​Geol 354 Metamorphic Petrology and Tectonics

Prof. Alex Kisters & Dr Matt Mayne

Course Synopsis

This course is composed of two components

1) Metamorphic Petrology 

This is an introductory metamorphic petrology course that aims to educate students to the point where they can identify metamorphic rocks in the field, use macro- and microscopic textural evidence to identify the metamorphic environment, and use the mineral assemblage to identify the protolith and place the rock in a metamorphic facies framework. Topics covered include: Types of metamorphism; driving forces behind metamorphism; naming metamorphic rocks; the zonal scheme of metamorphism; the metamorphic facies concept; the phase rule; types of metamorphic reactions; chemographic diagrams for metamorphic rocks; and, basic principles of thermobarometry.

Practical exercises focus on studying metamorphic rocks in thin section and students learn to identify metamorphic minerals via their optical properties. Mineral assemblages and textures are use to make deductions about the environment of metamorphism and the pressure-temperature conditions under which the assemblage equilibrated.

2) Principles of Tectonics

Tectonics is the study of the origin, geologic evolution and architecture of large parts of the Earth’s lithosphere (the crust and the upper mantle) and processes that have shaped the Earth’s crust. It is particular the plate tectonic paradigm that provides a conceptual thread linking most aspects of the wide field of Earth Sciences. Structural studies are an essential component of tectonics used in the analysis of these large-scale processes.
This three-week course provides an outline of the principles of plate tectonics. It discusses the rheological properties of plates, variations thereof and consequences for deformation. The various driving forces of plate tectonics are discussed. The main plate tectonic scenarios and common plate configurations are presented, both in terms of generic concepts as well as through case histories. Sedimentary environments, igneous provinces, metamorphic facies/evolution and styles of deformation and fabric development will be discussed before the background of plate tectonics.

Course Goals

  • To produce graduates who are competent in the practical application of metamorphic petrological knowledge, by extracting and interpreting mineral textural information in thin section, and coupling this to a theoretical understanding of metamorphic processes.

  • To providing the student with the theoretical background of plate tectonics, before which geological data (field, structural, mineral, sedimentological, geochronological, economic, etc.) can be interpreted in terms of their regional tectonic setting.

Course Outcomes

Metamorphic Petrology: At the end of this course students should be able to

  • Assign metamorphic grade based on mineral assemblages, and  use simple phase diagrams to illustrate the  relationships  between these mineral  assemblages, PT  conditions, and  bulk rock  chemical  composition.
  • Judge the relative timing of metamorphic mineral growth relative to deformation based on porphyroblast fabric relationships
  • Constrain the extent of fluid phase availability and fluid composition, based on assemblage variance and distribution arguments
  • Understand how PT conditions of equilibration from suitable assemblages are calculated, after having made assessements of issues of equilibration,mineral compositional zoning, and the quality of thermodynamic data and likely sources of uncertainties
  • Understand  relationships  between crustal  heat flow, styles  of metamorphism, P-T-t paths  and  plate tectonic  settings

Tectonics: At the end of this course students should be able to

  • Interpret geological data within a broader tectonic framework

  • Analyze and integrate diverse data sets into a coherent geological context or geological evolution.

Study Materials and Textbooks

Students should consult the following text books, as necessary

  • BWD Yardley "Introduction to metamorphic petrology", Harlow Longmans (1989).

  • JD Winter "An introduction to igneous and metamorphic Petrology", Prentice Hall (2001)

  • Davis and Reynolds. Structural geology of rocks and regions. Wiley and Sons (1996)

Additional materials and notes will be provided with the course.

Learning Opportunities

Students will be directed to case studies in the literature, and online resources