Module Catalogue

CEG8632 : Sedimentary Organic Matter 1 (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2018/19
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Martin Jones
  • Lecturer: Dr Cees van der Land, Dr Geoffrey Abbott, Dr Angela Sherry
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


To provide the science basis of organic matter in sedimentary rocks and to understand the combination of factors that result in the formation of hydrocarbon source rocks and anoxia/euxinia in lacustine and marine environments. Geochemical techniques are introduced that allow reconstructing the origin, fate during transport and after burial, and hydrocarbon source rock potential of sedimentary organic matter.

Organic matter controls in modern and past marine settings; Productivity, carbon flux, and organic carbon burial; Early diagenetic processes; Ocean dysoxia-anoxia; Oxygen Minimum Zones and upwelling; relationship to sea level change and widespread volcanic activity; ancient sapropel and black shale; Oceanic Anoxic Events; Analytical toolbox including; geochemical bulk proxies (C/H/N, Rock Eval Pyrolyses), molecular tracers (photic zone euxinia), inorganic redox tracers (redox-sensitive trace elements, C-S-Fe relationships; novel isotopic approaches).

Outline Of Syllabus

Introductory Lectures:
Geological and sedimentary context;
Petroleum source rocks: characteristics observed in outcrops and drill cores;
Production and distribution of organic matter in the modern ocean;
Sedimentation rate, accumulation rate, oxygen exposure time;
Near-surface diagenesis of organic matter;
Anoxic settings: modern and past;
The ‘Productivity’ versus ‘Preservation’ debate.

Geochemical toolbox:
Bulk geochemical characterization of sedimentary organic matter (bulk C isotopes, Rock Eval, C/N);
Sedimentary tracers for ocean anoxia (I): Inorganic geochemistry (redox sensitive trace elements, Fe-C-S relationships);
Sedimentary tracers for ocean anoxia (II): organic geochemistry (bottom water and photic zone anoxia markers).

Petroleum source rocks and climate:
Oceanic Anoxic Events: general concept and stratigraphic occurrence;
Oceanic Anoxic Events: high resolution records from past greenhouse oceans.

Introductory field trip to the Jurassic N Yorkshire Coast (one day).

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture201:0020:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion11:301:30Exam
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion115:0015:00Scientific essay
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion201:0020:00Revision for exam
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork18:008:00Introductory field trip to the North Yorkshire coast
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity135:3035:30Includes background reading and reading of lecture notes for a full understanding of the material
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Knowledge and advanced understanding are delivered via lectures, independent literature review and writing of a scientific essay, and a one day field course. Observations and discussions during the field course will further aid the development of integrated (geological) understanding.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination901A60Unseen written exam.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M40Scientific essay (approx 1000 words)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The general and specialist knowledge and understanding are assessed by means of unseen written examination and a single scientific essay (coursework). The examination paper covers a broad range of subjects and approaches to accurately and balanced assess the student's abilities. These may include essay, data interpretation and multi-part questions.

Reading Lists