Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology


Provides advanced study of igneous and metamorphic rocks following on from delivery of the Petrology, Volcanology and Geochemistry/Dynamic Solid Earth modules in Year 1. This module focuses on how the use of petrology, geochemistry and geochronology can investigate the petrogenesis of common igneous and metamorphic rock types and suites in all tectonic environments. 

The module consists of several overall themes: 

  1. Use of phase petrology and the phase rule to investigate magmatic evolution. Thermodynamics, solid solution, the lever rule and binary, ternary and quaternary phase diagrams are used to explain common igneous processes, for example, partial melting, crystallisation, absorption, zoning, immiscibility and exsolution.
  2. Understanding of physical mantle melting processes followed by the integration of petrological theory and mathematical expressions to define different partial melting processes from mass balance considerations.
  3. Review of magma chamber processes followed by the integration of petrology and mass balance expressions to investigate all of the differentiation processes that occur when a magma body ascends and is stored in the crust.
  4. Major and trace elements and radiogenic isotope systematics are used extensively to demonstrate how geochemistry can be used to investigate all magmatic processes alongside phase petrology.
  5. Investigating the formation of economic deposits from magmatic and metamorphic processes, which feeds into content within the optional Level M/H Ore deposits and Gemmology module (03 27944/03 27945).
  6. Review of metamorphic zones, facies and protoliths: developing understanding of how the mineralogy of metamorphic rocks corresponds to P-T conditions and protolith composition.
  7. The application of geochemistry in studying metamorphic processes is explored, focusing on phase equilibria, thermodynamics and the link between metamorphism and geochronology.

These themes will be delivered via 20 lectures, as well as follow-on practicals. Each practical will involve both a period where advisors are available for teaching and assistance as well as several hours of self-study, during which students will have time to complete set exercises independently.


  • Examination
  • Report