Course: Tectonics and Lithology

Instructor: - Professor W.R. Church

    Teaching Assistant: - Lisa Munro

    Lectures: - Tuesday 9-10 am, room WSC-240; Thursday 9-10 am, room WSC-240

    Labs: - Section 002 Tuesday 2-5, room B&G 129; Section 003 Wednesday 2-5, B&G 129

    Prerequisites: Earth Sciences 020; or one of Earth Sciences 081a, 083F, and one of 082b, 084b



  The main aim of course ES 200a is to provide students with an understanding of how the Earth 'works' in terms of the dynamic processes that have lead to the development of the Earth's more important  tectonic environments -  the upper mantle, rift zones, passive continental margins, ocean basins, mid-ocean ridges, oceanic and continental margin arcs, collisional and extensional zones, and the accretionary lower and upper continental crust  - and to impart the vocabulary needed to rationally discuss the fundamental geological concepts of chemical fractionation, material mixing, sedimentation, physical volcanism,  rock deformation and metamorphism,  meteorite impact, crust formation, and the genesis of mineral deposits and energy reserves.  In the laboratory part of the course, students will learn how to use rock assemblages, and their distribution pattern as seen on geologic maps, to establish the processes involved in their genesis - and  consequently the identity of the tectonic environment in which they formed.

   Since the lab component of the course involves the examination of rocks in hand specimen, and since the ability to identify a rock depends on one's competence in identifying  the minerals forming the rock, the course will begin with a review of the physical and chemical properties of the common rock forming minerals, and of the established schemes of rock classification. A 'mineralogy' test will be administered within the first three weeks of the course (Sept 24th), and a 'lithology' test on Oct 17th.

   Students will also be introduced to data management and computerized mapping (GIS) through use of the Geological Survey of Canada's data base software package 'FIELDLOG', and the analysis of lithologic maps will be demonstrated using maps of the Ewart-Forgie and Hyman-Drury townships of Ontario.  As an introduction to the concept of crustal accretion, but also in preparation for the Earth Science mapping course Geology 250Y, the course will conclude with a review of the Archean and Proterozoic geology of northern Ontario.

    Lab sessions are three hours long, and attendance is mandatory (a record of attendance and competence will be kept by the lab T.A.; see p. 23 of the Academic Calendar, concerning 'Attendance').

 Please note: students will not be allowed to arbitrarily switch lab sections during the course.

                TEXT BOOKS

    There is no required text to be purchased for the course because none exists. Lecture outlines and many of the overheads (GIF format) used in the lectures will however be available for consultation and downloading at the course web site:


    Caveat: the web site is coldware/courseware  not warmware/learnware, and is provided as a service to facilitate access to the factual and graphical material used in lectures; its existence should not be used as an excuse by students to absent themselves from class!!! Lectures are used as a means of providing explanation and promoting discussion, and only secondarily for the purpose of conveying information. Participation in class and laboratory activities is therefore a formal requirement.

       The course instructor may also be contacted by E-mail at:



    Student evaluation will include a mineralogy test (worth 10%), two short answer tests (each worth 10%) dealing with geological (including Fieldlog) terminology, a lab test worth 25%, and a final essay type examination (worth 45%) which will cover all course material (terminology, classification, geography, and concepts).


    In order to fully participate in this course, students should be able to:

    1) identify the most common igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rock types;

    2) distinguish the main plate tectonic processes and environments;

    3) know the names and valency of the most common elements in the Periodic Table;

    4) recite the Geological Time-Scale;

    5) construct cross-sections from geologic maps;

    6) use a computer running under Windows 95, 98, NT, 2000, Me.

Return to beginning.


Sep 05 Thur - 01. Introduction.

Sep 10 Tues - 02. The common rock forming minerals.

Click here to go to lecture 2.

                Sep 10 Tue Lab A) - Mineral identification and the ES computer lab.

Sept 12 Thu - 03. Tectonic environments and rock assemblages.

Click here to go to lecture 3.

Sept 17 Tue - 04. Part 1 - Classification of igneous rocks.

Click here to go to igneous lecture 4.

                Sep 17 Tue Lab B) - as Lab A)

Sep 19 Thu - 05. Part 2 - Classification of sedimentary rocks.

Click here to go to sedimentary lecture 5.

Sep 25 Tue - 06. Part 3 - Classification of metamorphic rocks.

Click here to go to metamorphic lecture 6.

                Sep 24 Tue Lab C) - TEST: Mineralogy.

Sep 26 Thu. - 07. Drawing a lithologic map using a geologic database (Fieldlog).

Click here to go to lecture 7.

Oct 01 Tue - 08. Quantitative petrography - rocks as chemical entities.

Click here to go to lecture 8.

                Oct 01 Tue Lab D) - Sect 1) Fieldlog;  Sect 2) - map interpretation.

Oct 03 Thu - 09. History of Plate tectonics, including contribution of seismology and paleomagnetism.

Click here to go to lecture 9.

Oct 08 Tue - 10.  Rifts, passive oceanic margins, and ocean basins.

Click here to go to lecture 10.

                Oct 08 Tue Lab E) - Sect 2) Fieldlog; Sect 1) - map interpretation.

Oct 10 Thu - 11. The formation of oceanic crust - ophiolites.

Click here to go to lecture 13.

Oct 14 - Thanksgiving

Oct 15 Tue - Review.

              Oct 15 Tue - Lab F) - Describing rocks.

Click here to go to lab 'Describing Rocks'.
Click here to take the rock identification self-test

Oct 17 Thur - 12.  TEST: lithology.

Oct 22 Tue - 14. The lithologic structure of the upper mantle and oceanic crust.

Click here to go to lecture 14.

                Oct 22 Tue Lab 1) - Sediments of rifts and passive margins.

Click here to go to lab 1, the 'rift/passive margin lab'.

Oct 24 Thur - 15. Active oceanic margins - Island arcs I.

Click here to go to lecture 15.

Oct 29 Tue - 16. Active oceanic margins - Island arcs II.

Click here to go to lecture 16.

                Oct 29 Tue Lab 2) - Ophiolites.

Click here to go to lab 2, the 'ophiolite' lab.

Nov 01 Thu - 17. Volcanism; the 1902 Eruption of Mount Pelee.

Click here to go to lecture 17.

Nov 06 Tue - 18. Obduction and foreland basins.

Click here to go to lecture 18.

                Nov 05 Tue Lab 3) - Volcanic rocks associated with subduction.

Click here to go to lab 3, the 'arc' lab.

Nov 07 Thu - 19. Continental collision, isostacy, and gravity.

Click here to go to lecture 19.

Nov 12 Tue - 20. Deformation structures.

Click here to go to lecture 20.

                Nov 12 Tue Lab 4) - Subduction zone blueschists and granites.

Click here to go to lab 4, the 'blueschist/granite' lab.

Nov 14 Thu - 21. TEST - Plate Tectonics.

Nov 19 Tue - 22. Structural provinces.

Click here to go to lecture 22.

                Nov 19 Tue Lab 5) - Deformed rocks.

Click here to go to lab 5, the 'deformed rocks' lab.

Click here to go to the 'polydeformation' notes.

Nov 21 Thu - 23. Precambrian geology of Ontario: the Archean.

Click here to go to lecture 23.

Nov 26 Tue - 24. Precambrian geology of Ontario: the Proterozoic;

Click here to go to lecture 24.

                Nov 28 Tue Lab 6) - Archean and Lower Proterozoic rocks.

Click here to go to lab 6 'Archean/Lower Proterozoic'.

Nov 28 Thu - 25. Mineral deposits and plate tectonics.

Click here to go to lecture 25.

Dec 03 Tue - 26. Revision.

Dec 03 Tue Lab TEST, during scheduled lab time.


Figure 2. Plate Tectonics.

Figure 3. The Basalt Tetrahedron.

Figure 4. Classification of ultramafic and gabbroic rocks.

Figure 5. Crystallization of igneous rocks.

Figure 6. Classification of granitic rocks.

Figure 7. Classification of the anorthosite suite.

Figure 8. Classification of sandstones.

Figure 9. The Brittle-Ductile transition.

Figure 10. Metamorphic facies.

Figure 11. Dynamothermal metamoprhism.

Figure 12. The geosynclinal model.

Figure 13. Magnetic structure and transform faults.

Figure 14. Plate map of the world.

Figure 15. Sea floor spreading and orogenic models of Dietz.

Figure 16. DSDP drilling results in the Pacific.

Figure 17. The principle of conservation of surface area.

Figure. Passive and Active continental margins.

Figure. Mantle Plumes and rifting.

Figure. The Afar Triangle rift system.

Figure. Oceanic sediments.

Figure. Seismic structure of the Atlantic.

Location of MacQuarrie Island.

The Semail ophiolite of Oman.

Geological map of Newfoundland.

The Bay of Islands ophiolite complex of Western Newfoundland.

Formation of oceanic crust at a spreading centre.

The Phanerozoic development of the Andean continental margin.

Island arcs.

Dietz's Geosyncline models.

The Japanese Island Arc.

Karig's Model of arc development.

Ti versus Fe/MgO ratio.

Ophiolites (Slide Mountain terrane) in the northern Canadian Cordillera.

Obduction Model.

Stevens' model of obduction in Western Newfoundland.

Ordovician obduction history of Western Newfoundland.

The Alps.

Topography and Crustal Thickness.

The Himalayas.

The Iapetus Ocean.

Pangea and the Tethys Sea.

Structural Provinces of North America.

Continental Growth.

The Grenville Front Boundary Zone.

Return to beginning.

Return to course list.