IB Geological Sciences B

The Geological Sciences B course deals with the subsurface processes of the lithosphere and asthenosphere. It focuses on igneous and metamorphic processes and products, but includes the study of the mineralogy and geochemistry relevant to the deep Earth. This course also includes the tectonics of orogenic belts in relation to their thermal and chemical evolution.


Mount Etna eruptingThe origins of the Earth

We'll find out how the Earth began through exploring its chemical history. When and how did the cocktail of elements that make up the Earth form? And how did this evolve into the planet we know today? These questions lead us to explore melting and crystallisation of rocks and to investigate how key elements give further clues to the origin of igneous rocks. We'll learn about the relationships between tectonic setting and magmatism, by examining models for melting at spreading ridges, hotspots and subduction zones.

Metamorphic processes and mountain-building

Next we look at the crustal processes that form metamorphic rocks. By understanding the microscopic controls on mineral growth, reaction and deformation, we learn how to interpret rock textures, and diagnose the pressure and temperature conditions under which they formed. Then find out how the analysis of metamorphic rocks in thin section gives clues to the tectonic evolution of mountain belts and collision zones.

Alaknanda River, the headwaters of the Ganges © Prof. M. BickleCase studies

Throughout the course, igneous and metamorphic processes are illustrated in a series of case studies from different parts of the world. The Himalayas are used to explain the origins of mountain belts and the interaction of tectonics and metamorphism, and the western USA, including Mount St. Helens and the Cascades, provides an explanation to the relationship between active volcanoes and their underlying magma chambers.


If you intend to do third year Geological Sciences you will already have done the Cumbria Mapping Course before the start of your second year. Then, at Easter in Year 2, you go on the Southwest England Field Course. Most second year students attend the whole course. If you are not doing Geological Sciences A, you have the option of going on the Cornwall half of this trip only.



How Geological Sciences B fits with your degree programme

The IA Earth Sciences course in Year 1 is normally a prerequisite for this course.

Students continuing into Years 3 and 4 will normally take both Geological Sciences courses (A and B) in Year 2 .

Geological Sciences B can also be combined with 2 non-geological subjects in the second year. You can still go on to Geological Sciences in years 3 and 4, but you will have a reduced choice of options and may need to do some additional work to cover prerequisite material.






Knowledge of part IA Earth Sciences is assumed. In exceptional cases it may be possible to read IB Geological Sciences without having read Earth Sciences at Part IA. This needs careful discussion both with the course coordinator and your college Director of Studies.

Last updated on 07-Oct-10 12:46