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Planetary and Environmental Isotopes


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 6
  • Convenor: to be confirmed
  • Assessment: a three-hour examination (70%), three practicals (7% each) and a poster presentation (9%)

Module description

In this module you will gain an understanding of how isotope geochemistry is used to trace and determine the behaviour of the Earth's environment, both in the present and in geological history.

Topics such as the evolution of the Earth's atmosphere and oceans, the interaction between them and the continents, and the causes and consequences of environmental perturbations will be covered.

Indicative syllabus

  • Concepts of isotope geochemistry
  • The source of Earth's oceans
  • History of atmospheric oxygen: the first whiff
  • History of atmospheric oxygen: a breathable atmosphere
  • Climate stabilisation
  • History of atmospheric CO2
  • Oceanic chemistry and productivity
  • Timing and rates of continental change
  • Dating sea-level change
  • The age of planets
  • Planetary origins
  • Timing and rates of exposure modified to encompass meteorites and other planets

Learning objectives

By the end of this module you will have:

    • been introduced to modern concepts of isotope geochemistry
    • practical skills in solving mathematical and conceptual isotope geochemical problems
    • a critical understanding of the use of isotopes in determining past and present environmental concepts and change.