Tracks are recommended, coherent combinations of courses from the programme. They are meant to help students designing their own curriculum and they facilitate specialisation within the programme. On this page you will find information about the four tracks offered within the Earth, Life and Climate programme.
Dynamics of marine and continental sedimentary systems
Geologists use geologic time scales to monitor the effects of climate, tectonics, and sea level on sedimentary basins over time. Oscillations, trends, or aberrations that have occurred due to changes in these systems are reflected in the sedimentary record and can be studied through field observations, modelling, and lab experiments. These changes are known as sedimentary basin dynamics. An understanding of sedimentary basin dynamics can help predict the occurrence and reservoir size of fossil fuels and other natural resources.
On this track, you will use an integrated stratigraphic approach to explore the dynamics of marine and continental sedimentary systems. You will focus specifically on the processes surrounding the production, transport, and deposition of siliciclastic and carbonate sediments, as well as the application of radiometric and astronomically derived age models.
The reconstruction of climate change through Earth's history
On the Climate Reconstruction track, you will focus on reconstructing historical climate changes using high-resolution proxy records such as temperature, CO2, salinity, sea level, continental aridity, and climate modelling experiments. The main aim of this area of study is to identify the external and internal forces driving climate change and to understand the response of amongst others the oceans, ice sheets, monsoons, and carbon cycle to these forces. This knowledge can help you predict future climate change and evaluate the consequences of measures taken to counteract these changes.
The evolution and response of biota to perturbations in the environments
On the Biogeosciences and Evolution track, you will focus on the evolution and response of biota to perturbations in their environments. You will also work on establishing biogeochemical and geochemical fingerprints to reconstruct particular environmental conditions. Special emphasis is placed on the development of organic and inorganic proxy records such as temperature, CO2, and salinity, through experimental research and actuo-ecological studies. You will also explore ways of identifying new evolutionary traits in microorganisms (e.g. foraminifera and dinoflagellates) and macroorganisms (e.g. mammals and dinosaurs).
Processes that control the elemental cycles at the Earth’s surface
On the Biogeochemistry track, you will focus on the processes controlling natural environments on the Earth’s surface. These environments are connected together by the hydrologic cycle and their chemistry is strongly influenced by biological activity. These environments are increasingly perturbed by human activity on a local, regional, and global scale. On this track, you will gain knowledge of the biological, geochemical, and hydrodynamic interactions taking place within these systems. This will allow you to predict the impact of that activity on Earth’s surface environments, as well as developing the means to maintain and improve the quality of these environments.