Large scale deformation and fluid or melt transport phenomena occurring within the Earth's crust and mantle are ultimately controlled by processes operating at the micro- and mesoscopic scales. Therefore, in order to model large scale dynamic processes operating in the crust and mantle, and to interpret deformation- and transport-related structures preserved in rocks, an understanding of the mechanisms of deformation and transport that operate in Earth materials is needed.
This course addresses such mechanisms, using an advanced materials science approach. It forms a core component of the Earth Materials Track within the Master Programme Earth Structure & Dynamics (ESD). It is also a useful and frequent choice for students following other ESD tracks.
Topics covered include the following:
Part 1 – Transport Mechanisms (Lecturer = Peach):
Properties of geofluids; fluid/melt transport through rock; electrical conductivity of rock; percolation theory; Effects of deformation and microstructural change on transport properties.
Part 2 Deformation Mechanisms (Lecturer = Niemeijer):
Elastic behaviour and thermodynamics of stressed solids; Defects and diffusion; Diffusion creep, superplasticity, deformation of solid/liquid/melt systems; Dislocation dynamics and intracrystalline plastic flow; Microstructure, recrystallization and deformation fabrics; Fracture mechanics and failure of rocks and ceramics; Fault slip, friction and slip-stability; Deformation behaviour of key rock materials under crustal and mantle conditions.
Throughout the course, examples will be given of applications in Geology, Geophysics, Geo-resources and Geo-storage.
Development of Transferable Skills
- Ability to work in the team: Students will complete mini-projects and assignments in teams of two and are encouraged to interact with other teams to discuss the problems investigated. Within this structure, students must distribute tasks and organize their workflow and time planning.
- Written communication: Each mini-project or practical assignment results in a written product (report) that must be completed and handed in by a strict deadline..
- Problem solving: The mini-projects, practicals and homework exercises given are extremely challenging and require creativity and imagination to envisage which processes have to be considered and how to describe them quantitatively.
- Verbal communication skills: Students are strongly encouraged to participate in actively answering questions posed by the lecturers in class.
- Work ethic. The deadlines for completing mini-project/practical and homework exercises are extremely strict so that worked answers can be distributed to all students but only when all students have submitted a given product. Failure to be professional in meeting these deadlines results in disqualification from the course.
- Analytical / quantitative skills: The miniprojects/practicals and homework exercises involve breaking complex problems, in the field of deformation and transport properties, down into their component parts, first conceptually. The conceptual components must then be systematically described using suitable equations and parameter values, introduced in the lectures, to arrive at quantitative answers.
Grading of practicals/mini-projects and homework:
- These will be continuously assessed on a pass/fail basis
- All assignments (pr + hw) given must be completed with a “pass” to pass the course
- Where appropriate and possible, feedback will include worked answers for self-study
Examinations and grading of the course:
- All assignments given (practicals and homework) must be completed with a “pass” to pass the course
- The final grade is based on two written, closed-book examinations and is calculated as follows: Mid term exam Peach 37.5% + Final exam Niemeijer 62.5%
- The minimum pass grade (weighted average of Parts Peach and Niemeijer) for the course is 5.5 out of 10, with all assignments completed. Grades between 5.50 and 5.99 are rounded up to 6.0. A grade of 5.49 or less is a fail.
- The right to a repair examination is granted if the unrounded average grade for Parts 1 and 2 lies between 4.00 and 5.49 and if the student has completed and obtained a pass for all assignments. Repair exams may address Part 1 (Peach) or Part 2 (Niemeijer) – students may choose which they prefer to resit (one only). After the repair exam, the final course grade is calculated as the average of the grades obtained for Parts 1 and 2, with the repaired grade updated. If the course grade obtained is 5.50 or above it will be set at 6.0, i.e. no final scores higher than 6.0 are given. If the final grade is 5.49 or less, the result is a fail and the entire course has be redone if a pass is sought.
- The right to a repair exam is not automatic if a student is ill. De-registering for an exam or test due to illness does not automatically entitle students to take a repair test or exam. After recovery, the student must supply a doctor’s note certifying that the student was ill on the day of the test/exam. Without this, students have no right to a repair exam.