Syllabus query

Academic Year/course: 2017/18

25202 - Introductory geology for environmental science

Syllabus Information

Academic Year:
25202 - Introductory geology for environmental science
Faculty / School:
201 - Escuela Politécnica Superior
277 - Degree in Environmental Sciences
571 - Degree in Environmental Sciences
First Four-month period
Subject Type:
Basic Education

5.1. Methodological overview

The learning programme of this subject is based on the following distribution: 

Lectures.                                                       ECTS Crédits: 3

 Teching Methodology: Interactive exposition. 

Practical classes and seminars                   ECTS Crédits: 2

 Teching Methodology: Cooperative working sessions. Environmental problems solution. 

Fieltrips                                                       ECTS Crédits: 1

 Teching Methodology: individual and group tasks during fieldwork. Environmental problems solution. 


5.2. Learning tasks

The programme of the subject consists of the following activities: 

The activities are divided into on-site classes (40% of the subject) and personal working (60% of the subject).


On-site activities:

Lectures are given following an interactive exposition of the theoretical contents. At the end of every unit, the teacher will propose further reading/writing related with the explained geological content in order to solve environmental problems. The solution to those problems will be discussed and defended at the end of the lectures.  The teacher may provide short-answer tests throughtout the lectures so as to determine the comprehension level and knowledge of the students.


Practical classes will be carried out in the laboratory and classroom. At the end of every class, the students are asked to write a short report in which they have to include the methodology and the most outstanding results. The reports will be collected and given to the teacher at the beguinning of the final exam.


Fieldwork is an important part of the subject in order to consolidate the theoretical contents shown in lectures. It has been planned a total of 2 full-day sessions and a two-days camp. Fieldtrips focus on lithology recognition, geological structure, development of geological cross-sections and the recognition of landforms. It requieres maximum dedication of the student who is asked to write a personal report that has to be given at the end of every field session. 


In collaboration with the library staff, the students receive a 50 minutes explanation about Moodle digital ring and its application on the subject, and information on how to make a compulsory online course about the structure and bibliography on scientific reports. The achieved knowledge will be put into practice in an interdisciplinary tutorized group coursework (see explanation below).



Personal working activities:

This activities are thought to understand, learn and study the theorical contents explanied during the lectures with complete time flexibility. 

Lectures: The students will need to dedicate 1,5 hr per lecture in order to learn the subject contents. 

Practical classes report: The students will need 0.75 hr per session. At least, the report must include the methodology and the results. 

Fieldwork report: The student will need 1 hr per fieldtrip. The report must include the cross-sections, drawings and geomorphological maps.

Exams: The student will need a minimum of 15 hr to review the contents of the subject. The exam is divided into three parts. In the first one, the students have to recognise and describe images of different landsforms watched during the lectured or mapped in the fieldtrips. The second part is made up of short-answer questions. In the last one, the student has to make a geological cross-section.

Tutorized group coursework: It is elaborated in collaboration with the subject of Chemistry about an environmental problem that required to be solve as geological as quemical knowledge. It consist of four tasks:

Online Course (supported by the library staff)

Personal index and brief report

Group writing research work

Powerpoint exposition and defense of the work. 



5.3. Syllabus

Programme of Theory

UNIT I: introduction to geology

1. Introduction to Geology. History of Geology. Concepts catastrophists and creationists. Uniformitarianism of Hutton and Lyell. The models of landscape evolution of Davis, Penck and King. Geological time.


UNIT II: Structure and composition of the Earth

2. The interior of the Earth. Methods of study. Seismic waves and the structure of the Earth. Principal discontinuities of the Earth. The crust. The mantle, The lithosphere and the asthenosphere. The core. Earth materials: minerals and rocks.


UNIT III: Minerals

3. Properties of minerals.. Minerals. Basic components of rocks. Composition of minerals. Structure of minerals. Physical properties of minerals. The crystalline form. Lustre, colour, streak, hardness, cleavage, fracture, specific gravity, Other properties of minerals. Principal mineral groups.


UNIT IV: rocks

4. The concept of rock. Igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks. The geological cycles.

5. Igneous rocks. Concept of magma. Crystallization of magma. Evolution of magmas. Bowen’s Series of Reaction. Magmatic differentiation. Textures: aphanitic, phaneritic, porphidic, vitreous, pyroclastic and pegmatitic. Assimilation and mixing of magmas. Origin of magmas. Types of igneous rocks.

6. Metamorphic rocks. Metamorphic environments. Factors of metamorphism: temperature, pressure and chemical activity. Metamorphic changes: textural and mineralogical. Types of metamorphism. Contact metamorphism: cataclastic and regional. Factors of metamorphism. Pizzarosity and schistosity. Typology. Classification of metamorphic rocks and principal types. Concept of metamorphic facies and mineral index.

7. Sedimentary rocks. Introduction. Definition of sediment. Types of sedimentation and types of sediments. Sedimentary environments. Properties of sediments and sedimentary rocks. Types of sedimentary rocks. Detritic rocks. Conglomerate, breccia, sandstone, limonite and lutite..Chemical rocks. Limestone, dolomites, siliceous, evaporates and carbonates. Lithification, compaction and cementation. Classification.


UNIT V.- Internal Processes

8. Plate tectonics. Continental drift. Concept of lithospheric plates and physical properties. Plate boundaries. Palaeo-magnetism. Convection in the mantle. Causes of movement. The ocean deep. Continental margins. Ocean basins and dorsals of oceanic growth. Formation of orogenies. Types of orogeny. Evolution of the continents.

9. Deformation of the crust. Rheology of the materials. Regimens of force (extension, compression and shearing), mechanisms and structures of deformation. Isostacy and variations of the lithosphere. Structural geology. Situation of a plane in space. Orientation, direction, dip and strike. Normal, reverse and transform faults. Horst and rift. Folds: anticline, syncline, monocline and recumbent.

10. Earthquakes. Cause of earthquakes, theory of elastic rebound. Parameters of earthquakes and focal mechanisms. Seismicity and plate tectonics. Seismic  and tsunami risk.


UNIT VI.- External Processes

11. Sedimentary processes. Factors of control. Concept of facies. Stratigraphy. Evolution and geological time. Classification of sedimentary environments.

12. Water as an external agent. Global water balance. The hydrological cycle and its phases. Evaporation and condensation. Precipitation. Infiltration Run-off. The drainage basin. Morphometric analysis. Types of drainage network. Evolution of drainage basins. Base level.

13. Weathering. Importance of climate in weathering. Physical weathering. Chemical weathering. Biological weathering. Indices of weathering. Forms of alteration. Soil.

14. Karstic processes. Characteristics of karstic solution. Classification and description of endokarstic and exokarstic forms. Destructive and constructive forms.

15. Forms and processes of slopes. Hydrology of slopes. Water erosion of slopes. Concepts and basic principles en soil and rock mechanics. Slope movements. Types of fall: collapse, slides, flows and complex movements. Determinant and triggering factors.

16. The fluvial environment. Current flow. Base level, Erosion by river currents. Transport of sediment by river currents. Sediment deposition by river currents. River valleys. Meanders and river terraces. Floods and flood control. Alluvial fans. Characteristics and morphological elements. Morphometric aspects and factors of control. The environment of lakes.

17. The marine environment. Coastal processes. Waves, Tides. Drift currents. Storms. Cliffs and rocky coasts. Beaches: processes and forms. Barriers and groynes. Salt marshes, estuaries and lagoons. Deltas. Reefs of seaweed and coral. Geomorphology and variations of sea level. Continental platform. Continental slope. Pelagic deep.

18. The desert environment. Wind movement of particles. Processes and forms of aeolic (wind) erosion. Deflation and abrasion. Forms of Aeolic erosion. Deflation bowls, yardangs, regs and ventifacts. Aeolic accumulations. Dunes and ergs. Mantles of sand. Loess deposits. Palaeo-environmental aspects.

19. The Glacial environment. The glacial domain, factors and distribution. The balances of masses in glaciers. Classification of glaciers. Mechanisms of movement of glacial masses. Processes of glacial erosion. Forms of glacial erosion. Transport of particles by ice. Forms and deposits of glacial accumulation. Fluvio-glacial, glacial-lacustrine and glacial-marine accumulations.



Practical Programme (Laboratory/classroom):

  • P1: Visual recognition of the principal minerals. Identification of physical properties of minerals.
  • P2: Visual recognition of the principal rocks. Classification of the principal rocks. 
  • P3: The representation of relief: the topographic map. Scale. Surveying and levelling. Basic forms of relief. Identification of different units of landscape and modelling on the topographic map. Calculations and sections with the topographic map.
  • P4-P8: Geological maps. Interpretation of GEological maps and symbolos. Dip and thickness calculation. Geological cross-sections in horizontal, dipping, folded and faulted strata.
  • P9-P10. Introduction to work with aerial photographs. Exercises of photointerpretation in lithological and structural landscapes, in the fluvial environment and in the aeolic environment. 

Practical Programme (Field):

  • Excursion to the Pyrenees. 4th week (departure at 7:00 a.m. from Huesca)
  • Excursion to the Sierra de Guara Range. 7th week (departure at 7.00 a.m. from Huesca)
  • Camp to the Ebro Depression and the Iberian Range. 11 week (departure at 7.00 a.m. from Huesca and at 8:00 a.m. from Zaragoza).

5.4. Course planning and calendar

Type of activity / Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Total
On-Site Activities                                         60
Lectures 2 2 2 2 2 2 2   2 2 2 2 2  2     2       28
Seminars           2 2   2   2 2 2  2             14
Laboratory sessions        2  2                               4
Fieldtrips      2,5       2,5      5                     10
Working in groups                                         0
Tutorial                                         0
Exams                2                        2 4
Personal working activities                                         90
Trabajo en  grupo                4  2,5    2  2  2  2  4  4       24,5
Trabajo individual  4  4  3,5  4  4  4  1,5  2  1,5    2  2  2  2  4  4  4  6  6  5 65,5
 TOTAL  6  8  8  8  8 8  8 8  7  8 8  8  8 8  8 8  6  6  7 150

5.5. Bibliography and recommended resources

BB Gutiérrez Elorza, Mateo. Climatic geomorphology / Mateo Gutiérrez ; translated by G. Benito ... [et al.] . Amsterdam [etc.] : Elsevier, 2005
BB Gutiérrez Elorza, Mateo. Geomorfología / Mateo Gutiérrez Elorza . Madrid [etc.] : Pearson Educación, 2008
BB Gutiérrez Elorza, Mateo. Geomorfología climática / Mateo Gutiérrez Elorza Barcelona : Omega, 2001
BB Pedraza Gilsanz, Javier de. Geomorfología : principios, métodos y aplicaciones / Javier de Pedraza Gilsanz ; colaboradores Rosa María Carrasco González...[et al.] Alcorcón, Madrid : Rueda, D.L. 1996
BB Tarbuck, Edward J.. Ciencias de la tierra : una introducción a la geología física / Edward J. Tarbuck, Frederick K. Lutgens ; ilustrado por, Dennis Tasa; traducción AMR Traducciones científicas; revisión técnica y adaptación, Manuel Pozo Rodríguez, José Manuel González Casado . 8ª ed. Madrid : Prentice Hall, D.L. 2005
BC Anguita Virella, Francisco. Origen e historia de la Tierra / Francisco Anguita Virella . Alcorcón, Madrid : Rueda, D.L. 1988
BC Anguita Virella, Francisco. Procesos geológicos externos y geología ambiental / Francisco Anguita Virella, Fernando Moreno Serrano . Madrid : Rueda, D.L. 1993
BC Geología / José A. Agueda Villar...[et al.] . 2a. ed. Madrid : Rueda, 1983
BC Geología en imágenes : ejercicios y cuestiones didácticas / Angeles Aguilera Cascales ... [et al.] . Alcorcón (Madrid) : Rueda, 1995
BC Geomorfología práctica : ejercicios de fotointerpretación y planificación geoambiental / Juan de Dios Centeno ... [et al.] . Madrid : Rueda, D.L. 1994
BC Hamblin, William Kenneth. Earth's dynamic systems / W. Kenneth Hamblin, Eric H. Christiansen . 8th. ed. Upper Saddle River, (New Jersey) : Prentice Hall, 1998
BC Pozo Rodríguez, Manuel. Geología práctica : introducción al reconocimiento de materiales y análisis de mapas / Manuel Pozo Rodríguez, Javier González Yélamos, Jorge Giner Robles . - Última reimp. Madrid [etc.] : Pearson Educación, D. L. 2003 (reimp.2008)
BC Selby, M.J.. Earth's changing surface : an introduction to geomorphology / M.J. Selby . Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1985
BC Strahler, Arthur N.. Geografía física / Arthur n. Strahler, Alan H. Strahler ; [trad. por Marta Barrutia y Pere Sunyer] . 3ª ed., 4ª reimp. Barcelona : Omega, cop. 1989 (reimp. 2005)
BC Summerfield, Michael A.. Global geomorphology : An introduction to the study of landforms / Michael A. Summerfield . 1st pub. Harlow : Prentice Hall, 1991 [reimp. 1996]


The updated recommended bibliography can be consulted in: