Geological evolution of a habitable planet

A.Y. 2019/2020
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The goal of the course is to study the geological evolution of the Earth from its formation to the present day and define the chemical and physical conditions that have enabled the development of multicellular (complex) life on Earth.
Expected learning outcomes
Knowledge of principles of advanced geology. Ability to analyze natural geological systems in their complexity and interconnection.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
Course syllabus
The course focuses on the description of the evolution of the chemical-physical parameters that have determined the development of life on our planet, in particular we consider:
1) the evolution of the Earth system over the first 500 million years since the beginning of the chondritic aggregation.
2) How the Earth system is able to maintain water in a liquid state from the Late Heavy Bombardment to the present day: the carbon cycle, CO2 input and output fluxes, and the Earth's natural thermostat;
3) extreme climates: Snowball Earth and Ice-free Earth;
4) the mechanisms that allowed the accumulation of gaseous oxygen in the atmosphere: the Great Oxydation Event and the Neoproterozoic Oxydation Event;
5) the structure of the Earth's magnetic field and its effect of shielding the atmosphere from the aggressive action of the solar wind;
6) finally, the role of catastrophism in biological evolution is examined, with particular reference to mass extinction at the Cretaceous / Paleogene and Permian / Triassic boundaries.
Prerequisites for admission
A basic knowledge of geology is required
Teaching methods
The didactic method of the lectures is the classic unidirectional method of knowledge transfer from teacher to student. However, students are often activated through the involvement in debates triggered by requests of clarifications of topics addressed during the course or other topical issues in the scientific spotlight. Heuristic-participatory methods are also applied such as the flipped classroom through the creation of working groups with student-student lectures.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The final test takes one of the following forms: 1) exclusively for students who have attended at least 90% of the lectures, there is the possibility of taking the final exam by presenting a written report (research). The written report, in Italian or English, must concern one of the topics treated during the course (insegnamento), and must be the result of the analytical-deductive synthesis of knowledge learned both during the course and from the critical reading of at least 3 scientific articles of choice that have not been treated during the course, to be downloaded through the University of Milan official search engines and databases. 2) for those who have not attended at least 90% of the lectures, and for those who did so but prefer a final exam in the classic form, a written test with questions related to the content of the course will be offered.
Lessons: 48 hours
Professor: Muttoni Giovanni