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GEOL0025 Earth Resources & Sustainability

This course explores the nature and critical issues of major types of Earth resources - energy, metallic, non-metallic, water, soil - and the impacts that resource usage has on the Earth environment.

Coordinator: Prof Eric Oelkers

Module details
TitleEarth Resources & Sustainability 
UG CodeGEOL0025
CoordinatorProf Eric Oelkers
Other ContributorsDr Adrian Jones
Term2
Credit15 credits
Written Exam60% (unseen two and a half hour exam)
Coursework30% (3,000 word essay & practical assignments)
Oral Presentation10% (10 minutes)
Pre-RequisitesSome first and/or second year Geology modules (e.g. GEOL0006, GEOL0007, GEOL0011)
Maths & Stats Content and RequirementGeneral GCSE-level (or equivalent) knowledge of maths
Total Number of Hours of Student Work188 hours
Hours of Lectures/Seminars20 hours
Hours of Practicals/Problem Classes20 hours
Hours of TutorialsAs needed
Days of FieldworkNone
OtherNone
Content

An important aspect of the course is that it will be jointly delivered both by academic and by industry personnel, and students will be introduced to the societal and financial drivers for resource identification.

Lecture topics

  • Energy density requirements for Earth
  • Environmental impacts and the era of coal energy
  • The era of methane energy
  • Nuclear energy from resources to sequestration
  • Alternative energy sources
  • Climate change and atmospheric pollution

Practical laboratory topics

  • Targetting Earth resources using remote geological techniques
  • Measuring environmental impacts with geochemistry
  • Prospecting with geophysical techniques
  • Petroleum and shale gas research
  • Identifying ore rocks and minerals 
  • Geological pathfinders
  • Bioremediation of waste

Coursework packages (essential directed reading topics: select 1)

  • Nuclear energy
  • Acid rain
  • The deep carbon cycle
  • Energy challenges
  • Abundant metals
  • Strategic metals
  • High density fuels and future ZEPPS (zero energy emission power plants)

Bibliography

Resources of the Earth: Origin, Use, and Environmental Impact by Craig, Vaughan and Skinner, 4th Ed Prentice Hall, 2010.

AIMS

This course explores the nature and critical issues of major types of Earth resources - energy, metallic, non-metallic, water, soil - and the impacts that resource usage has on the Earth environment. The concept of sustainability for Earth materials will be approached through discussion of thematic position topics, to encourage students to reach their own conclusions. Students will learn timescales and how geological processes control formation and distribution of resource materials, and the scope for environmental and climatic change at the Earth's surface. Key is the identification and characterisation of materials and the tools for exploration and planning for the consequences of exploitation as practised by the resource industries.

OUTCOMES

The intended learning outcomes is to demonstrate that Earth materials, which provide the foundations of modern society, are finite in abundance and non-equally distributed yet can be appreciated and profoundly informed from a geological perspective.