Close Menu

Geology Courses

Year 1

An introduction to structural geology, geological maps and environmental geology. In structural geology, the student will learn how to describe measure and analyze planar and linear features in rocks, including folds, faults and fabrics. Geological map interpretation will allow the recognition of how rock relationships are depicted on maps, and practical classes will concentrate on the construction of geological cross-sections and the interpretation of geological histories. In environmental geology, the student will be introduced to the natural and anthropogenic physical and chemical factors that affect the environment, with topics including climatic change and the combustion of fossil fuels; ocean pollution; toxic and radioactive waste disposal; land use management; geological hazards; water resources; and energy resources.

An introduction to crystal chemistry, crystallography, optical mineralogy and the geology of mineral deposits. The course is designed to develop the theoretical knowledge and critical practical expertise in observing, analyzing, describing and classifying minerals and rocks, using a hand lens to investigate hand specimens and a petrographic microscope to investigate thin sections. These basic skills are essential for the identification of ore and industrial minerals, as well as in the investigation of sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks that will be introduced in advanced level courses.

An introduction to the physical and chemical processes that operate within different environments and produce a range of geomorphological features on the Earth; Introductory aspects of physical geology, including: weathering and erosion; landforms (rivers, slopes, coastlines, arid lands, glaciated environments); and the use of topographic maps; An appreciation of the processes acting on the Earth’s surface and how they can be used to interpret Earth history as critical guide to understanding the global distribution of rocks, geological features and earth resources; An introduction to historical geology - origin of the Earth, origin of life on Earth, the geological timescale - with an emphasis on using present geological processes to interpret the past.

An introduction to the study of earth materials and earth systems, giving an overview of how basic earth processes work and how rocks and minerals are formed; Introduces topics such as the structure of the Earth, its internal processes, and basic earth materials, minerals and rocks; A central focus is on plate tectonics, now seen as the unifying concept linking earth processes and materials in the rock cycle; Practical instruction will provide the basic skills of mineral and rock identification, and will also cover volcanic and seismic processes on broader regional and global scales.

Year 2

An in-depth study of the hydrological cycle, evaporation/transpiration, and rainfall-runoff relationships in hydrogeology. The factors affecting evaporation and evapotranspiration from free water surfaces and soils. Different estimates and measurements of evaporation and evapotranspiration and soil moisture storage and movement. The nature and origin of different types of aquifers, their geological properties, the various types of groundwater flows to wells, flows within aquifers under steady/nonsteady conditions. Techniques of hydrogeological investigation, including drilling and pump testing. The hydraulics of surface water systems and seasonal variability of the flow pattern in streams and rivers. Flooding and drought. Special emphasis on the water resources of Jamaica and other Caribbean islands.

The course provides the basic skills necessary to understand sedimentary rocks. Classification schemes for clastic and carbonate sedimentary rocks based on grain size, grain type and grain fabric, and their use in the field, in hand specimens and under the microscope. Sedimentary structures (erosional, depositional, post-depositional). Diagenetic features of rocks, and diagenetic pathways using sedimentary fabrics, stable isotopes and petrography.

The course builds on the Level 1 course in plate tectonics and sets igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks within their geological context. It will look at igneous suites and their geochemical characterization, and how this can be used to identify their plate tectonic setting. Metamorphic rocks will be used to infer geological indicators. The course will also build on the student’s understanding of structural geology from GEOL1104, and explore the different tectonic styles found in different parts of the Caribbean and their importance to geological resources.

The course builds on the two major rock types (igneous and metamorphic) and rock-forming mineral identification introduced in GEOL1101 and GEOL1103, in the context of the mineralogy, chemical composition, petrology, field geology, tectonics (at the macro- and micro-scale), structure, and historical genesis of these rocks.

An overview of the most important fossil groups, and an introduction to modern palaeontological methods and research. The practical part of the course covers the fundamentals of fossilization and taphonomy and the morphology of common fossil groups within the major phyla. The lecture portion introduces the most important topics in palaeobiology, evolution, the species concept in palaeontology, phylogenetics, speciation and extinction. There will also be an overview of the major patterns in life history, covering large-scale biotic radiations and crises and their linkages to global environmental change.

The course introduces students to the theory and general principles of GIS and to practical skills and hands-on experience in its use: the fundamental concepts and basic functions of a GIS; the properties of GIS maps; the structure of a GIS database; coordinate systems and map projections; methods of performing simple vector and raster spatial analysis. In lab exercises students will work with ArcMap to visualize geographic data, create maps, query a GIS database, perform spatial analysis using common analytical tools, and solve geographical problems using a systematic approach. The course introduces the core functionality of GIS software packages such as ArcMap, ArcCatalog, and ArcToolbox.

Various techniques for collecting field data in geology, including geological mapping, collection of structural data, collection of data in a field notebook, and sedimentary logging. The course will distinguish between data (observation and recording of information) and interpretation of data. It will involve a 5-day MANDATORY residential field course and one-day field trips. One-day field trips are held on Saturdays and/or Sundays. Field trips are MANDATORY. The course begins in week 7 of Semester 1 and ends in week 6 of Semester 2.

Year 3

Advanced sedimentology; Facies analysis.

An approved research project in the field of Geosciences is undertaken in the summer preceding the final year of the programme. The course involves the formulation of a research project, the execution of the project and presentation of results. The final outcome involves a multi-media presentation of the research results, and the submission of a dissertation in Semester 2.

A field-based research project to be undertaken in the summer preceding the final year of the programme, followed by laboratory analyses and report writing. The completed project report and an oral presentation will be required in Semester 2 of the final year.

The concept of the Petroleum System. Source rock formation and evaluation. Chemical components of petroleum. Primary and secondary migration of hydrocarbons. Reservoirs traps and seals. Searching for hydrocarbons. Geophysical methods used in the search for hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbon provinces of the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.

Definitions for resources and reserves; Abundances of metals in the Earth’s crust; Overview of the natural processes that produce metallic mineral deposits; The metallic mineral potential of Jamaica and the Caribbean; How a geologist contributes to the development of metallic mineral occurrences: field mapping, sampling, core logging, data/information interpretation from field and laboratory, report writing; Rare Earth Elements; Construction materials (building stones, aggregates, cement); Industrial minerals. Resource assessments for metallic and industrial minerals.

Spatial and temporal variations in precipitation. Creation of rainfall maps using isohyetal, arithmetic mean and Theissen polygon method. Statistical methods for calculating return periods for rainfall and flood data. Hydrograph separation using computational methods and calculation of baseflow, inter and overland flow. Types of flooding and flood hazards in Jamaica. Climate change and hydrological hazards. Hydrologic Simulation models, steps in watershed modelling, description of model’s principles, mainly HEC HMS models Flood plain hydraulics - principles and concepts of HEC RAS (1D) model including case studies. Hydraulic properties of aquifers and their methods of determination. Groundwater flow calculations and flow variation under different climatic and non-climatic conditions. Geophysical and geological investigations for groundwater sources. Groundwater contamination and transport model. Groundwater wells: types and methods of drilling. Water resources of the Caribbean, with special emphasis on Jamaica. Climate change and challenges in the water sector: Jamaica and the Caribbean.

Introduction to Geophysics; Gravity Methods; Geomagnetics; Applied Seismology; Electrical Resistivity Methods. Electromagnetic Methods. Ground- Penetrating Radar. Case studies: Overview of geophysical techniques in engineering, environmental geology, oil exploration, archaeological studies and forensic applications; A field trip in which students will use Electrical Resistivity, Ground Penetrating Radar and Seismic Refraction survey techniques to identify subsurface geology, aquifers, lithological boundaries, and other engineering and environmental issues.

To be replaced in 2022/2023

An introduction to the basic principles and techniques in disaster management; A study of theory, hazards, vulnerability, response capability, risk Evaluation, disaster scenarios, disaster management, preparedness, prevention, emergency response, and simulation; Basic concepts of geology, geomorphology, tectonics and geophysics in the study of natural hazards, with special reference to the Caribbean; Hazards and risks related to volcanic activity, earthquakes, landslides, hydrometeorological processes; flooding and hurricanes; Hazard mapping. Approaches to natural hazard loss-reduction.

This course provides a theoretical and practical basis for understanding present-day tropical environments and the causes of global environmental change as well as for assessing the scale of human interference in natural environmental processes. While the causes and effects of climate change are global in scale, the course focuses on aspects directly relevant to the Caribbean Region, which include sea-level change, the influences of the different modes of climate variability (E.g. ENSO; NAO; AMO) and tropical cyclone activity.

Indicative topics include: documentary records of past climate change; biological 'proxy' records of climate variations and their quantification; the record of climate variability in the Tropics; low-latitude/high altitude ice-core records; oceanic records and past history of oceanic circulation and sea surface temperatures; role of atmosphere-ocean interactions (e.g. ENSO) on global climate change; sea level change; palaeotempestology; General Circulation Models (GCMs) of the global climate system; the concept of climate 'determinism' and human ecodynamics.

Geological evolution of the Caribbean; Geology of Caribbean mainland and island countries, and the Caribbean seafloor.

Review of GIS principles, concepts and components; Spatial Data Representation models; Remote Sensing principles, concepts and components; GNSS principles, concepts and components; GNSS Geodata acquisition; Spatial data generation and acquisition; Geodatabase creation and population; Data Automation; Geodatabase query; Geo-visualization techniques; GIS Web Mapping; (Geospatial Web Services); Mobile GIS Solutions ; GIS Programming & Application Development; Geospatial data analysis; Spatial Statistics; FOSS; SDI & Geospatial standards

Top of Page