GEOL476-24X (C) General non-calendar-based 2024

Physical Volcanology

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 15 January 2024
End Date: Sunday, 23 June 2024
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 28 January 2024
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 12 May 2024


This course aims to provide students with an understanding of the physical processes that influence volcanic deposits resulting from both effusive and explosive eruptions. Topics range from the magma reservoir and conduit to the final resting place of volcanic deposits and specifically include the physical properties of magmas, dynamics of lava flows and domes, structure and origin of calderas, explosive eruptions, pyroclastic flows and surges, debris avalanches, lahars, submarine volcanism and magmatic hydrothermal/geothermal systems. There is a compulsory field trip for this course run early in February.

The course begins with an 8-day field trip in early February on Ruapehu based where students will be introduced to field mapping in volcanic settings, making field observations and recording quantitative data, producing maps and cross-sections, and synthesising data into conceptual eruption models and volcano histories. Following the field trip, the course transitions into the first Term of Semester 1 with 6 weeks of seminars, which are run by the students, including setting research reading, posing questions and driving discussion, and giving feedback and reflecting on learning. This is to properly prepare students for Honours’ and Master’s theses.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students successfully completing this course will:
  • Improve systematic approach to observing geology in the field, and the difference between descriptions and interpretations
  • Improve your notetaking ability to record features and characteristics of volcanic flank eruptions and how they relate to potential hazards
  • Use your knowledge of the different types of volcanic activity, eruptions styles and scales (size) and how this relates to the field geology of volcanic edifices
  • Learn to collect volcanological/petrological field data and relate that to magmatic and volcanic processes, and styles and scales of eruptions
  • Explore and summarise volcanologic literature and develop intrinsic motivation to learn.
  • Become more confident with communication with peers, develop teamwork skills and explore bicultural competence
    • 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.


Subject to approval of the Head of Department.

Timetable 2024

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Friday 09:00 - 11:00 Rehua 429
19 Feb - 24 Mar
Field Trip A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01-P1 Friday 08:30 - 23:55 Whakapapa / Ruapehu
22 Jan - 28 Jan
01-P2 Saturday 00:00 - 00:00 Whakapapa / Ruapehu
22 Jan - 4 Feb
01-P3 Saturday 00:00 - 10:00 Whakapapa / Ruapehu
22 Jan - 4 Feb
01-P4 Sunday 00:00 - 00:00 Whakapapa / Ruapehu
22 Jan - 28 Jan
01-P5 Monday 00:00 - 00:00 Whakapapa / Ruapehu
29 Jan - 4 Feb
01-P6 Tuesday 00:00 - 00:00 Whakapapa / Ruapehu
29 Jan - 4 Feb
01-P7 Wednesday 00:00 - 00:00 Whakapapa / Ruapehu
29 Jan - 4 Feb
01-P8 Thursday 00:00 - 00:00 Whakapapa / Ruapehu
29 Jan - 4 Feb
01-P9 Friday 00:00 - 00:00 Whakapapa / Ruapehu
29 Jan - 4 Feb

Timetable Note

8-Day field course Feb
Seminar 2 hours per week for the first 6 weeks
Weekly reading, discussion boards and feedback

Course Coordinator

Ben Kennedy


Darren Gravley


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Field trip (Feb before semester starts) 50% Fail versus flow exercise (10%); Ruapehu exercise (10%); Lava map exercise (10%); Field attitude and Notebook (10%).
My project and why I choose it, and direction for reading during class 1 10% (Weeks 1 - 6)
Forums before all classes 10% (Weeks 1 - 6)
Research project presentation - if I did this again, I would change because... 10% (Weeks 1 - 6)
Positive comments (what you learnt) and analytical questions during all classes 10% (Weeks 1 - 6)
Reflections & Connections 10% (Week 6)

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

Sigurdsson, Haraldur; Encyclopedia of volcanoes ; Academic Press, 2000 (Available online through University of Canterbury library).

Course reading
• Encyclopedia of volcanoes- on-line available through University of Canterbury library

Course links

Library portal


Prerequisites: GEOL336 or equivalent

Entry Restrictions
Note: entry into this course is by application only. Please see Ben Kennedy for application form.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,145.00

* 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 GEOL476 Occurrences

  • GEOL476-24X (C) General non-calendar-based 2024