Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Affordable and clean energy Climate Action Life on land

Academic Year 2020/2021

Learning outcomes

The contents of the course include: components of the Earth system and their interactions; the main exogenous and endogenous geological processes leading to rock formation and the classification of different types of rocks; main environments of the Earth landscape (subaerial and marine) and their representation on maps.

Course contents

Introductory concepts Dynamic earth: different time scales in geological processes. The Earth system as interacting components.

The earth formation Origin of the solar system. Main steps of the earth evolution and beginning of life.

The inner part of the planet Internal structure of the earth and main indirect evidences. Heat flux . The magnetic field: origin and geological record.

Plate tectonics First evidences of continental drift and hypothesis leading to the Plate tectonics theory. Different types of plate margins and related characteristics. Active forces in plate tectonics. Hot spots and volcanic activity at plate margins.

Volcanism Structure and typology of volcanoes. Volcanic products and deposits. Risks related to volcanic eruptions.

Magmatic intrusions and related rocks. Processes of magmatic differentiation and fractioned crystallization.

The earth below the oceans Physiography of continental margins below the sea level and characteristic of the seafloor in different oceans.

Rock formation in the sedimentary environments Main physical and chemical processes of rock alteration. Diagenesis. Main components of sediments and sedimentary environments. Clastic and chemical-biochemical sediments and related rocks. Marine sedimentation. Evaporitic processes.

Metamorphic processes Main types of metamorphic processes and related rocks. Regional metamorphism and metamorphic facies.

Orogenetic areas. Processes involved in orogenesis and continental growth. Formation and exhumation of orogenic belts, examples from recent Alpine-Himalaya belt. Cratons and their location on Earth.

The record of geological successions The main principles of stratigraphy. Relative and absolute datings of geological sequences. The chronostratigraphic scale.

Rock deformation Deformation of rocks due to tectonic forces. Faults and fractures. Folds and different types.

Seismic activity Cos'è Earthquakes: origin, related records and localization. Intensity and magnitude of an earthquake. Different types of seismic waves and un terremoto?

Climate changes in the past and in the present times Main glacial stages and related paleoenvironmental changes. Astronomical and oceanographic factors inducing climate variability in the Quaternary. Present day estimates of climate changes and possible anthropic effects. Energy and related resources.

Laboratories of lithology: magmatic, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks classification.

Laboratories of cartography: topographic maps and numerical cartography


CAPIRE LA TERRA Terza edizione italiana condotta sulla settima edizione americana, GROTZINGER John P., JORDAN Thomas H, 2016, Zanichelli, ISBN 978-8808-82123-2

Elvio Lavagna, Guido Locarno (2014), GEOCARTOGRAFIA - Guida alla lettura delle carte geotopografiche, Zanichelli, 170 pagine. ISBN 978-8808-15789-8.

Mario Boffi (2004), Scienza dell'informazione geografica. Introduzione ai GIS, 192p., Zanichelli, ISBN 88-08-07525-7

EARTH'S DYNAMIC SYSTEMS - Hamblin W.K., Christiansen E.H., Tenth edition. Prentice Hall, Pearson Education.

Teaching methods

Lectures in presence and online, laboratories (lithology and cartography), field trips.

Practice in laboratory, use of instruments in the field.

Assessment methods

The learning assessment aims at complete and balanced evaluation of the degree of achievement of the objectives defined in the learning outcomes. The final grade is a weighted average of the grade allocated to the written examination (laboratory of lithology, cartography and field trips, 5 CFU) and in a oral examination divided into three questions related to the contents of the course and of the field trips (6 CFU).

Teaching tools

Lectures with power point presentations, rocks classification, practices in GIS software.

Office hours

See the website of Rossella Capozzi

See the website of Luigi Cantelli