GEOL493-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

Unravelling Environmental Histories

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


Recent geological histories of Canterbury will be investigated via a lab-based collaborative research project utilizing palaeontological data along with sedimentological and chemical records. It is recommended for all students interested in palaeontology, environmental science or Quaternary sciences.

Interpreting recent geological histories from sediment records requires a multiproxy approach. This course will be focussed by location based field sampling and an overarching research question for which students will undertake individual research projects that deliver information toward the overall class project question. The overall project will vary year to year and examples may include recent geological histories of Ihutai | Avon-Heathcote Estuary or Whakaraupō | Lyttelton Harbour, or other locations within the Canterbury region. It is recommended for all students interested in palaeontology, environmental science and Quaternary sciences. Projects may centre around marine or terrestrial palaeontological, sedimentological or geochemical proxies, and are intended for students with a background in geology or any physical or chemical science subject. Through these projects students will gain skills in the collection and analysis of detailed geological data, develop an understanding of the reconstruction of past environments from a variety of palaeontological proxies, and appreciate the impacts of depositional processes on the quality and applicability of fossil data. Students will gain practical experience in spoken communication through formal presentations of their individual projects. Projects will be supported by fortnightly lectures and class discussion, as a means of developing critical assessment.

Learning Outcomes

  • Dating techniques
  • Location relevant European and Māori histories and events
  • Location relevant Quaternary geological events such as tsunami, seismic or fluvial/sedimentary events.
  • Terrestrial proxies relevant to Quaternary Science
  • Shallow marine proxies relevant to Quaternary Science
  • Palaeontological data analysis

  • Communicate and defend the interpretation of an aspect of Canterbury Quaternary history
  • Apply discipline relevant skills in a specific topic relevant to the interpretation of the geological record
  • Be adequately informed to design a project of work to extract geological histories from sedimentary records
  • Distinguish pre-human, Māori and European sedimentary record signals in Canterbury sediments
  • Evaluate selected dating techniques that can be applied to Quaternary sediments.
  • Formulate a geological history as a part of a multidisciplinary collaborative group.
    • 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 the approval of Head of School

Timetable Note

Week     Week starting     LECTURES (1 hour)                                    LABS (3 hours)
8            21st Feb               Class meeting & site introduction,          Weekend field trip to collect core
                                             European and Māori histories
9            28th Feb              Principles of stratigraphy                          Guided project work
                                            (for students without a                               (core description & sampling)
                                             geology background)
10            7th March          Canterbury Quaternary records             Guided project work
11            14th March         Marine micropal proxies                         Guided project work
                                                                                                                  Research proposal due
12            21st March         Terrestrial micropal proxies                       Project work
13            28th March                                                                           Project work
                                                                                                                Draft methods and intro due
14            4th April              Preliminary presentations                         Project work
                                               SEMESTER BREAK
18            2nd May              Dating                                                     Project work
19            9th  May                                                                           Project work
20            16th  May            Data analysis                                         Project work
                                                                                                                Results and analysis section due
21            23rd May            Project presentations (2hours)                 Project work
22            30th May                                                                              Final project paper due

Course Coordinator

Catherine Reid


Matiu Prebble and Jamie Shulmeister


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Research proposal (Due Week 4) 15%
Research paper - methods and introduction sections (Due Week 6) 20%
Research introduction presentation (Due end of Term 1) 10%
Research paper - draft results section (Due Week 10) 10%
Final project presentation (Due Week 11) 15%
Final research paper (Due Week 12 - end of Term 2) 30%

Textbooks / Resources

There is no required textbook, students will be directed to relevant reading.


Prerequisites: The course is open to all students with a background in geology or any other physical science.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,150.00

* 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 GEOL493 Occurrences

  • GEOL493-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023