GEOL493-24S1 (C) Semester One 2024

Unravelling Environmental Histories

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 19 February 2024
End Date: Sunday, 23 June 2024
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 3 March 2024
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 12 May 2024


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 focused 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 2024

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Friday 11:00 - 12:00 Psychology - Sociology 252 Lecture Theatre
19 Feb - 24 Mar
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 13:00 - 15:00 Rehua 429
25 Mar - 31 Mar
Lecture C
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 14:00 - 17:00 Beatrice Tinsley 112
27 May - 2 Jun
Field Trip A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Saturday 09:00 - 17:00 Christchurch/local region
19 Feb - 25 Feb
Lab A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Thursday 14:00 - 17:00 Ernest Rutherford 208 Geology Lab
26 Feb - 31 Mar
22 Apr - 26 May

Timetable Note

WEEK          WEEK STARTING          LECTURES (1 hour)           LABS (3 hours)
8                19th Feb                    Class meeting and site      Weekend field trip to collect core
                                                    introduction, European
                                                    and Maori histories

9                 26th Feb                   Principles of stratigraphy    Guided project work
                                                (for students without a      (core description and sampling)
                                                 geology background)

10                4th March                 Canterbury Quaternary       Guided project work

11                11th March                Marine micropal proxies       Guided project work
                                                                                       Research proposal due

12                18th March               Terrestrial micropal proxies    Project work

13                25th March                Preliminary presentations      Project work
                                                                                        Draft methods and intro due

17                22nd April                                                          Project work

18                29th April                  Dating                                Project work

19                 6th May                                                            Project work

20                 13th May                  Data analysis                       Project work
                                                                                       Results and analysis section due

21                 20th May           Project presentations (2 hours)      Project work

22                 27th 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 - oral (Due end of Term 1) 10%
Research paper - draft results section (Due Week 10) 10%
Final project presentation - oral (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 $1,182.00

* 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

  • GEOL493-24S1 (C) Semester One 2024