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GEOL264 Igneous Petrology and Volcanology

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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 GEOL264
Subject Geology
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,110.75
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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GEOL 251
GEOL 364
Schedule C

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).

GEOL264 is for students in their second year of a geology or equivalent degree.

GEOL364 is for students in their third year of a geology or equivalent degree.

Teaching staff

Coordinator: Prof James White
Dr Marco Brenna
Dr Michael Palin

Paper Structure

Topics covered:

  • 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.

Teaching Arrangements

Two lectures and one 3-hour laboratory per week.

Fieldwork: One-day field trip to examine volcanic rocks of East Otago. Two-day field excursion to examine igneous rocks of the South Coast.

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
Course outline (latest syllabus indicative of content next time the paper is taught)

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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Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Wednesday 09:00-09:50 28-34, 36-41
Wednesday 13:00-13:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Wednesday 14:00-16:50 28-34, 36-41