Heather Cheshire

Dr Graham Shields

Term 2
Credit 0.5 CU
Written Exam 50% (unseen two hour multiple choice examination)
Coursework 15% Graphic log, hand specimen practicals; 20% Dorset fieldtrip notebook; 15% Norfolk fieldtrip notebook.
Pre-Requisites None
Maths & Stats Content and Requirement None
Total Number of Hours of Student Work 188 hours
Hours of Lectures/Seminars 20 hours
Hours of Practicals/Problem Classes As needed.
Hours of Tutorials 0
Days of Fieldwork 7 days of fieldwork
Other If students from outside Earth Sciences or Natural Sciences wish to take this course, they should contact either the Departmental Tutor (Dr Wendy Kirk  or the Course Organiser (Prof Juergen Thurow) BEFORE registering on Portico. We have to book the accommodation for the fieldtrips in Term 1, long before we know the actual number of participants, and this can be difficult to change if we have seriously underestimated the number. Students from other departments should also be aware that they or their department are liable for the student contribution towards the cost of this trip.

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UCL Earth Sciences · Gower Street London WC1E 6BT · +44 (0)20 7679 2363 · more