94212 - Laboratory of Teaching Tools of Geology

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

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The course aims to provide knowledge and methodological tools necessary to move towards teaching in the geological field with an integrated approach, transverse and interdisciplinary with the biological and chemical fields. At the end of the course, the student is able to exploit the methodological aspects necessary to organize individually and collectively a training course in geological sciences integrated with biological and chemical disciplines and consolidates his familiarity with the elementary procedures of characterization and recognition of minerals and rocks. In particular: (a) safely uses instrumentation and equipment for field explorations of moderate difficulty; (b) is able to collect geologic samples and process experimental data related to geologic formations; (e) understands the correlation between observations and experimental data in the geologic field and scientific principles; (f) is able to correctly set up a scientific report on an observed or simulated geologic process; (g) is able to plan an integrated education with experimental and observational procedures in the field of geology.

Course contents

The laboratory course consists of two modules taught by Prof. Giorgio Gasparotto and Prof. Claudio Tranne.

This module aims to integrate the basic preparation of students in the field of mineralogy and petrography, integrating the theoretical bases with laboratory activities in the classroom and outdoors. At the end of the module the student will be able to describe and recognize the main minerals and rocks, their properties and uses. This information should be used to devise instructional pathways suitable for teaching classes.

Organize a collection of minerals, describe them, know their composition, physical properties, uses, origin.
Describe the main types of rocks also using optical microscopy techniques.
Observe and recognize rocks in the urban environment, their uses, and degradation phenomena.


The basics of mineralogy: 4 hours lecture + 4 hours laboratory with minerals.

Deepening of some topics of petrography: description and study of the rocks. 4 hours lecture + 4 hours laboratory. You will learn the basics of studying rocks under a polarizing microscope.

Rocks in the urban environment: 4 hours lecture + 4 hours of outdoor laboratory with a visit to specific areas (ancient buildings, squares) where there is an important use of ornamental rocks, both ancient and current. Design of outdoor educational workshops. The course includes integrations with chemistry: the physical processes of stone decay. Chemical dissolution, effects on surfaces, formation of patinas and black crusts (experimental mineralogy: dissolution of carbonates, sulfate formation, gypsum).


The main objective of this module is to define how the landscape, hydrosphere and atmosphere respond to the stresses of volcanic eruptions. At the end of the course, the student will have a preparation that will allow him to know the basic concepts about the impact of volcanic eruptions on the environment (ecosystems and society) and then to develop educational paths able to convey this knowledge in a correct way. Therefore, the student will be able to recognize: i) the main volcanic morphologies and distinguish the volcanic deposits (primary and secondary) associating them to the genetic processes that generate them (explosive/effusive activity); ii) risk and hazard assessments of volcanic eruptions; iii) assessment of the stochastic impact of eruptions on ecosystems and society, especially in relation to the nature of ecosystems.


1) Impact of volcanic eruptions on ecosystems in order to assess how they may affect the environment through the definition of:

(a) physical effects (thermal, dynamic pressure, and loading), brought about by explosive volcanic activity through the emplacement of deposits from pyroclastic flow, tephras, or lahars on a given ecosystem; thermal and burial effects exerted by lava flows associated with effusive volcanism will also be considered;

(b) chemical effects. It will be investigated how volcanic eruptions modify the chemical environment of the surrounding ecosystems through the production of volatiles and pyroclastic material. Volcanic gases can vary greatly in composition, but often include significant amounts of CO2, SO2, H2O, and sometimes HCl and HF. Ecosystems may be exposed to these gases either as dry deposition (gaseous and particulate) or as wet deposition (precipitation, aerosol) following contact with water;

(c) climatic effects. Analysis of how large explosive and effusive events have the potential to alter climate through the production of stratospheric aerosols and through electrostatic levitation of fine particles in the ionosphere.

(d) Biological feedbacks. Consideration will be given to how the impact of an eruption on one component of an ecosystem may affect other components of the same ecosystem, even if those components are not directly affected (e.g., if a plant species is completely resistant to tephra deposition or acid precipitation following an eruption, it may instead be affected by the impact on its predators, pathogens, or competing species).

(e) Links to anthropogenic activity. The feedback process regarding the impact of volcanic activity on populations and societies will be explored. Volcanic eruptions can result in social changes that lead to a change in land use and thus landscape, which will be reflected in ecosystems that may ameliorate or worsen the direct impact of volcanism (e.g., abandonment of pasture following an eruption may reduce pressure on vegetation, leading to faster post-eruption recovery).

Energy and Low and High Enthalpy Geothermics

The principles of low- and high-enthalpy geothermal energy will be illustrated in order to estimate and exploit, both from a cultural and economic point of view, a form of clean energy, highlighting in particular the importance of the mining context (preventive geological investigations), the ways of using geothermal energy (direct and indirect use) and the different plants.


Texts and recommended course materials will be added prior to the start of the course

Teaching methods


Laboratory exercises with minerals and rocks

Classroom exercises with volcanic lithotypes and exercises to calculate the parameters of eruptions

Laboratory of optical mineralogy with the use of polarizing microscope

Outdoor laboratory ("urban geology")

Outdoor laboratory: excursion to the geothermal field of Larderello

Assessment methods

Test with multiple-choice and open questions

Oral (after the first call)

Teaching tools

Theoretical lectures delivered using powerpoint and/or keynote presentations with midterm reviews using the Kahoot learning platform.

Office hours

See the website of Giorgio Gasparotto

See the website of Claudio Antonio Tranne