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Module GL4416: Planet formation and the early Earth

  Module GL4416
Co-ordinator: Prof Balz Kamber
Course Type: Optional

Theory examination (50%), in-course assessment (50%)

ECTS: 5 Credits
Prerequisites: JS Geology or GL3320

Contact hours & timing:

Hilary Term
Weeks 21-26, seven hours per week

Module Learning Aims

(1) To familiarise students with meteorites and early Earth rocks. (2) To develop an understanding of the steps from solid formation in the Solar System to the accretion of rocky planets. (3) To appreciate the differences between early Earth geology and the more familiar Phanerozoic record. (4) To develop an understanding of how meteorites and early Earth rocks can be used to reconstruct the history of the Earth.

Module Content

This module first reviews evidence in meteorites and in the geochemistry of the Earth’s mantle for the formation of solids and planetary embryos in the Solar System.  Discussion of planet formation is followed by a chronological introduction to events that shaped the Earth until oxygenation of the atmosphere.  The module will introduce students to rocks that are unique to the early Earth with a focus on the most important events that have shaped the planet from the billion of year’s perspective.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • summarise the difference between primitive and differentiated meteorites and to explain the significance of meteorites for reconstructing the steps towards planet formation
  • recognise Archaean rocks and those aspects of Precambrian geology that are different from Phanerozoic geology
  • integrate the evidence from the rock record to explain the major events in the physical, chemical and biological evolution of the early Earth