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GEOL3003 Geodynamics & Global Tectonics



The course seeks to present a global perspective of plate tectonics processes, including plate kinematics, the nature
of plate boundaries and the forces that drive those processes. The goals are to understand the geological manifestations
of tectonic processes at the surface and unify them with the processes in the interior that drive the tectonics.


Students will achieve a thorough understanding of plate boundaries, the unique geological and geophysical observations that characterize them. Along with such phenomenology the students will gain a clear picture of plate kinematics and the forces that drive such motions. Along with it, they will also gain an understanding of the energy balance in the Earth and how it relates to convective flow and plate tectonics, stress and strain and the relation to surface deformation and mantle dynamics.

Students will be able to rotate plates on a sphere, analyze heat flow, gravity, seismic and geological data to understand tectonics and dynamics of the Earth. They will learn to master the necessary software to plot global observations for different map projections and write simple programs to solve geophysical and geological problems.

The software and numerical skills (Unix, GMT, Matlab) and oral presentation skills are transferable to any area of academic and industrial work.


Topics will include:

  • Plate Tectonics Historical Perspective
  • Mid-Ocean Ridges
  • Subduction zones
  • Mountain Belts
  • Transform Regions
  • Plate Kinematics
  • Plate Dynamics
  • Stress and Strain
  • Flexure of the Lithosphere
  • Mechanism of Deformation at microscopic and macroscopic scales
  • Interior of the Earth
  • Gravity and Geoid
  • Heat Flow
  • Convective Flow (Fluid dynamics and mantle convection)
  • Earth's evolution
Title Geodynamics & Global Tectonics    
UG Code GEOL3003
Coordinator Dr Carolina Lithgow-Bertelloni, Prof Lars Stixrude
Other Contributors  
Term 1 & 2
Credit 1.0 CU
Written Exam 40% (unseen two and a half hour exam)
Coursework 40% (ten practicals/problem sheets)
Oral Presentation
Pre-Requisites GEOL1004 Dynamic Earth and GEOL2014 Global Geophysics
Maths & Stats Content and Requirement Basic algebraic manipulation of equations and simple trigonometry plus basic use of calculus (math tutorials can be arranged) and differential equations.
Total Number of Hours of Student Work 375 hours
Hours of Lectures/Seminars 2 hours per week lectures
Hours of Practicals/Problem Classes 2 hours per week practicals
Hours of Tutorials Optional maths tutorials
Days of Fieldwork 0
Other None

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