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The University of Southampton

SOES1002 Dynamic Earth

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To develop an understanding of stratigraphic techniques, relating time and rocks. To examine the origins and results of the forces acting within the Earth at the scale of tectonic plates. To relate tectonics to the development and evolution of sedimentary basins. To develop an enhanced understanding of sedimentary sequences and geological structures through the analysis of geological maps. To provide a grounding in skills related to preparing for a field mapping programme. To develop a basic understanding of GIS and its application to Earth science and the use of ArcGIS software.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Understand the concepts of stratigraphic subdivision based on rock types, fossil content, time, or time-rock units.
  • A basic ability to determine the 3D structure and evolution of a region from a geological map, aided by the use of remotely sensed images.
  • A basic knowledge of GIS and of use of ArcGIS computer software to analyse and interpret geographic and geological data
  • Appreciate how the major morphological features of the Earth can be accounted for in terms of the plate tectonic model.
  • Comprehend the tectonic situations governing the development and evolution of particular types of sedimentary basins.
  • Understand the importance of tectonics and basin analysis in the creation of mineral and energy resources.
  • Establish the basic structure, and the geological history, of a region from its geological map.
  • An appreciation of different stratigraphic techniques and how they can be applied to a variety of geological situations.
  • An understanding of the plate tectonic origins of forces within the Earth and the structures they create.
  • A recognition of the importance of physical setting to the nature and development of sedimentary basins.
  • A joined-up understanding of plate tectonic influences and stratigraphic applications in basin analysis and the search for energy/mineral resources.


Stratigraphy, plate tectonics and basin formation are intimately related topics which form a fundamental basis of knowledge for all earth scientists. By understanding the wide range of stratigraphic techniques that are used to provide contexts for all geological investigations, you will be introduced to the evolution and application of plate tectonic theory and how it has major implications for the understanding of a variety of geological situations, notably the development and nature of sedimentary basins. Practical work, aided by remote sensing and GIS techniques, will involve the systematic interpretation of geological maps as a means of understanding the geological history of a region and exercises of geological and geographical interpretation using GIS computer software.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Formal lectures: will provide an introduction to stratigraphic concepts (how to read the rocks, time-rock relationships, relative and absolute dating), the plate tectonic paradigm (e.g. earthquakes, plate boundaries, spreading oceans, continental collision); and dynamic basins (tectonic settings of basin formation, basin morphology, sedimentary characteristics). Numerical exercises based on various aspects of the theories discussed will be introduced. This information will be synthesised at the end of the course, where these themes will be set in the context of understanding the distribution of energy and mineral resources, mountain belts, etc. Practical classes: practical sessions aim to show how the dynamic Earth can be represented on geological maps, and allow you to develop techniques of geological map interpretation through a thorough understanding of how three-dimensional geological features are represented in two dimensions, and provide you with an introduction to the use of ArcGIS during a series of computer practicals Attendance at practical classes is essential as they provide the theoretical and conceptual basis for not only the summative assessments, but also 2nd, 3rd and 4th year modules. A wide range of support can be provided for those students who have further or specific learning and teaching needs.

Independent Study90
Practical classes and workshops36
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Practical examination 50%
Theory examination  (2 hours) 50%

Linked modules



Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


There are no additional costs associated with this module.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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