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GEOL376 Geological Resources and Sustainability

Explore the geological origins, and environmental and ethical issues, associated with mineral and energy resources essential for the global transition to a sustainable low-carbon society.

“Geological Resources for a sustainable New Zealand” provides a foundation for the description and interpretation of rocks associated with a broad range of ore deposits and non-metallic geological resources (e.g. geothermal, oil and gas). Through the study of chemical and physical characteristics of key deposits types you will learn to reconstruct the processes that lead to mineralization and resource formation. Practical work will train you in cutting-edge techniques used in the exploration for geological resources. All topics covered will expose you to real-world situations, including remediation and the social responsibility which are an integral part of the resource exploitation process, to ensure their sustainability for society.

Paper title Geological Resources and Sustainability
Paper code GEOL376
Subject Geology
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,141.35
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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EAOS 111 and/or GEOL 112 and/or ENVI 111, and 72 200-level points from Science Schedule C
GEOL 276
Schedule C

Background requirements: Knowledge of mineralogy, petrology (including use of the petrographic microscope), tectonics, equivalent to high-school physics, basic understanding of chemistry, thermal and fluid dynamics, and computer literacy.

GEOL276 is for students in their second year of a geology or equivalent degree. GEOL376 is for students in their third year of a geology or equivalent degree.


Teaching staff

Coordinator: Dr Marco Brenna
Dr Doug McKenzie
Dr Christian Ohneiser
Dr Candace Martin
Dr Stephen Read

Paper Structure

Topics covered:

  • Igneous-related mineralization, magmatic processes leading to ore formation, sulphide saturation in mafic bodies, metallic enrichment through magmatic differentiation, effect of heat and fluid movement.
  • Gold mineralization, metamorphic reactions leading to dewatering and fluid generation, structural traps and ore deposition
  • Exploration to remediation, geophysical techniques, GIS, engineering geology, hydrocarbons, social responsibility
  • Two fieldtrips to localities in Otago

Assessment is approximately an even split between internal (ongoing during the semester) and external (final exam). Assessments for GEOL376 are set and graded differently to GEOL276 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: 2 x 1-day fieldtrips.


Recommended texts: Robb L. 2014. Introduction to ore-forming processes. Blackwell Publishing; or Ridley J. 2013. Ore deposit geology. Cambridge University Press.

For a broader approach: Kesler S.E. and Simon A.C. 2015. Mineral resources, economics and the environment (2nd ed). Cambridge University Press.

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

Students will gain:

  • Knowledge of the mechanisms that lead to the formation of metallic ore deposits, hydrocarbon deposits and geothermal energy, and be able to recognize prospective areas for their exploration.
  • A broad set of skills required in the process of mineral, oil and gas and geothermal exploration, such as the ability to describe and identify rock and mineral specimens, interpret geophysical and geochemical data.
  • Understanding of the impact of natural resource exploitation on the environment and the importance of both for society.

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 08:00-08:50 9-14, 16, 18-22
Tuesday 12:00-12:50 9-14, 16, 18-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 14:00-16:50 9-13, 16, 18-22