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GEOL353 Tectonics

Notice: MATH160 prerequisite

In 2015 the Department of Geology introduced new regulations for Geology undergraduate degrees.

Students who began their geology degree in 2014 or earlier can choose to finish their degree under the old regulations or the new regulations. Under the old regulations students do not have to take MATH160 for their degree OR as a prerequisite for GEOL353.

From 2016, those enrolling for GEOL353 Tectonics who have not taken MATH160 will be told that they do no have the prerequisite papers required for the paper in eVision. We will waive this requirement for those who are completing their degrees using the old regulations.

Purpose

Students should leave this paper with a professional knowledge of tectonic systems that can be applied to a range of geological problems, and an integrated understanding of the relationships between all the aspects of geology they have learned within the core in preceding years. Specific learning outcomes are:

  • Integrated and quantitative understanding of tectonic systems and tectonic processes
  • Problem solving skills
  • Quantitative skills
  • Team work skills

 Examining the spectacular outcrop of the Alpine Fault at Gaunt Creek
Examining the spectacular outcrop of the Alpine Fault at Gaunt Creek

Content

Students will learn methods to derive geometry and kinematics of plate motions and reconstruct past tectonic histories, and will gain an integrated understanding of tectonics, sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic environments, and structural associations in major tectonic settings worldwide. Implications for climate, fauna, earth evolution, and society will be discussed. An indicative set of lecture titles is:

Introduction (Lectures 1,2)

  • Evolution of Plate Tectonic theory / the Plate Tectonics Revolution
    What drives plate tectonics?
    • Heat sources in the Earth and heat dissipation
    • Plate driving forces
  • Principals of plate motions
    • Magnetic anomaly and fracture zone analysis
    • Earthquake focal mechanism analysis
    • GPS and current plate motions

Tectonic associations (Lectures 3-20)

For each setting, in a group of 2-4 lectures we would discuss the larger-scale tectonics; the sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic environments; and the structural associations.

  • Extensional settings
    • Continental rifts (Africa; Baikal; Rhine Graben)
    • Oceanic spreading centres (Mid-Atlantic; EPR; slow-spreading ridges)
    • Back-arc spreading (TVZ; Fiji; Mediterranean – Cyclades)
  • Subduction zones
    • Oceanic plate beneath oceanic plate (Marianas, Tonga-Kermadec)
    • Oceanic plate beneath continental plate (Andes, Hikurangi)
    • Continental subduction (Himalayas?)
  • Continental collisional zones
    • Fold and thrust belts. Thick-skinned vs thin-skinned tectonics (Appalacians etc…)
    • Terrane collision / accretion (NW USA, Karakorum)
    • Sutures (Himalayas, NZ, NW USA)
    • Crustal extrusion / extensional collapse (Himalayas, NZ)
    • Long-lived collisional zones and complexity of the intervening plates (Mediterranean)
  • Strike-slip boundaries
    • Continental (San Andreas system)
    • Oceanic (oceanic transforms)
    • Transpressional and transtensional boundaries (AFZ; Marlborough; Baja California)
  • Continental cratons

Implications of Plate Tectonics (Lectures 21-24)

  • Faunal distribution and evolution
  • Global climate and ocean circulation
  • Local climate and its interaction with tectonic processes
  • Geologic hazards
  • Mineralisation – tectonic cycles and settings for mineralisation; preservation of remnants of these tectonic events; unravelling the tectonic history

Teaching staff

Dr Virginia Toy, Prof Dave Prior

Format

First Semester; 24 lecture/tutorials (Wed 8/12) and 12 laboratories (Wed-pm).

Fieldwork

Assessment

  • 40% internal assessment
    • 2 x 10% Group posters
    • Field trip to West Coast test 20%
  • 60% - Final Exam.

Textbooks

Kearey, P., Klepeis, K.A. and Vine, F.J. 2009. Global Tectonics, 3rd edn. Wiley-Backwell, 482pp.
U of Otago Library call no. QE511.4.K76 2009

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Details

Plate geometry and kinematic derivations; tectonic history reconstructions; integrated understanding of sedimentary, igneous, metamorphic, and structural associations in various tectonic settings; implications for climate, fauna, earth evolution, and society.

Students should leave this paper with a professional knowledge of tectonic systems that can be applied to a range of geological problems and an integrated understanding of the relationships between all the aspects of geology that they have learned within the core in preceding years.

Paper title Tectonics
Paper code GEOL353
Subject Geology
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period First Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,018.05
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,320.00

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Prerequisite
GEOL 251 and GEOL 252 and MATH 160
Schedule C
Science
Notes
Students must be prepared to attend field trips outside of regular semester time
Contact
geology@otago.ac.nz
Teaching staff
Co-ordinator: Dr Virginia Toy
Professor David Prior
Professor Dave Craw
Professor Ewan Fordyce
Dr Mike Palin
Professor James White
Dr Chris Moy
Paper Structure
  • Part 1: The mechanics of plate tectonics: what is our current understanding of the structure and motion of tectonic plates, and what datasets is this based on?

  • Part 2: Global implications of plate tectonics

  • Part 3: Processes in orogenic belts by reference to NZ's South Island
Textbooks
Kearey, P., Klepeis, K.A., & Vine, F.J. 2009. Global tectonics. Wiley Blackwell. Third edition 2011. 482 pages
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Environmental literacy, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Specific learning outcomes are:
  • Integrated and quantitative understanding of tectonic systems and tectonic processes
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Quantitative skills
  • Teamwork skills

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Timetable

First Semester

Location
Dunedin
Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system
None

Lecture

Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend
L1 Wednesday 08:00-08:50 9-15, 17-22
Wednesday 12:00-12:50 9-15, 17-22

Practical

Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend
P1 Thursday 15:00-17:50 9-15, 17-22