Tectonic and Volcanic Processes

This course provides a theoretical and practical understanding, extensively informed by research being carried out in Birmingham and elsewhere, of the latest understanding of the processes of plate motion, continental extension and break-up, plate-boundary deformation, mantle melting, magma transport from mantle to crust, and magma emplacement within the crust.  These processes are illustrated with case studies based on current research of tectonics and/or magmatic processes from mid-ocean ridges, subduction zones, continental margins and sedimentary basins, providing you with experience of active research methods. Emphasis is placed on the latest developments in joint interpretation of geophysical, geochemical and modelling datasets and in the understanding of the limitations of these data. Processes underpinning volcanism and controlling eruption styles are investigated through current methods based on physical and petrological interpretation of volcanic products.

By the end of the module you will be able to:

  • Frame climate change
  • Detail the key steps in the evolution of plate tectonic theory from continental drift through to the rigorous current framework
  • Understand the key tectonic, magmatic and volcanic processes occurring at plate margins, from rifting to breakup to seafloor spreading to subduction initiation to fully-fledged subduction with arc volcanism
  • Apply appropriate techniques to the analysis of geological, petrological, geophysical and volcanological data
  • Understand how tectonic, magmatic and volcanological processes are linked in the framework of plate tectonics.


  • Exam
  • Practical exercises