GEOL111-19S1 (C) Semester One 2019

Planet Earth: An Introduction to Geology

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 18 February 2019
End Date: Sunday, 23 June 2019
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Friday, 1 March 2019
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 10 May 2019


A general introduction to the study of the dynamic Earth and its geology, including Earth structure and plate tectonics, volcanic activity, crystal processes and the nature of minerals and rocks.

Planet Earth gives you the opportunity to explore how our planet works. From the tallest mountains to the deepest oceans, our planet’s natural environments each have their own stories to tell yet all are the consequence of geology. In this course we will consider many of these environments and learn how to read their stories based on careful observation and consideration of the information captured in rocks and their expression at the Earth’s surface. Part detective, part interpreter, geologists make sense of things by piecing together complex puzzles using sharp skills of inference and observation: we dissect the Earth searching for clues and cues only to reassemble them into portraits of our planet.

There is no question that of all Earth’s portraits none is more inspiring than New Zealand’s. Geysers, gold, glaciers and the Alps, New Zealand’s natural diversity reflects its diverse geology – a unique system of violent volcanic eruptions and steadfast mountains counter-balanced by constant renewal and removal. In this course you will learn how geology creates these awesome environments. In this course you will learn how to read the stories written in Earth.

PLEASE NOTE: GEOL111 is prerequisite preparation for all second year geology courses.


Lectures: 3 lectures per week - TBA by central timetabling
Laboratory classes: 1 lab 2 hours per week for 11 weeks - TBA by central timetabling
Fieldtrip: 1 day trip held weekends 9/10 or 16/17 March

Learning Outcomes

  • Goal of the Course
    To provide a general introduction to the Earth, with an emphasis on processes and rocks found at and near the Earth’s surface.

    Learning Outcomes
    Students successfully completing this course should:
    1) Explain fundamental geological concepts and terms.
    2) Observe, describe and identify earth materials, structures and landforms.
    3) Interpret earth processes and events using scientific observations, knowledge and reasoning.
    4) Discover and explain how Earth works as a system of interacting components across geological timescales.
    5) Understand geological processes, hazards and resources relevant to society.
    6) Identify and solve common geological problems by synthesizing multiple independent observations
    7) Identify, evaluate and reflect on potential career paths and professional opportunities in earth science.

    Summary of the Course Content
    The topics coved by this course include:
  • Mineral composition of the Earth; Silicate minerals; Igneous rocks and processes; Introduction to volcanoes; Volcanoes and volcanic deposits; Intrusive igneous rocks
  • Sedimentary processes and rocks – general classification and features; Weathering of rocks, sediments; Mass movement; Fluvial, glacial, aeolian, coastal and oceanic sedimentary processes and the resulting sedimentary rocks.
  • Structure of the Earth – including faults and folds, plate tectonics and earthquakes.
  • Metamorphism and economic geology; Evolution of the crust and methods of dating; Mineral resources and exploration.
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

      Employable, innovative and enterprising

      Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

      Biculturally competent and confident

      Students will be aware of and understand the nature of biculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand, and its relevance to their area of study and/or their degree.

      Globally aware

      Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.



Timetable Note

Week  -  Topic(s)  -  Instructor  -  Reading(s)  -  Assessment(s)  -  Lab Topics (2 hrs)

8  -  Course Intro., Birth of Earth, Earth Struct./Tect.  -  DMG  -  Chapters 1-5, Interlude A (Marshak)
9  -  Atoms & Minerals, Minerals & Magma, Plutonic Rocks  -  DMG  -  Chapter 6, (Marshak)  -  Minerals
10  -  Volcanoes & Volcanic Rocks, NZ Volc/Hazards  -  DMG  -  Chapter 9 (Marshak)  -  On-Line Quiz #1 (2.5%)  -  Minerals & Volcanic
11  -  Geologic Time, Rock Cycle & Weathering  -  KLP  -  Chapter 7,12, Interlude B, C (Marshak)  -  Volcanic
12  -  Fluvial & Glacial  -  KLP  -  Chapters 17, 22, (Marshak)  -  On-Line Quiz #2 (2.5%)  -  Plutonic
13  -  Aeolian, Marine & Mass wasting  -  KLP  -  Chapters 16, 18, 21 (Marshak)  -  Mid-term exam (20%)  -  Friday 29, March 1 pm  -  Sediments
14  -  Metamorphism  -  ARN  -  Interlude F (Marshak)  -  Correlation & Time

18  -  Metamorphism & Metamorphic rocks in NZ  -  ARN  -  Chapter 8 (Marshak)  -  On-Line Quiz #3 (2.5%)  -  Metamorphic
19  -  Mineral Resources & Introd. to structural geology and mountain building  -  ARN & JRP  -  Chapters 8 & 15 , 11 (Marshak)  -  Field Measurements
20  -  Rock deformation - stress & strain; brittle & ductile. Rock structures – folds & faults;  classification and nomenclature  -  JRP  -  Chapters 2-4; 11 (Marshak)  -  On-Line Quiz #4 (2.5%)  -  Mapping
21  -  Active earth deformation; Isostasy & plate motions  -  JRP  -  Chapter 11 (Marshak)  -  Thickness
22  -  Plate tectonics & the shaping of NZ Course Review  -  DMG, ARN, JRP & KLP  -  Lab Assignment (25%)  -  TBA

Course Coordinator

Kate Pedley


Darren Gravley , Jarg Pettinga and Alex Nichols


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
In class lecture exercises 5% In class lecture exercises
On-line quizzes 10% On-line Practical Assessments
Short answer test 20% Short answer mid-term test
Lab Practical/Tutorial Assessments 25% Lab Practical Assignment
Final examination 40% Final examination

Examination and Formal Tests:

Online Practical Assessments (i.e. on-line quizzes)  -  20%
Lab Practical Assignment -  20%
Short-Answer Mid-Term Test (Date 27 March) -  20%
Final Examination, (Date TBC) -  40%

Textbooks / Resources

Required Texts

Marshak, Stephen,1955-; Earth : portrait of a planet ; Fifth edition, International student edition;

Recommended Reading

Bishop, A. C. , Hamilton, William Roger., Woolley, Alan Robert; Firefly guide to minerals, rocks & fossils ; Firefly Books, 2005.

Kearey, P; The new Penguin dictionary of geology ; 2nd ed; Penguin, 2001.

Course links

Library portal


PLEASE NOTE: GEOL111 is prerequisite preparation for all second year geology courses.


Lectures: 3 lectures per week - TBA by central timetabling
Laboratory classes: 1 lab 2 hours per week for 11 weeks - TBA by central timetabling


Relationship of GEOL 111 to other Courses
GEOL111 is an introductory course suitable for students with no previous experience in geology. GEOL111 is prerequisite preparation for all second year geology courses.

Restrictions – GEOL111-SU1, GEOL111-SU2

Additional Course Outline Information

Academic integrity


Marks and Grades
The Department of Geological Sciences uses the following scale to convert marks into grades:
100 – 90 A+ 75 – 79 B+ 60 – 64 C+
89 – 85 A 70 – 74 B 55 – 59 C
84 – 80 A- 65 – 69 B- 50 – 54 C-
Below 50 D/E

The Department of Geological Sciences reserves the right to adjust this mark/grade conversion, when deemed necessary.

Late Work
It is the policy for this course that late work is not accepted. Or, late work should be accompanied with a detailed explanation of why the work is late.  The work will be marked and marks will be subtracted for each day the work is late.  Days late include week-end and holidays.  

Academic Liaison
Alex Nichols (room 321,, phone (03) 364 2987 ext 94410) is in charge of liaison with students in geology courses.  Each year level will appoint a student representative(s) to the liaison committee at the start of the semester.  Please feel free to talk to the Academic Liaison or the student rep about any problems or concerns that you might have.

Students with Disabilities
Students with disabilities should speak with someone at Disability Resource Service. Their office is on Level 2 of the Puaka-James Hight Building (Central Library). Phone: +64 3 369 3334 or ext 93334, email:

Policy on Dishonest Practice
Plagiarism, collusion, copying and ghost writing are unacceptable and dishonest practices.
• Plagiarism is the presentation of any material (text, data, figures or drawings, on any medium including computer files) from any other source without clear and adequate acknowledgement of the source.
• Collusion is the presentation of work performed in conjunction with another person or persons, but submitted as if it has been completed only by the names author(s).  
• Copying is the use of material (in any medium, including computer files) produced by another person(s) with or without their knowledge and approval.
• Ghost writing is the use of another person(s) (with or without payment) to prepare all or part of an item submitted for assessment.  

In cases where dishonest practice is involved in tests or other work submitted for credit, the student will be referred to the University Proctor.  The instructor may choose to not mark the work.  

Reconsideration of Grades
Students should, in the first instance, speak to the course co-ordinator about their marks.  If they cannot reach an agreeable solution, students should then speak to the Head of the Geological Sciences Department. Students can appeal any decision made on their final grade.  You can apply at the Registry to appeal the final grade within 4 weeks of the end of the semester.  Be aware that there are time limits for each step of the appeals process.  

Special Considerations Applications
If you feel that illness, injury, bereavement or other critical circumstances has prevented you from completing an item of assessment or affected your performance, you should complete a Special Considerations application form, available from the Registry or the Student Health and Counselling Service.  This should be within five days of the due date for the required work or the date of the examination.  In the case of illness or injury, medical consultation should normally have taken place shortly before or within 24 hours after the due date for the required work, or the date of the test or examination.  For further details on Special Consideration applications, please refer to the Enrolment Handbook or visit  You have the right to appeal any decision made, including Special Considerations decisions.  

Missing of Tests
In rare cases a student will not be able to sit a test.  In such cases, the student should consult with the course co-ordinator to the Head of the Department of Geological Sciences to arrange alternative procedures.   This must be done well in advance of the set date for the test.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $917.00

International fee $4,034.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see School of Earth and Environment .

All GEOL111 Occurrences

  • GEOL111-19S1 (C) Semester One 2019