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GEOS710 – Records of Palaeoenvironments: Life and Geochemistry

2017 – S2 Day

General Information

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Unit convenor and teaching staff Unit convenor and teaching staff Unit Convenor, lecturer
Simon George
Contact via simon.george@mq.edu.au; 02 9850 4424; 0418 428217
Level 3, Room 329, 12 Wally’s Walk (old E7A)
Send email to book time
Lecturer
April Abbott
Contact via april.abbott@mq.edu.au
Level 3, Room 338, 12 Wally’s Walk (old E7A)
Send email to book time
Lecturer
Martin Kennedy
Contact via martin.j.kennedy@mq.edu.au
Level 3, Room 330, 12 Wally’s Walk (old E7A)
Send email to book time
Lecturer
Stefan Löhr
Contact via stefan.loehr@mq.edu.au
Level 3, Room 334, 12 Wally’s Walk (old E7A)
Send email to book time
Credit points Credit points
4
Prerequisites Prerequisites
Admission to MRes
Corequisites Corequisites
Co-badged status Co-badged status
Unit description Unit description
This unit will provide masters students with the foundations of palaeoenvironmental analysis as applied to some key geoscience problems. The unit will have a problem-based approach that focuses on understanding important processes, with examples from the Neoproterozoic, Cretaceous and the modern day. We will introduce the fundamentals of ocean circulation, nutrient supply and the carbon cycle. Students will assess the veracity of biogeochemical oceanographic signals, especially with respect to diagenetic overprinting. Box models will be introduced as a means for understanding geochemical and isotopic signals. The unit will cover co-evolution of life and its environment, the effect of bioturbation on sediments, and the geochemical record of life as expressed through biomarkers. The pros and cons of various proxies used for the reconstruction of palaeoenvironments will be evaluated. The unit will build knowledge about important techniques and methods such as stable and radiogenic isotopes, organic geochemistry and microscopic techniques for assessing sediments and sedimentary rocks. Assignments will build high level research skills in these areas.

Important Academic Dates

Information about important academic dates including deadlines for withdrawing from units are available at http://students.mq.edu.au/student_admin/enrolmentguide/academicdates/

Learning Outcomes

  1. An advanced knowledge of the principles and concepts of biogeochemistry, basic modelling and element cycles
  2. The ability to select and critically evaluate appropriate proxies to obtain information on past environments
  3. A knowledge of oceanic anoxic events, and the impact of life on element cycles, with a focus on the Cretaceous and Neoproterozoic
  4. An advanced knowledge of the principles and concepts of organic geochemistry
  5. Demonstrated ability to communicate about biogeochemistry and palaeo-environments to a wider audience through masters level writing and oral presentation

Assessment Tasks

Name Weighting Due
Tutorial summaries/questions 20% 4/8, 15/9, 6/10 2017
Assignment 1 30% 8th September 2017
Assignment 2 30% 13th October 2017
Oral presentation 20% 10th November 2017

Tutorial summaries/questions

Due: 4/8, 15/9, 6/10 2017
Weighting: 20%

Tutorial summaries/questions: in weeks 1, 7 and 8, there will be 3 x 15 minute "last 15 tests", to be completed before leaving the room. Week 1, 5%. Week 7, 2 x 5%. Week 8, 5%.


This Assessment Task relates to the following Learning Outcomes:
  • An advanced knowledge of the principles and concepts of biogeochemistry, basic modelling and element cycles
  • The ability to select and critically evaluate appropriate proxies to obtain information on past environments

Assignment 1

Due: 8th September 2017
Weighting: 30%

Assignment 1: The Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maxima (PETM)


This Assessment Task relates to the following Learning Outcomes:
  • An advanced knowledge of the principles and concepts of biogeochemistry, basic modelling and element cycles
  • The ability to select and critically evaluate appropriate proxies to obtain information on past environments
  • A knowledge of oceanic anoxic events, and the impact of life on element cycles, with a focus on the Cretaceous and Neoproterozoic
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate about biogeochemistry and palaeo-environments to a wider audience through masters level writing and oral presentation

Assignment 2

Due: 13th October 2017
Weighting: 30%

Paper review: Understanding past Earth events


This Assessment Task relates to the following Learning Outcomes:
  • An advanced knowledge of the principles and concepts of biogeochemistry, basic modelling and element cycles
  • An advanced knowledge of the principles and concepts of organic geochemistry
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate about biogeochemistry and palaeo-environments to a wider audience through masters level writing and oral presentation

Oral presentation

Due: 10th November 2017
Weighting: 20%

Oral Presentations by everyone in the class on individually allocated topics


This Assessment Task relates to the following Learning Outcomes:
  • An advanced knowledge of the principles and concepts of biogeochemistry, basic modelling and element cycles
  • The ability to select and critically evaluate appropriate proxies to obtain information on past environments
  • A knowledge of oceanic anoxic events, and the impact of life on element cycles, with a focus on the Cretaceous and Neoproterozoic
  • An advanced knowledge of the principles and concepts of organic geochemistry
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate about biogeochemistry and palaeo-environments to a wider audience through masters level writing and oral presentation

Delivery and Resources

GEOS710 Records of palaeoenvironments: life and geochemistry (session 2, 2017)

This unit will provide masters students with the foundations of palaeoenvironmental analysis as applied to some key geoscience problems. The unit will have a problem-based approach and will focus on understanding important processes, especially with examples from the Neoproterozoic, Cretaceous and the modern day. Fundamentals of ocean circulation, nutrient supply and the carbon cycle will be introduced. The veracity of biogeochemical oceanographic signals will be assessed, especially with respect to diagenetic overprinting. Box models will be introduced as a means for understanding geochemical and isotopic signals. The unit will cover co-evolution of life and its environment, the effect of bioturbation on sediments, especially across the Precambrian-Cambrian boundary, and the geochemical record of life as expressed through biomarkers. The pros and cons of various proxies used for the reconstruction of palaeotemperatures will be assessed. The unit will build knowledge about important techniques and methods such as stable and radiogenic isotopes, organic geochemistry and microscopic techniques for assessing sediments and sedimentary rocks. Assignments will be designed to build high level research skills in this area.

 

This unit is co-taught with GEOS920 Palaeoenvironments and biogeochemistry (Master of Geoscience). The lectures are the same, but the assignments differ slightly due to different learning outcomes. There is only one iLearn site for both units.

 

Web pages and electronic resources

The main unit web page will be on iLearn:  https://ilearn.mq.edu.au/login/MQ/

iLearn is Macquarie's learning management system. Assignments, hand-outs, and reading material will be available here.

 

Classes: There will be 13 compulsory lectures/tutorials to introduce the unit and give you a grounding in the theory behind some of the techniques. It is important that you attend these sessions every week, as they include discussion sections, and also problem solving on hard copy handouts. These sessions will not be audio recorded. and will be in 12 Wally's Walk (E7A) 324, Friday 14:00-16:00.

Unit Schedule

GEOS710  Records of Paleoenvironments: Life and Geochemistry
Week Dates What Who Classroom: 12 Wally's Walk (E7A) 324    Friday 14:00-16:00 "Last 15"
1 04-Aug-17 Introduction SG Snowball Earth from the sediment record: processes & Earth systems Daisy World
2 11-Aug-17 Organic Geochemistry & Biomarkers SG Introduction to biomarkers; diagenesis of OM; inference of palaeoenvironments  
3 18-Aug-17 Palaeotemperatures: alkenones and TEX86; environmental biomarkers/oil spills  
4 23-Aug-16 Chemical record of life; microorganisms and the deep biosphere  
5 01-Sep-17 Stable Isotopes MK Determining palaeotemperatures and palaeoenvironments using stable isotopes  
6 08-Sep-17 Monitoring the global carbon cycle, the isotope and sedimentary record  
7 15-Sep-17 Global Circulation AA Physical processes: box models and introduction to circulation Box modelling exercise
Break 22-Sep-17        
Break 29-Sep-17        
8 06-Oct-17 Global cycles; Radiogenic Isotopes; box models AA Physical processes: circulation of the atmosphere and oceans, salty ocean Jolly's age of ocean
9 13-Oct-17 Chemical processes: elemental cycling and nutrients  
10 20-Oct-17 Nd isotopes in the Cretaceous… what else do we need to know  
11 27-Oct-17 Life & Biogeochemistry SL OAEs continued, changes in carbonate compensation depth  
12 03-Nov-17 Bioturbation across Neoproterozoic-Cambrian, impact of life on cycles  
13 10-Nov-17 Wrap up all Student Presentations  
SG = Prof. Simon George; MK = Prof. Martin Kennedy; AA = Dr April Abbott; SL = Dr Stefan Löhr  

Policies and Procedures

Macquarie University policies and procedures are accessible from Policy Central. Students should be aware of the following policies in particular with regard to Learning and Teaching:

Academic Honesty Policy http://mq.edu.au/policy/docs/academic_honesty/policy.html

Assessment Policy http://mq.edu.au/policy/docs/assessment/policy_2016.html

Grade Appeal Policy http://mq.edu.au/policy/docs/gradeappeal/policy.html

Complaint Management Procedure for Students and Members of the Public http://www.mq.edu.au/policy/docs/complaint_management/procedure.html​

Disruption to Studies Policy http://www.mq.edu.au/policy/docs/disruption_studies/policy.html The Disruption to Studies Policy is effective from March 3 2014 and replaces the Special Consideration Policy.

In addition, a number of other policies can be found in the Learning and Teaching Category of Policy Central.

Student Code of Conduct

Macquarie University students have a responsibility to be familiar with the Student Code of Conduct: https://students.mq.edu.au/support/student_conduct/

Results

Results shown in iLearn, or released directly by your Unit Convenor, are not confirmed as they are subject to final approval by the University. Once approved, final results will be sent to your student email address and will be made available in eStudent. For more information visit ask.mq.edu.au.

Student Support

Macquarie University provides a range of support services for students. For details, visit http://students.mq.edu.au/support/

Learning Skills

Learning Skills (mq.edu.au/learningskills) provides academic writing resources and study strategies to improve your marks and take control of your study.

Student Enquiry Service

For all student enquiries, visit Student Connect at ask.mq.edu.au

Equity Support

Students with a disability are encouraged to contact the Disability Service who can provide appropriate help with any issues that arise during their studies.

IT Help

For help with University computer systems and technology, visit http://www.mq.edu.au/about_us/offices_and_units/information_technology/help/

When using the University's IT, you must adhere to the Acceptable Use of IT Resources Policy. The policy applies to all who connect to the MQ network including students.

Graduate Capabilities

PG - Critical, Analytical and Integrative Thinking

Our postgraduates will be capable of utilising and reflecting on prior knowledge and experience, of applying higher level critical thinking skills, and of integrating and synthesising learning and knowledge from a range of sources and environments. A characteristic of this form of thinking is the generation of new, professionally oriented knowledge through personal or group-based critique of practice and theory.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • An advanced knowledge of the principles and concepts of biogeochemistry, basic modelling and element cycles
  • The ability to select and critically evaluate appropriate proxies to obtain information on past environments
  • A knowledge of oceanic anoxic events, and the impact of life on element cycles, with a focus on the Cretaceous and Neoproterozoic
  • An advanced knowledge of the principles and concepts of organic geochemistry

Assessment tasks

  • Tutorial summaries/questions
  • Assignment 1
  • Assignment 2
  • Oral presentation

PG - Capable of Professional and Personal Judgment and Initiative

Our postgraduates will demonstrate a high standard of discernment and common sense in their professional and personal judgment. They will have the ability to make informed choices and decisions that reflect both the nature of their professional work and their personal perspectives.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • The ability to select and critically evaluate appropriate proxies to obtain information on past environments
  • A knowledge of oceanic anoxic events, and the impact of life on element cycles, with a focus on the Cretaceous and Neoproterozoic
  • An advanced knowledge of the principles and concepts of organic geochemistry
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate about biogeochemistry and palaeo-environments to a wider audience through masters level writing and oral presentation

Assessment tasks

  • Tutorial summaries/questions
  • Assignment 1
  • Assignment 2
  • Oral presentation

PG - Discipline Knowledge and Skills

Our postgraduates will be able to demonstrate a significantly enhanced depth and breadth of knowledge, scholarly understanding, and specific subject content knowledge in their chosen fields.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • An advanced knowledge of the principles and concepts of biogeochemistry, basic modelling and element cycles
  • The ability to select and critically evaluate appropriate proxies to obtain information on past environments
  • A knowledge of oceanic anoxic events, and the impact of life on element cycles, with a focus on the Cretaceous and Neoproterozoic
  • An advanced knowledge of the principles and concepts of organic geochemistry
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate about biogeochemistry and palaeo-environments to a wider audience through masters level writing and oral presentation

Assessment tasks

  • Tutorial summaries/questions
  • Assignment 1
  • Assignment 2
  • Oral presentation

PG - Research and Problem Solving Capability

Our postgraduates will be capable of systematic enquiry; able to use research skills to create new knowledge that can be applied to real world issues, or contribute to a field of study or practice to enhance society. They will be capable of creative questioning, problem finding and problem solving.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • The ability to select and critically evaluate appropriate proxies to obtain information on past environments
  • A knowledge of oceanic anoxic events, and the impact of life on element cycles, with a focus on the Cretaceous and Neoproterozoic
  • An advanced knowledge of the principles and concepts of organic geochemistry

Assessment tasks

  • Tutorial summaries/questions
  • Assignment 1
  • Assignment 2
  • Oral presentation

PG - Effective Communication

Our postgraduates will be able to communicate effectively and convey their views to different social, cultural, and professional audiences. They will be able to use a variety of technologically supported media to communicate with empathy using a range of written, spoken or visual formats.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • The ability to select and critically evaluate appropriate proxies to obtain information on past environments
  • A knowledge of oceanic anoxic events, and the impact of life on element cycles, with a focus on the Cretaceous and Neoproterozoic
  • An advanced knowledge of the principles and concepts of organic geochemistry
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate about biogeochemistry and palaeo-environments to a wider audience through masters level writing and oral presentation

Assessment tasks

  • Tutorial summaries/questions
  • Assignment 1
  • Assignment 2
  • Oral presentation

PG - Engaged and Responsible, Active and Ethical Citizens

Our postgraduates will be ethically aware and capable of confident transformative action in relation to their professional responsibilities and the wider community. They will have a sense of connectedness with others and country and have a sense of mutual obligation. They will be able to appreciate the impact of their professional roles for social justice and inclusion related to national and global issues

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcome

  • An advanced knowledge of the principles and concepts of biogeochemistry, basic modelling and element cycles

Assessment tasks

  • Assignment 1
  • Assignment 2
  • Oral presentation

Changes from Previous Offering

The unit has been rescheduled since 2016, with lectures/tutorials in a different order, and one new assessment task.