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Unit information: Igneous Petrology in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Igneous Petrology
Unit code EASC30057
Credit points 10
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1B (weeks 7 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Jon Blundy
Open unit status Not open

All mandatory units in first and second year Geology programmes.



School/department School of Earth Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science


This unit builds on knowledge and skills learned in the Mineralogy and Petrology unit in year 2 of the Geology programmes (EASC20035). The following topics will be explored:

  • Melting of crust and mantle rocks
  • Crystallisation of magmas, including kinetics
  • Volatile solubility in silicate melts
  • Application of ternary phase diagrams to igneous petrology
  • Methods of constraining magmatic variables, such as pressure, temperature, redox state
  • Case studies of selected volcanoes to illustrate crustal magmatic processes
  • Links between petrology and volcano monitoring
  • Application of thermodynamics to igneous processes
  • Experimental petrology
  • Microbeam analysis

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, you will be able to:

  • Understand melting and crystallisation processes with the Earth’s crust and mantle
  • Understand the controls on trace element distribution within the Earth
  • Understand the controls of volcanic gas chemistry
  • Determine magmatic intensive parameters using mineral and glass chemistry
  • Be aware of the different types of experimental and analytical equipment used in petrology
  • Link magmatic processes to the volcanic and plutonic rocks they produce
  • Use complex phase diagrams to interpret igneous rocks and their textures
  • Use thermodynamic data to describe igneous processes
  • Understand the links between magmatism and mineralisation
  • Describe the eruptive history of several case study volcanoes
  • Understand the importance of heat in driving crustal magmatism

Teaching details

15 Lectures and 5 practicals

Assessment Details

3-hour closed examination (100%). This written exam will include questions based on the entire course.

Practicals will not be marked but individual feedback will be given.

Reading and References

Background reading

  • Cox, Bell & Pankhurst, The Interpretation of Igneous Rocks (Allen & Unwin)
  • Philpotts, Principles of Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology (Prentice Hall)
  • Wood & Fraser, Elementary Thermodynamics for Geologists (Oxford University Press)
  • Gill, Igneous Rocks and Processes (Wiley Blackwell)