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GEOL364 Igneous Petrology and Volcanology

Global context of magmatism and systematic description and quantitative interpretation of volcanic and plutonic rocks; phase equilibria and geochemical constraints on petrogenesis; physical processes of magma transport and eruption.

'Igneous Petrology and Volcanology' covers the systematic description and quantitative interpretation of volcanic and plutonic rocks within a plate tectonic framework. We emphasise examination of selected igneous suites in hand sample and thin section. You will learn to interpret phase equilibria, deposit characteristics, geochemical, textural, microtextural, and geochronologic features to interpret magma petrogenesis and controls on its emplacement at depth or eruption at the surface. Important mineral and geothermal resources are associated with igneous rocks, and the paper includes discussion of genetic relations between magmatic, geothermal, and ore-forming processes.

Paper title Igneous Petrology and Volcanology
Paper code GEOL364
Subject Geology
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period Second Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,038.45
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,492.80

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GEOL 251 and GEOL 252
GEOL 264
Schedule C
Teaching Arrangements
Two lectures and one 3-hour laboratory per week.
One-day field trip to examine volcanic rocks of East Otago.
Two-day field excursion to examine igneous rocks of the South Coast.
Background requirements: Knowledge of mineralogy, petrology (including use of the petrographic microscope), basic thermal and sedimentation processes, equivalent to high-school physics, basic understanding of chemistry, thermal and fluid dynamics, and computer spreadsheets (e.g. Microsoft Excel).

GEOL 264 is for students in their second year of a geology or equivalent degree. GEOL 364 is for students in their third year of a geology or equivalent degree.
Teaching staff
Coordinator: Dr Mike Palin
Dr Marco Brenna
Professor James White
Paper Structure
  • Upper mantle structure, composition and partial melting; origin and differentiation of magmas at oceanic spreading ridge, rift and intraplate settings; trace element and isotope constraints on magma sources
  • Magma's physical characteristics, crustal magma transport, lava emplacement, effusive and explosive eruptions
  • One-day field trip to examine volcanic rocks of East Otago
  • Origin and differentiation of magmas in subduction zone settings; crustal partial melting; magma-related hydrothermal systems
  • Two-day field excursion to examine igneous rocks of the South Coast
Assessment is approximately an even split between internal (ongoing during the semester) and external (final exam).

Assessments for GEOL 364 are set and graded differently to GEOL 264 to reflect greater background knowledge and higher expectations of students taking the paper at 300-level.
Highly recommended:
Robin Gill - Igneous Rocks and Processes, Wiley-Blackwell (2010).

For an advanced treatment see:
Philpotts and Ague (2009) Principles Of Igneous And Metamorphic Petrology 2nd Edition: ISBN-13: 9780521880060
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Environmental literacy, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
  • Familiarity with advanced igneous petrographic mineral and texture identification
  • Understanding of how rocks melt to form magma
  • Understanding of magma characteristics and their chemical and physical controls
  • Ability to determine the chemical evolution of a magma
  • Understanding of how magma leaves its sources, and controls on whether it reaches the surface or is emplaced at depth
  • Understanding of how magma is effused or explosively erupted, and insight into the processes of lava flows and explosive fragmentation
  • Ability to interpret the deposits and/or observations of a volcanic eruption

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Second Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Wednesday 09:00-09:50 28-34, 36-41
Wednesday 12:00-12:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
P1 Wednesday 14:00-16:50 28-34, 36-41
P2 Thursday 09:00-11:50 28-34, 36-41