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Earth's Resources and Raw Materials


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 6
  • Tutor: Professor Charlie Bristow
  • Prerequisites: some knowledge and an interest in sedimentology and igneous and metamorphic petrology
  • Assessment: one three-hour theory paper (70%), an assessed poster presentation (15%) and assessed practicals (15%)

Module description

This advanced course aims to cover the formation of economic deposits of sedimentary and igneous origin with examples from the petroleum and extractive industries. Key subjects we will cover include: the hydrocarbon play concept, hydrocarbon reservoir rocks, and the principles of ore geology.

The course examines the formation and distribution of ores and sedimentary deposits of economic importance. The first part of the course will concentrate on hydrocarbon origin, migration and habitat. Lectures will outline petroleum source rock deposition, maturation and migration of petroleum and the character of petroleum reservoirs with examples from the North Sea. Other lecture topics are concerned with ores/economic deposits developed in sedimentary rocks, including coal, placer deposits, evaporites, residual deposits and ironstones. The final part of the course will focus on magmatic, hydrothermal and epithermal ore deposits.

Indicative module syllabus

  • Economics of ore development
  • Environmental aspects of mining
  • Classification of ore deposits
  • Base metal deposits I (Cu, Zn, Sn, Ni, Co, etc.)
  • U and Li deposits
  • Gold, silver and platinum group metal deposits
  • Iron and aluminium deposits
  • Diamonds
  • Rare earth elements

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will understand the formation of oil and gas and of hydrocarbon reservoirs, and ore geology.