GEOL244-23S2 (C) Semester Two 2023

Structural Geology and Global Geophysics

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 17 July 2023
End Date: Sunday, 12 November 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 30 July 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 1 October 2023


Nature and origin of structures produced by deformation in the Earth’s crust, and material properties of rocks that affect the way in which they respond. Practical geometric methods associated with deriving and representing the three dimensional form of structures commonly encountered in geological practice, and synthesis of tectonic settings. This course also covers large-scale geometry and processes of plate tectonics, and topics in global geophysics linked to current observation and plate tectonic theory.

When rocks in the Earth’s crust are subjected to stresses generated by dynamic tectonic processes, they are deformed into a variety of structures. This course introduces many of these structures and the physical processes that result in their formation.

While the lecture course emphasizes the nature and origin of the range of deformation structures, the laboratory course concentrates on the practical geometric methods associated with deriving and representing the three dimensional form of such structures. This involves the use of various projection techniques to solve problems that are commonly encountered in geological practice. In the latter part of the course, a synthesis of the way in which characteristic associations of structures develop into distinctive styles in different tectonic settings are introduced.

The course ends with an introduction to some aspects of the large-scale geometry and processes of plate tectonics. Selected topics in global geophysics (crustal seismology, and isostasy) provide an overview of the nature of global processes, linked to current observation and plate tectonic theory.

Learning Outcomes

  • Goal of the Course
    Provide students with principal deformation processes occurring in the lithosphere and their underlying causes.

    Learning Outcomes
    Students successfully completing this course will:
  • have an understanding of geological materials, and of the basic principles of the mechanics and kinematics of rock deformation;
  • be familiar with a range of common deformational structures, their classification, terminology and the way in which they are associated in the principal tectonic regimes generated by primary plate interactions and gravitational processes; and
  • be able to apply a range of standard techniques to the analysis of geologic structures.
  • have developed a fuller understanding of the nature of plate tectonics and the structure of the Earth’s crust.
  • develop an understanding of some selected basic principles of global geophysics in the fields of seismicity and isostasy, and their relationship to plate tectonics and the structure of the Earth’s interior.

    Summary of the Course Content
    The topics coved by this course are:
  • Structural Geology (kinematic analysis, brittle and ductile deformation, stress and strain, description of major deformation structures)
  • Global Geophysics (forces that drive plate motion and thus cause earthquakes and major deformation structures in the lithosphere).
    • 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.

      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.


GEOL111 and any 15 points at 100 level from GEOL.

Timetable Note

36 lectures - 3 x 1 hour lectures per week. Schedule to be advised

30 hours of laboratory based practical exercises - One 2.5 hour practical class each week – times for laboratory streams to be advised.

Week # Week starting date Lecture Topics Lecturer Lab Topics
29 July 13 Introduction to Course; Rock Materials AN Descriptive Geometry I (KP)
30 July 20 Strain theory; Stress and Mohr circle AN Descriptive Geometry II (KP)
31 July 27 Stress and Mohr circle; Fractures and brittle failure AN Stereonets I (KP)
32 August 3 Faults, terminology growth kinematics; Folds classifications and mechanisms AN Stereonets II (KP)
33 August 10 Folds classifications and mechanisms AN Stereonets III (KP)
34 August 17 Foliations, lineations and boudinage AN Stereonets IV (KP)

35, 36 Mid-semester Break

37 September 7 Interpretation seismic reflection lines; Reverse/Thrusting Faulting and Styles of Deformation AN Balanced Cross Sections (AN)
38 September 14 Strike-slip Faulting and Styles of deformation; Transpression, Transtension and Oblique-slip Styles of Deformation JP Analogue modelling I (JP)
39 September 21 Transpression, Transtension and Oblique-slip Styles of Deformation; Global Seismology & Crustal Earthquakes JP Analogue modelling II (JP)
40 September 28 Normal Faulting and Styles of deformation AN Analogue modelling II (AN)
41 October 4 GPS measurements of Deformation; New Zealand structures and tectonics AN Lab revision (AN)
42 October 11 New Zealand structures and tectonics;
Catchup/summary course content second term AN Lab test (AN)

Course Coordinator

Andy Nicol


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
In-term assessment 60% In-term assessment (assignments and tests)
Final Examination 40% Final Examination

In-term assessment  -  60% (assignments and tests; details to be advised)
Final examination  -  40%

Examination and Formal Tests
Final exam, date TBA during end of year exam period

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Textbook
Fossen, H. 2016. Structural Geology. Cambridge University Press, 2nd Edition.

Useful Textbooks
Davis, George H; Reynolds, Stephen J. Structural geology of rocks and regions, Wiley. 2nd ed. John Wiley, 1996.
Leyshorn, Peter R; Lisle, Richard J. Stereographic projection techniques in structural geology, Butterworth-Heinemann, 1996.
Additional reading will be required.  References and further resource materials will be provided by the individual lecturers during the course.


GEOL111 and GEOL112 are prerequisites for all 200 level courses, including GEOL244. In exceptional cases, students with a standard acceptable to the HOD, GEOL113 may be substituted for GEOL111 or GEOL112.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $951.00

International fee $4,750.00

* 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.

Minimum enrolments

This course will not be offered if fewer than 30 people apply to enrol.

For further information see School of Earth and Environment .

All GEOL244 Occurrences

  • GEOL244-23S2 (C) Semester Two 2023