GEOLOGY 3013 - Tectonics III

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2017

This course will develop knowledge of the Earth as a four-dimensional dynamic system. The megascopic structure of the earth -oceanic and continental crust and lithosphere, and the asthenosphere, will be introduced and compared. The basic dynamic potentials acting on the Earth (heat, gravity) will be examined, and their diverse first order effects explored (isostasy, convection, exhumation, pluming). The concepts of rifting and ocean formation will be examined, as will those of subduction and mantle plumes. Processes of orogenesis will be examined in depth. Recent and Mesozoic evidence (structural, geochemical, geophysical, sedimentological) for the operation of these processes will be examined. We will examine evidence and constraints on interpretation of these processes operating in past geological eras: the Palaeozoic, Proterozoic and Archaean. Emphasis will be placed upon understanding examples from the tectonic evolution of the Australian Plate. Details of field trip will be communicated at start of the course.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code GEOLOGY 3013
    Course Tectonics III
    Coordinating Unit School of Physical Sciences
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 5 hours per week, plus field trip
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Assumed Knowledge GEOLOGY 2500, GEOLOGY 2501 & GEOLOGY 2502
    Assessment Exam, practical assignments, seminar, field trip reports
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Stijn Glorie

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    A succesful student should be able to:
    1 Demonstrate proficiency in common practical skills in tectonics and structural geology;
    2 Understand the tectonic processes that operate at plate boundaries and their effects on the plate interior;
    3 Understand the main forces that impact the Earth's surface and subsurface, what drives them and how the Earth responds;
    4 Describe models for the lithosphere and asthenosphere including their phycial properties;
    5 Combine appropriate structural, metamorphic, geophysical, geochemical evidence to interrogate tectonics operating in the past;
    6 Work in a team to produce a presentation about a current tectonics research topic.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    The following items are required resources for all practical exercises: paper, ruler, protractor, pencils (including colour pencils) and calculator. Some practicals will require the use of a (laptop) computer, basic software such as MS Excel and/or software (freeware) that will be given to you during or before the practicals. Bringing a laptop to the classroom for these practicals is strongly recommended, however the exercises can be completed at home as well and/or in team. Required reading will be issued from journal articles that will be available through the Library and/or MyUni. There is no recommended textbook for this course, although course materials are generally sourced from the textbooks listed below (pdf chapters will be made available if required). Course notes (recordings) and digital copies of all slideshows used in lectures and practicals will be readily available on MyUni.

    This course will include a field component. The following Field Kit is compulsory for this component and items can be purchased at Unibooks:
    - good quality (hardback) notebook
    - compass/clinometer
    - hand lens

    Recommended Resources
    Recommended Resource:

    - Kearey P., Klepeis, K.A., and Vine, F.J. 2009. Global Tectonics. 3rd edition, Wiley-€Blackwell (most recommended and available at Unibooks);

    Other Resources that you may want to refer to:

    - Plate Tectonics, Continental Drift and Mountain Building - Wolfgang Frisch, Martin Meschede and Ronald C Blakely Springer 2011 (availabel free as an e-book through the library);

    - Stuwe, K. 2007. Geodynamics of the Lithosphere, an Introduction. 2nd edition. Springer. (hideously expensive, but unbelievably the library has electronic access to it – you can download pdfs of all the chapters);

    - McClay, K., 1997. Mapping of Geological Structures, Open University Press – pretty hard to find, but a great little book
    Online Learning
    MyUni: Teaching materials and course documentation will be posted on the MyUni website (
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The course consists of two one-hour lecture sessions per week for 12 weeks plus accompanying practical work, most weeks. See section below for details on practical scheduling.

    2 x 1-hour lectures/week - see timetable
    1 x 3-hour practical work per week for most of the semester. The practicals are hands-on practice for the theory material covered in the lectures. Note that some practicals require further work at home. Some of the practical time will be used for student presentations (group work).
    The course will include field work during the mid-semester break


    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    A student enrolled in a 3 unit course, such as this, should expect to spend, on average 12 hours per week on the studies required. This includes both the formal contact time required to the course (e.g., lectures and practicals), as well as non-contact time (e.g., reading and revision).
    Learning Activities Summary
    Week Lecture Practical
    Week 1     Stress/strain, Strength of the Lithosphere, Probing the interior Scotia arc/back arc exercise
    Week 2 Gravity, Isostasy, Flexure, Rheology, Types of Crust

    Scotia arc/back arc exercise
    Week 3 Plate margins, Motion on a sphere, Euler poles, Palaeomagnetics Mid-Ocean ridge cooling
    Week 4 Mid-ocean ridges, seafloor spreading No Prac - public holiday
    Week 5 Continental extension Extension models
    Week 6 Subduction zones and arc-magmatism Extension models
    Field exercises during the mid-semester break
    Week 7 Subduction processes Tectonics in a Box
    Week 8 Orogenic wedges, Non-collisional orogens Tibet Stress Field
    Week 9 Arc-continent and continent-continent collisions Tibet Stress Field
    Week 10    Continental transforms, Cratonization Continental Geotherms and heat generation
    Week 11 Early Earth, Continental Growth, Plate tectonic drivers Assignment Seminars
    Week 12 Plumes, superplumes, hot-spots, tectonics in the solar system Assignment Seminars
    Specific Course Requirements
    Attendance is compulsory at all scheduled practical and field sessions
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    Most of the Practical exercises require intense team-work (group seminar presentations, hand-on analogue modelling in team, paired computer work, field exercises).
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Task Type Percentage of total assessment for grading purposes Outcomes being assessed/achieved  Due Date
    Practical Scotia Arc Formative & Summative


    1,2,3 Week 3
    Practical Mid-Ocean ridge cooling Formative & Summative 5% 1,3,4 Week 5
    Practical Extensional models Formative & Summative 5% 1,2,3,4 Week 7
    Practical Tectonics in a Box Formative & Summative 5% 1,3,6 Week 9
    Practical Tibet Stress Field Formative & Summative 5% 1,2,3,5 Week 10
    Practical Continental Geotherms Formative & Summative 5% 1,4,5 Week 11
    Seminar Assignments Formative & Summative 10% 1-6 weeks 11, 12
    Field Exercises Formative & Summative 10% 1,5,6 In Field
    Exam Summative 50% 1-5 Mid year exam period
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Attendance at practicals and field exercises is compulsory and will be recorded. The learning outcomes for this course are substantially dependent on this hands-on experience and practice. Therefore, missing any practical class or field session in a semester without an allowed absence will result in a grade of FAIL being recorded for the course. Students are able to apply for an allowed absence from a class by submitting the application form, with appropriate supporting documentation, to the Course Co-ordinator.
    Assessment Detail
    Practical exercises (30%): Six in-class practical exercises require a short report including results obtained during the exercises. More details will be given at the start of each Practical session.

    Seminar (10%): A small group exercise (~4 students per group). Students are asked to research a topic (each group has a different topic, topics available in week 2) and present this as a short group seminar (15 minutes). Presentations will be held in weeks 11 and 12.

    Field Trip exercises (10%): This assignment includes the following tasks: (1) Field Note Book and (2) Field data collection and analysis (structural readings, small mapping and logging exercises)

    Final exam (50%): A final written exam will be used to summatively assess the course materials.
    Late Submission
    If an extension is not applied for, or not granted then a penalty for late submission will apply. A penalty of 10% of the value of the assignment for each calendar day that the assignment is late (i.e. weekends count as 2 days), up to a maximum of 50% of the available marks will be applied. This means that an assignment that is 5 days late or more without an approved extension can only receive a maximum of 50% of the marks available for that assignment.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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