GEOL10030 Field Geology, Level 1

Academic Year 2024/2025

This is an intensive, mainly field-based and residential, course, which will take place mainly in one week within the Spring Break covering the following topics: Topographic and geological maps, basic principles of navigation; plate tectonics and the geological history of Ireland; sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic processes; Irish mineral, hydrocarbon and coal resources; Geology and landscape features; building materials and quarrying.

Show/hide contentOpenClose All

Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should be able to:
1. Read and interpret topographic and geological maps.
2. Visualize the geological structure in three dimensions.
3. Use a field notebook to keep an accurate record of field observations and measurements.
4. Recognize and identify selected rock types and minerals and understand their mode of formation, economic importance and practical application.
5. Understand selected aspects of the geological history of Ireland.
6. Understand the evolution of the Irish landscape.
7. Understand how to construcy a geological map

Indicative Module Content:

Lecture 1: Introduction and logisitics.
Location of the field area; safety and adequate field clothing; topics to be covered on the class; methods of assessment; collection of personal and health data; distribution of safety information.

Lecture 2: Geological Maps and grid references.
Different styles of geological map; concepts of geological time and stratigraphy; geological timescale; lithology and stratigraphy on maps. Grid references; map scales and precision. How treasure hunts can go wrong. Practical map exercise on Geological Survey maps of eastern and northern Ireland designed to locate places relevant to the class and to answer specific questions about the geology and to encourage the use of grid references and an awareness of scale.

Lecture 3: Geological History of Ireland I.
Plate tectonics for 3200 million years, supercontinents, rifting and orogeny. The oldest (c. 1790 million years) rocks in Ireland. The formation and break-up of the Rodinia Supercontinent (from 1 billion years ago) and the evidence in Ireland. Stratigraphy as a record of environmental change and crustal evolution. Neoproterozoic glaciation. The opening and closing of Iapetus – the Grampian Orogeny and the suturing of “Ireland” during oblique Caledonian collision. Magmatism and heat after orogeny – how we can explain granites.

Lecture 4: Geological History of Ireland II.
Devonian palaeogeography, palaeobiology and climate; evidence for changing sea level – the Carboniferous flood; Carboniferous coals and base metal ores. Variscan orogeny and the assembly of the Pangea Supercontinent. Triassic deserts and the Corrib Gasfield. Jurassic sea level, abortive rifting and hydrocarbons. Cretaceous climate and sea level. Early Cenozoic mantle plume and rifting. Quaternary glaciation. The tectonic (and climatic) future.

Lecture 5: Description and interpretation of rocks in the field (part 1).
Introduction to the common rock-forming minerals and their identification. Mineral identification. Rocks as mineral aggregates. The rock cycle. Types of igneous rocks; their recognition and formation. Types of igneous rock bodies.

Lecture 6: Description and interpretation of rocks in the field (part 2).
Observation and interpretation of sedimentary rocks in the field. Interpretation of paleo-environments from the grain size and texture of sedimentary rocks. Modes of sediment transport and deposition. Sediment provenance. Introduction to metamorphic processes.

Lecture 7: Fieldtrip preparation and the compass clinometer.
Final preparation for the fieldtrip to Antrim. Maps, projections and magnets. Magnetic declination and navigation. Dip and strike and how to measure them. Indoor mapping and measuring (practical) exercise with the compass clinometer.

The field class is a full 5 days fieldwork. The class is conducted as a residential field trip along the north coast of Antrim in Northern Ireland. The itinerary will be:-
Day 1: Portraine.
Day 2: Portrush.
Day 3: Ballycastle North Star Bay.
Day 4: Giants Causeway and Ballintoy Harbour
Day 5: Cushendall.

NOTE: While the fieldtrip is heavily subsidized by the school, there is a cost associated with the trip of 150 euros to help cover accommodation and coach hire.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Seminar (or Webinar)


Field Trip/External Visits


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Introduction in the field to geological techniques and principles, supplemented by evening seminars, will be the principal methods for teaching and learning. A series of lectures and exercises before the field work will provide basic background knowledge and skills for the field work. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
GEOL20140 - Negotiated Field Geology 1, GEOL30300 - Negotiated Field Geology 2, GEOL30310 - Negotiated Field Geology 3

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment(Including Essay): An exercise introducing students to geological maps. n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Practical Skills Assessment: Geological field maps n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Portfolio: Field notebook recording daily observations and insights. n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Quizzes/Short Exercises: 3 short tests. Two in Antrim (2x10%) and one after the trip (20%) n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Carry forward of passed components
Remediation Type Remediation Timing
Repeat (CFP) Within Three Semesters
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Students will receive individual oral feedback in the field and in evening seminars after each day in the field, the latter supplemented by oral feedback to the whole class.

Name Role
Dr Conrad Childs Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Assoc Professor Claire Harnett Lecturer / Co-Lecturer