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Unit information: Structural Geology in 2017/18

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Unit name Structural Geology
Unit code EASC20006
Credit points 10
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2D (weeks 19 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Cooper
Open unit status Not open

EASC10001 Geology 1



School/department School of Earth Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science


This unit will provide a solid grounding in fundamental concepts of structural geology and rock deformation. Building on structural geology skills and knowledge developed in the first year, the unit will examine deformational structures in a more quantitative manner and in three dimensions.

Lectures will cover elements of stress, strain, and rock mechanics; brittle and ductile deformation (faulting and folding); macro- and microscopic aspects of rock deformation; and rheology and kinematics.

Practicals will focus on visualising and analysing structural data using stereographic projections and Mohr circles. Relevant concepts will be put into a broader tectonic context, and the relationships between brittle and ductile deformation in the Earth's crust will be explored.

A 3-day field trip to Pembrokeshire in Wales will put the lecture and practical material into a real-world context, giving students a chance to measure, plot, and interpret structural data and use them to develop a structural history for the area.

The main aims are to:

  1. develop skills in recording the principal field attributes of most naturally occurring tectonic structures
  2. generate skills in the quantitative and semi-quantitative methods of palaeostress and palaeostrain analysis
  3. interpret geological structures in terms of process and tectonic regimes.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion you will be able to:

  • understand the three dimensional nature of structural geology
  • recognise commonly occurring natural structures linked to deformation
  • describe the principles of stress and strain analysis and show how these can be applied in understanding rock deformation
  • apply Mohr circle analysis to determine the state of stress of a rock and calculate the stress required for brittle failure
  • undertake qualitative and quantitative evaluation of strain developed during deformation of rock sequences
  • determine the chronological sequence in which an exposed assemblage of structures was formed and to recognise superimposed deformation
  • describe the principles of stereographic projection involving graphical plotting of 3-D geometric data in 2-D, and have skills in reading and using such projections
  • apply stereographic projection as a means of representing the three-dimensional orientations of planar and linear structures; to use such methods to investigate and analyse three dimensional structures.
  • critically analyse the character of deformation structures and to interpret the causal deformation process and tectonic regime in which they formed
  • understand the continuum in rock deformation between brittle and ductile regimes in the Earth's crust and the implications for global tectonics

Teaching details

Lectures, practicals and a field trip.

Assessment Details

Assessment will comprise two parts:

  • A closed 2-hour examination that will cover material from both the lectures and practicals (70%)
  • A written report containing a structural analysis and interpretation of data collected during the field trip (3 pages including text and figures), plus structural maps, cross-sections, and stereonets. (30%)

Reading and References



Further Reading