Academic year
2022/2023 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
CT0592 (AF:379975 AR:198895)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Bachelor's Degree Programme
Educational sector code
2nd Semester
Course year
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The teaching of Earth Sciences: principles and laboratory is composed of 4 modules (parts). Module 1 (mineralogy and petrography) and Module 3 (geological processes) are organized on frontal lectures, while Module 2 (rock recognition lab) and Module 4 (cartography lab) consist of laboratory and practical activities, exercises and didactic fieldwork. Earth Sciences is a “caratterizzante” teaching in Environmental Sciences, i.e. the theoretical contents and laboratory activities aim to provide the student with the basics to develop and understand the subsequent teachings delivered during the degree course. In addition, the program is structured to provide the student with a multidisciplinary vision of Earth Sciences, encompassing many disciplines, such as mineralogy, petrography, sedimentology, geophysics, geochemistry, volcanology, cartography and geographic information systems.
The teaching on Earth Sciences (Modules 1-4) aims to provide the student with the basis for understanding the geological-physical characteristics of the environment, mineralogy, petrography and geochemistry, and distribution of the various types of rocky outcrops. Some basic concepts of sedimentology, stratigraphy, geomorphology, and structural geology are also discussed. The Earth will be studied as an undisturbed (natural) system; this is the basis for understanding changes and impacts triggered by anthropic activities. In particular, this teaching aims to (i) describing the structure of the Earth, (ii) analyzing the geological processes, (iii) describing the types and properties of the main minerals of the rocks; (iv) identifying a rock and understanding its properties; (v) studying the processes which lead to the degradation and erosion of rocks; (vi) “reading” the lithostratigraphic units to trace the geological processes; (vii) understanding plate tectonics and being able to read the deformations of the continental crust; (viii) knowing and correctly interpreting a topographic map and being able to read a geological map.

Module 1 focuses on the study of the materials forming the Earth's crust, analyzing their properties, their physical and chemical characteristics and their interaction with the atmosphere, the hydrosphere and the biosphere. In particular, Module 1 deals with the study and classification of minerals, the various types of rocks present in the Earth's crust (magmatic, sedimentary, metamorphic) and the lithogenetic cycle.

The final aim of the whole course of “Earth Sciences - Principles and Laboratory”, comprehensive of the four modules, is to provide an overview of the Earth Sciences basic principles and, on a broader perspective, increase knowledge of the physical world. In this way, the graduate student in Environmental Sciences will acquire the competences needed to communicate with the Earth Science specialists during his/her future professional career.
The teaching of Fundamentals of Earth Science and Laboratory aims to provide the student with a broad and comprehensive introduction to Earth Sciences by using reasoning and concepts of Geology to understand the environment. Attendance and participation in the formative activities of Module 1 (lectures, seminars) and Module 2 (laboratory, excursions) will allow the student to:

1. Knowledge and understanding
1a. Knowing the basic concepts and appropriate terminology used in Earth Sciences;
1b. Understanding the chemical-physical processes that generated the various types of rocks;
1c. Understanding the geological, geographical and climatic factors of physical degradation, chemical alteration and erosion of rocks;
1d. Use the knowledge acquired in the frontal lessons in the analysis of natural resources and the vulnerability of the territory using specific and interdisciplinary laboratories to be carried out in the field;
1e. Understand the environmental dynamics, the processes inside the Earth and their external effects.

2. Ability to apply knowledge and understanding
2a. Knowing how to correctly use terminology and geological principles in all the processes of application and communication of Environmental Sciences;
2b. Knowing how to identify the geological processes that shaped the planet and understand its mechanisms and products;
2c. Knowing how to identify and describe the most common types of rock, their mineralogical composition, their properties and the formation environments;
2d. Knowing how to describe the physical and chemical degradation processes of rocks;

3. Ability to judge
3a. Knowing how to formulate and argue hypotheses on the basis of the concepts learned during teaching;
3b. Knowing how to apply knowledge and tools of Earth Sciences to explain the shape, composition and properties of the Earth system;
3c. Knowing how to apply a critical and multidisciplinary approach;

4. Communication skills
4a. Knowing how to communicate the concepts learned in the geological field, using appropriate terminology;
4b. Knowing how to interact with different professional figures that a graduate in Environmental Sciences will find along his/her professional career, such as biologists, chemists, geologists, doctors, epidemiologists, as well as with figures of non-scientific fields (politicians, economists, etc.);
4c. Knowing how to simplify and summarize the concepts of Earth Sciences to the general public, using simple and direct terminology;

5. Learning skills
5a. Knowing how to apply the concepts learned in the classroom to real case studies;
5b. Knowing how to read the geological and environmental processes that have shaped a territory;
5c. Knowing how to critically consult the reference texts and know how to interpret the bibliography that will be proposed during the didactic path.
Basic knowledge of inorganic chemistry.
The Module 1 is organized into 4 parts.

Part 1 (introduction) deals with the structure of the Earth (and its subdivisions) and briefly describes the theory of plate tectonics to define the different geodynamic environments.

Part 2 (elements of mineralogy) describes minerals and their properties. The amorphous state and the crystalline state, the crystallization process are studied and the elements of symmetry, the law of symmetry and crystalline systematic are introduced. The atomic structure of the minerals is presented, isotropy and anisotropy are explained, the various classes of minerals are described (silicates, carbonates, oxides, sulphides, sulphates). The main structures and groups of silicates are defined (neso-, soro-, ino-, phyllo-, and tecto-silicates). The physical properties of minerals, specific gravity, melting point, hardness, cleavage, toughness, gloss, transparency, color, refractive index, piezoelectricity and magnetic properties are examined. Polymorphism, isomorphism and vicariance are described.

Part 3 (elements of petrography) describes the rocks present in the Earth's crust (magmatic, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks). It explains the chemical composition, minerals and classification of intrusive and effusive magmatic rocks. Classification diagrams of magmatic rocks are presented. The crystallization of the magma is described and the Bowen reaction series is analyzed. The sedimentary process is introduced: meteoric degradation, the main types of chemical alteration of the rocks, transport of unconsolidated material, sedimentation and diagenesis. Minerals of sedimentary rocks are introduced, with an in-depth analysis on clay minerals. The main types of sedimentary rocks and their chemistry are described. The metamorphic process (regional, contact metamorphism) and the main types of metamorphic rocks are described.

Part 4 (geodynamic environments) briefly describes the lithogenetic cycle during exogenous and endogenous processes in the different geodynamic environments. The geological forms of volcanic bodies and plutonic intrusive bodies are analyzed.
Reference book for the Earth Sciences: principles and laboratory:

Grotzinger, J.P., Jordan, T.H. Capire la Terra. Terza edizione italiana condotta sulla settima edizione americana, Zanichelli, 2016. ISBN: 978-8808821232 [ ]

Some optional books and supplementary readings are available at the University library system (Scientific campus, alpha building) or upon request to the teacher:

Klein, C., Philpotts, A.R. Mineralogia e petrografia. Prima edizione italiana condotta sulla seconda edizione inglese, Zanichelli, 2018. ISBN: 978-8808320605
[ ]
Attendance. Participation in the two field trips and in practical classes of Modules 2 and 4 (at least 75%) is mandatory for admission to the final exam. A sign-in sheet will be provided at the start of each laboratory session so that attendance will be taken every class period. In addition, it is also mandatory to deliver the topographic maps with measurements of the strata attitudes taken during the field trips. Part-time students are asked to contact the teachers to plan a course of study appropriate to their needs and timing.

Exam. The exam of Module 1 will be hold together with Module 2 and consists of an oral test divided into two parts. In the first part, students have to recognize and describe a rock provided on the day of the exam. All the rocks belong to the collection of the geo-mineralogy lab and can be consulted by students during Module 2 and, on request, during the preparation of the exams at any time of the year (please contact the teachers in advance). The second part deals with the concepts presented during the lectures. A maximum of 10 points will be assigned to the first activity (rock recognition), a maximum of 20 points will be assigned to the second part (theory).

Evaluation/Grading. Overall, examinations of Modules 1+2 and 3+4 will concur to the final mark of the entire course of “Earth Sciences: Principles and Laboratory”. The marks assigned to the tests of Module 1 + 2 and Module 3 + 4 will be considered valid for a maximum period of 12 months.
Module 1 is composed of fontal lessons with possible seminars of teachers and researchers inside or outside the University.
All lessons and supplementary materials are available as presentations in PDF format and are distributed to students on a weekly basis using the Moodle teaching platform. Students are invited to periodically keep an eye on Moodle for updates.

The teaching course includes two didactic field trips in Modules 2 and 4. The first excursion is on the Colli Euganei, the second on the Dolomites (Passo Valles). The excursions aim to consolidate the geological knowledge acquired during lectures and workshops.

This subject deals with topics related to the macro-area "Climate change and energy" and contributes to the achievement of one or more goals of U. N. Agenda for Sustainable Development

Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 07/05/2022