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The University of Southampton

SOES3020 Volcanic and Mantle Processes

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Understand the mechanisms involved in the generation and evolution of Magmas.
  • Ability to examine and interpret volcanic successions in the field.
  • Able to log a volcanic sequence to determine the magmatic evolution and eruption history of a volcano.
  • Appreciate how geochemical and isotopic data are obtained and interpreted.
  • Appreciate the limitations of geochemical and isotopic data.
  • Critically evaluate the processes that generate heterogeneity within the Earth's mantle.
  • Comprehend the principles and limitations of age dating and the interpretations that can be made from age data.
  • Identify different volcanic products and determine from their characteristics the process involved in their formation.
  • Ability to interpret and integrate petrological, elemental and isotopic data.
  • Assess the role of various igneous processes in the development of crustal materials.
  • Construction of a well presented summary of recent research material in a form suitable for poster presentation at a conference.


The Earth's mantle is the reservoir that provides the raw materials for crustal generation. This reservoir has exchanged material with the crust through geological time, leading to the diversity of compositions we observe in volcanism across our planet. In this module we will examine the processes of magma generation, through to the processes which generate volcanic features and deposits. The course will make a detailed investigation into the causes of mantle heterogeneity, the way in which melt is generated in the mantle, and the nature and timing of crustal processes on the magma. Using examples of magmatic systems at mid-ocean ridges, volcanic arcs and mantle hotspots we examine how elemental variations and radiogenic isotopes can throw light on structure, circulation and storage within the mantle. To understand how elemental abundances vary in volcanic systems, models are developed in the practical classes that illustrate the likely processes involved. Volcanoes and volcanic products are examined in the second half of the course. This is centered around a seven-day field course to Tenerife, with lectures focusing on physical volcanology and field studies examining the processes that generate effusive and explosive volcanics. The field work includes exercises examining pyroclastic deposits and the relationship between caldera development and progressive magmatism.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

In Southampton Formal Lectures: will provide the theory underlying the structure, petrology and composition of the Earth's mantle. Outlines of the lectures are provided. Each lecture systematically covers the main concepts. Where relevant, lecturers' own research experience in the appropriate fields is brought into the lecturing sessions. References to applicable book chapters and/or relevant journal articles are provided as essential reading for each lecture. Practical sessions: will exemplify the theory and allow you to develop appropriate practical skills in geochemical and isotopic data analysis and interpretation, and the laboratory techniques available in the study of igneous and metamorphic rocks. In Tenerife Fieldcourse: A seven-day fieldcourse will also exemplify the theory and develop your investigative and interpretative field skills. A wide range of support can be provided for those students who have further or specific learning and teaching needs.

Practical classes and workshops6
Independent Study72
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Assessment 40%
Assessment 60%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules


To study this module, you will need to have studied the following module(s):



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:

Field Trips

Students will be expected to contribute toward the cost of the fieldtrip.

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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