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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

SOEE2980 Global Tectonics

20 credits

Module manager: Tim Wright

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

Pre-requisite qualifications

L1 core modules from the new Geology programme.

Module replaces

Partial replacement of former SOEE2050 Deformation Mechanisms, SOEE2631 Introduction to geophysics

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module explores the origin and characteristics of deformation on Earth and their link to the main geotectonic environments. The student will gain an understanding of the range of geophysical characteristics of these different environments and physical processes and the techniques by which these are quantified and interpreted in the context of global tectonics. The students will integrate details of the deformation behaviour and its associated structure with the occurrence and nature of progressive deformation, metamorphism and resultant geophysical signatures. Students will learn how to record, describe, quantify and interpret deformation structures from small to large scale and to synthesize data in order to develop the geological history of an area.


By the end of this module, students will:
• Have an understanding of the ways in which Earth materials deform from small to large scale building upon level 1 knowledge.
• Be able to link scales of structure and material properties from the field, outcrops, hand-specimen and thin-section by integrating analytical techniques with practical examples
• Be able apply the knowledge of deformation processes and their rheological consequences to understand geological histories.
• Have an understanding of the physical principles underlying Earth processes, geophysical methods and Earth Observation using satellites, and how these methods are applied to study the whole Earth, the lithosphere, and plate tectonics.
• Be able to determine rock histories and the sequence of processes to which rocks have been subjected from hand specimen and thin section analysis
• Be able to solve problems related to the geophysical investigation of the Earth
• Have an understanding of the links between geophysical properties and deformation behaviour at a range of length and time scales.
• Be able to conduct field-based project work in an efficient and safe manner

Learning outcomes
Upon successful completion of the module, students should be able to:
1. Explain the principles underlying physical processes that influence dynamics of the whole Earth, the lithosphere, and plate tectonics.
2. Explain how geophysical methods and Earth Observation can be used to investigate geological properties and processes and solve problems in Earth Science.
3. Explain the ways in which Earth materials can deform.
4. Link scales of structure from the regional to local, outcrop, hand-specimen and thin-section by integrating analytical techniques with practical examples.
5. Prepare for field-based project work through laboratory and field exercises.
6. Work as part of a group to gather and pool observations across a suite of field observations to understand geotectonic evolution of an area and its links to geophysical properties.

Skills outcomes
Field work skills
Project planning and execution
3D spatial thinking through time
Resilience to adverse condition
Geophysical Analysis
Earth Observation
Thinsection Description and Analysis
Ability to interrogate and synthesise complex datasets


Lectures will focus on the following concepts reinforced and explored via weekly practical classes:
- The mechanics of deformation and the formation and description of geological structures and their relationship to stress and strain
- Quantitative methods to derive past stress and strain
- Principle and methods of identification and quantification of incremental strain, kinematics and polyphase and progressive deformation at a variety of metamorphic grades
- Principles of fault and shear zone evolution including the study of microstructures
- Characteristics of fault-fold networks at various scales and in different geotectonic environments (thrust, normal and strike slip regimes)
- Principles of Heat flow (conductive and advective) in the Earth including its time dependence and effect on deformation behaviour
- Principles of the measurement of the gravity field and its use in characterising isostasy and tectonic settings
- Principles of seismic imaging of the crust and mantle, seismic observations of faulting, and relationship between rock deformation and seismic properties
- Understanding of the origin of magnetic fields, reversals, palaeomagetism and their use in interpretation of plate motions and geological history
- Principles of satellite Earth Observation techniques including Geodesy (GPS and InSAR) and applications to temporal and spatial distributions of deformation and rock properties
- Interpretation of geological history by the integration of several geological and geophysical datasets derived from the field, maps and/or cross-section

Field class (2.5 days):
- Collection, description and interpretation of field data and , geomorphological and geophysical features.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Case Study22.004.00
Class tests, exams and assessment12.002.00
Group learning22.001.00
Independent online learning hours13.00
Private study hours100.00
Total Contact hours87.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Private study will be
- field analysis
- preparation for group assessment
- 2 * 1 hr evening private study during field class,
- independent reading of recommended text books,
- independent revision of lectures and practical notes,
- completing any unfinished work from practical classes.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

In practicals, staff and demonstrators provide continuous formative feedback, with occasional exercises run as small class tests under exam conditions with feedback provided afterwards. Model answers and solutions provided for some practical work.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Group ProjectSynoptic group assignment30.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)30.00

Alternative format assessment for fieldwork available (virtual fieldtrip)

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc) (S1)2 hr 70.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)70.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 09/07/2021 16:40:29


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