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CEG2602 : Minerals and their Instabilities

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Professor David Manning
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


The aim of this course is to give students the opportunity to learn what is needed to describe rocks in terms of the materials from which they are made, and to understand the processes of their formation. As a single course it allows connections to be made between igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic processes, thus expressing a connection within the dynamic Earth system. The course will equip students for independent work, especially in the field description of rocks, and includes development of practical skills in observation (microscope work) and data interpretation that are important in the Earth Sciences at all levels. It also includes applications of the material learnt in everyday life.

Outline Of Syllabus

The course is based on the structure of well-established text books (e.g. Blatt, Tracy and Owens ‘Petrology’), which are aimed at students at this stage. In three parts, the first and largest component introduces the rock forming minerals and the igneous rocks in which these are formed, in the context of the geological setting. This provides an opportunity to introduce simple phase diagrams, as well as quantitative methods of rock analysis and their interpretation.

The second component addresses the weathering of igneous rocks and the formation of sedimentary rocks, giving students the opportunity to classify and describe these in the context of sedimentary basin processes.

The third component addresses metamorphic rocks, and looks at how these are formed from sedimentary rocks (and some igneous rocks) in response to changes in pressure and temperature. Students will have the opportunity to learn basic geobarometry and geothermometry as tools used to determine the conditions of formation of these rocks.

All of this is in the context of the overarching paradigm of Plate Tectonics.

In addition to characterising minerals and rocks in hand specimen, thin section work will support lectures for all three components, supplemented by paper exercises that involve handling data and plotting graphs that are widely used to interpret rock compositions.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture121:0012:00Non-synchronous online.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical61:006:00PIP.
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading19:009:00N/A
Guided Independent StudySkills practice110:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops51:307:30done via Zoom
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study135:3035:30N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures are required to provide a framework for the development of learning and acquisition of knowledge.
Practical sessions are divided between 6 addressing the use of microscopes, and 5 workshops that develop skills in interpreting mineralogical and chemical data and are vital for the acquisition of the skills that the module needs. A student will use the practical skills gained from this module throughout their entire career. The practical sessions involve opportunities for relationship building and articulation of a problem, through informal contact with teaching and demonstrating staff, as well as with peers.
The work is focused on substantial textbooks, and students will be directed to read selected peer reviewed journal papers to supplement work done in lectures and practicals.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1A100Coursework; structured individual worksheet
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Practical/lab report1MFormative assessment of microscope work, to enable students to assess skill acquisition essential for future use of the technique
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessments relate specifically to the learning outcomes – testing knowledge and the acquisition of the required skills. A pass/fail formative lab exercise with feedback is included to prepare students for the summative assessment of lab work.

Reading Lists