​OMG 214 Introduction to Environmental Geochemistry

Dr. Susanne Fietz

Course Synopsis

The purpose of this course is to introduce you to the application of geochemical principles to the natural environment. We shall consider the geochemistry of the atmosphere, hydrosphere and sedimentary environment. Since water is the common link between all of these environments, the course will emphasize water chemistry.

  • ATOMIC STRUCTURE & CHEMICAL BONDING
    • How does bonding affect the chemical behavior of elements in the natural environment?

  • CHEMICAL THERMODYNAMICS & KINETICS

    • Applications of thermodynamics and kinetics to the studies of environmental chemical processes

  • WATER CHEMISTRY

    • Introduction to acid-base equilibria and chemical speciation in natural water systems. How does chemical speciation influence biological uptake and the toxicity of elements?

  • REDOX PROCESSES IN THE ENVIRONMENT

    • Electron transfer reactions in the environment, and the role of living organisms. Influence of redox reactions on the elemental cycles and toxicity.

  • THE CONTINENTAL ENVIRONMENT

    • Rock weathering and formation of soils. Role of soils in the fate and transport of contaminants

  • THE ATMOSPHERIC ENVIRONMENT

    • Introduction to the chemistry of the atmosphere. Gas-phase and aerosol chemistry. Chemistry of rainwater.

  • CHEMISTRY OF LAKES, RIVERS & MARINE ENVIRONMENTS

    • General chemical composition of lake, river and ocean waters Introduction to the biogeochemical reactions occurring in these environments

Course Outcomes

i. Understanding of the natural geochemical cycles of elements at the surface of the Earth, as well as the effects of human activities upon these cycles.
ii Understanding of the processes involved in the distribution and transport of chemical substances between the atmospheric, continental and marine environments.
iii Ability to reflect on the interactions among chemical, geological, physical and biological environmental processes. iv Ability to interpret environmental geochemical data sets.

Study Materials and Textbook Recommendations

"Environmental and Low Temperature Geochemistry" by Peter Ryan, ISBN: 978-1-4051-8612-4, Wiley-Blackwell.

"Principles of Environmental Geochemistry" by G. Nelson Eby 

Additional material will occasionally be provided in class and/or posted on SUNLearn.