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Deep Earth Systems: Forging links between petrology and geophysics

Name of course: Deep Earth Systems: Forging links between petrology and geophysics

 ECTS credits: 5

 Course parameters:
Language: English
Level of course: PhD course
Time of year: Q4, 3-14 October 2016
No. of contact hours: 50
No. hours in total incl. preparation, assignment(s) or the like: 140
Capacity limits: 20 participants

 Objectives of the course:
To strengthen geoscience students’ background in thermodynamics, phase equilibria, heat and mass transfer, continuum mechanics, elasticity and viscoelastic theory, wave propagation, and rheology, important for integrating petrologic and geophysical (especially seismological) observations, and modeling processes of the deep earth. The course will build the necessary foundation of understanding, based on first-principles and case studies, linking the constitution of Earth materials to their stability and mechanical behavior, and the consequences for mantle dynamics and evolution.

 Learning outcomes and competences:
At the end of the course, the student should be able to:

  • understand and use basic principles of thermodynamics as applied to deep Earth systems;
  • understand and use basic principles of continuum mechanics and wave theory as utilized in studies of deep Earth systems;
  • demonstrate competency in their understanding of these principles by problem solving, both individually and in working groups;c
  • critically evaluate extant literature through independent reading and group discussion, and leadership-directed group discussion;
  • critically evaluate and verify existing models, and stratigize independent tests or alternatives;
  • develop collaborative skills working in group settings on common problems;
  • increase competency in verbal and written communication through oral presentations and a final group project report.

 Compulsory programme:
Participants are required to actively participate, to complete exercises, present orally and to write reports summarizing each research group’s work.

 Course contents:
Preparatory reading will be assigned two weeks before the course begins.  The first week in residence will involve lectures, practical exercises, tutorials and group seminars. The second week will be devoted entirely to group projects under the guidance of 1-2 faculty members, culminating in a mini-symposium reporting the results of the research.  Progress reports and morning briefings will be held each morning of the second week to help direct and focus the day’s research activities. Final reports will be turned in on the final day of the course following short presentations by each research group. 

At least three years of study in geoscience or closely related field, and currently enrolled in an accredited Ph.D. program in petrology, geochemistry and/or geophysics.  Students currently pursuing M.S. level research in one or more of these fields may also be considered. It is expected that student have completed at least one university level course in mathematics, physics and chemistry.

 Name of lecturer[s]:
Course leaders: Prof. Charles Lesher and Assoc. Prof. Niels Balling.
Lectures and tutorials will be given by Aarhus instructors and international guest researchers.

 Type of course/teaching methods:
Lectures, practical exercises, tutorials and group seminars, group projects under the guidance of 1-2 faculty members, culminating in a mini-symposium.


  • Readings will be drawn from primary scientific literature as assigned.
  • Reference textbook:
    Douce, A. P., Thermodynamics of the Earth and Planets, Cambridge University Press, 3rd Edition, 2011
    White, W., Geochemistry, Wiley-Blackwell, 1st Edition, 2013.
    Turcotte, D. L., and G. Schubert, Geodynamics, Cambridge University Press, 3rd Edition, 2014.
    Stein, S. and M. Wysession,  An Introduction to Seismology, Earthquakes, and Earth Structure, Blackwell Publishing, 2002.   

 Course homepage:

 Course assessment:
Credit for the course will be based on class participation, including exercises, oral presentations and written reports produced by each research group. 

Department of Geoscience

 Special comments on this course:
3 to 14 October; Monday to Friday 9.00 – 17.00
Place: Department of Geoscience, Aarhus University.

Deadline for application is 26 August 2016.
Information regarding admission will be sent out no later than 9 September 2016.

 Application: Complete the form on the course website (full name, home institution, graduate level and a brief statement (≤ 200 words) describing how this Ph.D. course can/will benefit your gradaute education and research).

If you have any questions, please contact Lara O’Dwyer Brown, email: odwyerbrown”at”

Comments on content: 
Revised 05.11.2018