- Code EMSC3034
- Unit Value 6 units
- Offered by Research School of Earth Sciences
- ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
- Course subject Earth and Marine Science
- Areas of interest Earth and Marine Sciences, Geography, Earth Physics, Geology
This course has been adjusted for remote participation in Sem 2 2021, however students are encouraged to attend on-campus activities if possible.
Mantle convection is the fundamental agent driving many of the geological features observed at Earth's surface, including plate tectonics and volcanism. However, many geologists have an incomplete understanding of the process, whilst there are many misconceptions about how it relates to surface processes. A broad background to the physics and fluid dynamics of mantle convection will be provided in this course, by explaining what it is, how it works, and how to quantify it in simple terms. It assumes no specialist background: mechanisms will be explained simply and the required basic physics will be fully reviewed and explained. The distinctive forms that convection takes within Earth's mantle will be described within the context of tectonic plates and mantle plumes, whilst the implications for geochemistry and Earth's tectonic evolution will be explored. Common misconceptions and controversies will be addressed, providing a straightforward, but rigorous, explanation of this key process. Emerging insights into the fundamental links between climate, surface processes (weathering, erosion and sediment transport), plate tectonics and underlying mantle flow will also be covered, thus providing a complete overview of Earth’s dynamic engine.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- Understand the principles of convection and demonstrate how these principles apply in the Earth’s mantle.
- Solve a range of geodynamic problems, including an understanding of uncertainties involved .
- Quantify the force-balance driving plate tectonics and the implications for the structure of Earth's interior,as imaged by seismology and illuminated via geodesy.
- Make robust inferences about mantle convection drawn from observations, thus connecting mantle convection to surface processes, geology and geochemistry.
- Formulate areas for their own future research, while critically reading and analysing scientific literature.
- Demonstrate effective written and oral presentation skills to a variety of audiences.
- In class assessment during practicals (35) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6]
- Oral presentations (15) [LO 6]
- Written lay descriptions (15) [LO 6]
- Final examination (35) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6]
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The expected workload will consist of approximately 130 hours throughout the semester including:
- Lecture material comprises online videos, grouped by topic. Approximately 3 hours per week should be set aside to go through this material, in advance of practical sessions.
- Face-to face component which will consist of weekly 2-hour practical sessions and a 1-hour interactive question and answer session.
- Approximately 58 hours of self directed study which will include preparation for lectures, practicals and other assessment tasks.
To be determined
Requisite and Incompatibility
"Dynamic Earth: Plates, Plumes and Mantle Convection": Geoff Davies, Cambridge University Press.
"Mantle Convection for Geologists": Geoff Davies, Cambridge University Press.
"Solid Earth: an Introduction to Global Geophysics": Mary Fowler, Cambridge University Press.
Assumed KnowledgeStructure and composition of the Earth; Plate boundaries; Plate kinematics; Isostasy; Gravity; Seismology.
Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.
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- Student Contribution Band:
- Unit value:
- 6 units
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