Endogenous Geology Teaching M.SC


Title of Course

Content of Course

Global Tectonics(M.Sc.)











The lectures give an overview on the global structure of the lithosphere, its evolution in time, and the underlying processes, with emphasis on the geological record. Topics are:


  • Composition and internal structure of planet earth, patterns of mantle convection, linking geological and petrologic record at the surface with geophysical experiments and models, time and length scales.
  • Present day plate motion, plate boundaries, geological record versus seismological and geodetic observations at diffuse plate boundaries.
  • Divergent plate boundaries, origin and properties of oceanic lithosphere, ophiolites.
  • Hot spots volcanism and flood basalt provinces; oceanic islands, seamounts, aseismic ridges, oceanic plateaus.
  • Conservative plate boundaries in oceanic lithosphere, transform faults and oceanic fracture zones.
  • Convergent plate boundaries, subduction and collision.
  • Continuous and discontinuous accretion, terranes, collision, growth of continental lithosphere.
  • Orogenic belts along active continental margins.
  • Crustal extension, rifting to passive margin formation, basin and range tectonics.
  • Structure and evolution of passive continental margins.
  • Intraplate deformation in continental lithosphere

Active Tectonics and Paleoseismology



Topography of the Earth is controlled by tectonics. The course addresses geologically young structures, from fault scarps to terraces, and their relation to the underlying active tectonic processes. Methods of mapping such structures, their relative and absolute chronometry, and paleoseismological approaches to reconstruct past activity as the base for hazard analysis are discussed. The relation between structural record and high-resolution geodetic surveys is addressed. Special emphasis is on tectonics on human time scales and the impact on human society.










The course covers all processes relevant to the generation of magma in the Earth interior, its extraction and ascent, its accumulation and differentiation in subsurface magma chambers and magmatic conduits, and the volcanic eruptions at the surface. Emphasis is on the interpretation of magmatic rock associations and structures in terms of processes, and linking these concepts with observations on presently active systems. As a fundamental aspect, the physical properties of silicate melts as a function of composition and environmental variables are discussed. Processes during volcanic eruptions are correlated with the properties and structures of volcanic products and deposits, providing the base for the reconstruction of fossil eruptions, the evolution of volcanic edifices in time, and predictions on their interior. This is essential for all kind of hazard assessment and mitigation in presently active volcanic regions. Exposed solidified magma chambers and conduits (plutons, dikes) yield insight into dimensions, geometry, and evolution of magma chambers. Simple concepts for interpretation of the record and derivation of models are discussed. The world-wide distribution of magmatism and modes of eruption are addressed within a global tectonic framework, considering appropriate models of magma generation. The lectures are combined with a seminary.


















The lectures address the fundamentals of microfabrics of crystalline materials, based on the understanding acquired in preceding couses in crystallography, petrology, rock physics and tectonics. The methodological focus is on the reconstruction of past processes and conditions in rocks (using polarization, scanning, and transmission electron microscopy) based on the results of laboratory experiments and theoretical studies. There is an intimate relation with material sciences. The topics comprise:

  • What can be learnt from rock microfabrics? Polarization microscopy as the tool with the highest density of information. Relation between rock microfabrics and material science.
  • 2D-sections through 3D-structures. Basic concepts of stereology.
  • Interfaces and their geometrical properties.
  • Energy of interfaces; processes driven by the reduction of interfacial free energy; microstructures controlled by interfacial free energy; grain growth and Ostwald ripening.
  • Dislocations; geometry and properties.
  • Conservative motion of dislocations; dislocation glide as deformation mechanism.
  • Non-conservative motion of dislocations.
  • Interaction between dislocations; origin of dislocations, dislocation sources.
  • Recovery and recrystallization.
  • Microcracking; mechanical twinning.
  • Dissolution precipitation creep.
  • Rheological regimes and mechanical equations of state; deformation mechanism maps.
  • Microfabrics and flow stress; paleopiezometry.
  • Shape preferred orientation and crystallographic preferred orientation.
  • Kinematics indicators.
  • Nucleation and crystal growth; reaction fabrics.
  • Relations between deformation and crystallization; overprinting; reconstructing the history of a rock.

Exercises in microfabrics



The exercises serve the application of the principles and concepts dealt with in the course “Microfabrics“. Independent work on thin sections of a wide variety of natural rocks, guided by detailed descriptions, strengthens the ability to observe for oneself and to discuss interpretations. The potential of the approach is demonstrated by a variety of case studies. Simple experiments on analogue materials deepen the understanding of microstructural processes.


Lectures, seminars, exercises in structural geology

The aim of the lecture is to consolidate and deepen fundamental aspects in structural geology already introduced in the BSc lecture “Grundlagen der Strukturgeologie”. During the two first sessions basic notions are recalled by the instructor. The following sessions are devoted to oral presentations by the students. The topics to be presented are selected by the participants in agreement with a list of scientific papers proposed by the instructor. In addition, the writing of an essay following the oral presentation is required.


Special methods in structural geology I

This specific lecture addresses the theory and application of paleostress inversion methods. In the first part of the course, mechanical aspects of tectonic fracture, theoretical considerations pertaining to stress inversion and, finally, application cases are given. The second part involves series of exercises in order to get acquainted with both physical and geological meanings of paleostress inversion methods.


Special methods in structural geology II

This lecture intends to address different aspects of basin tectonics. After an extensive review of the main characteristics of the different types of sedimentary basins (i.e. stretching, strike-slip and flexural), theoretical aspects on mechanisms driving basin subsidence are given. In particular, emphasis is put on flexure mechanics, isostasy and the thermal regime of the lithosphere. The lecture demands basic knowledge in tectonics/structural geology, geodynamics and geophysics.

Fluid Phases and Fluid Inclusions in Rocks


The lectures review the role of fluid phases in geological processes. The topics are:

  • Fluid phases, definition and fundamental properties
  • Chemical constituents and components of fluid phases in the lithosphere
  • PVT-properties, phase relations, immiscibility
  • Pore space, geometry and length scales, fluid inclusions
  • Fluid flow and transient stages
  • Pore fluid pressure – the crustal perspective
  • Solubility of minerals, kinetics of dissolution and precipitation
  • Fluids in sedimentary basins
  • Fluids in metamorphism
  • Fluids in magmatic systems
  • Fluids in hydrothermal systems
  • Fluids in rock deformation and tectonics

The exercises give an introduction to the analysis of fluid inclusions, with emphasis on microthermometry, complemented by quadrupol mass spectrometry and Fourier-transform-IR- spectrometry. Definition of a problem (which can be solved; most cannot), appropriate sampling, sample preparation, documentation and inclusion petrography are discussed as pre-requisites for analytical work.

Field Course Tectonics


Most problems in geology require the ability to predict structures in three dimensions, based on few surface outcrops and/or highly incomplete information from drill holes. Predicting three-dimensional structures at depth in many cases requires an understanding of their evolution in time. Hence, four-dimensional thinking is important to develop appropriate hypotheses and models. The lectures and a seminary introduce to the problems of prediction of underground structure in various tectonic settings, in particular those relevant for the exploration of natural resources. The exercises address the techniques and strategies in predicting structures from incomplete observations.

Field Course Tectonics


The field course comprises observation, analysis, documentation, and interpretation of geological structures in the field. Demonstration and discussion of specific situations is followed by independent work at similar sites. The field course is held in a region with excellent outcrops and a wide spectrum of structures originated in different tectonic environments. The results are summarized in a detailed and professional report with individual data sets and drawings.

Field Course Magmatism


The field course addresses the record of volcanic or plutonic complexes, in particular the structural relations, rock association, rock properties, petrography and fabrics, and the documentation in diagrams, cross sections, sketch maps. Emphasis is on an objective interpretation of the record in terms of magmatic processes in the geologic past. The field course is held in a region with excellent outcrops and a wide spectrum of processes to be studied. The results are summarized in a detailed and professional report with individual data sets and drawings.

Field trips in Endogenous Geology


Field trips demonstrate the geological relations in a selected region in their entity. The students acquire fundamental experience in observing and interpreting field relations, from outcrop to map scale, and become acquainted with a broad spectrum of geologic phenomena, their significance and interrelations.

Geological Mapping  III


The field course comprises compilation and interpretation of a geological map by independent mapping in an area with a complicated structure and several stages of tectonic history. The resulting map and cross sections are complemented by a detailed and professional report with individual data sets and drawings.

Field course: Structural geology



The field course takes place in Asturias northern Spain, 8 days during late summer. Different locations are visited with the aim of mapping in fine detail the structure and deduce from it the tectonic evolution of the area in terms of strain regimes and relative chronology of the different events. A report including geological maps, detailed cross-sections and a comprehensive synthesis must be delivered shortly after return.