Isotope Geochemistry and Geochronology

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course aims to allow the student to use stable and radiogenic isotopes to track natural and anthropogenic process in the different earth reservoirs. The course also aims to allow the student to understand and apply the most used techniques for the geochronology of rock and minerals. The activity in the laboratory aims to apply to natural cases the arguments described during the course.
Expected learning outcomes
The student will acquire the basic knowledge to understand the principal isotope systematics used in the geosciences and how they are applied to track planet evolution and the evolution of the environment. The student will also acquire the basic knowledge of radiometric dating and the tools to choose between the different dating techniques as a function of the study case. Particular attention will be given to interpretation and evaluation of radiometric ages.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
The course will be taught online using Microsoft Teams.
Course syllabus
Radiogenic isotopes: 1) Nucleosynthesis, nuclear decay and mass spectrometry. 2) The Rb-Sr and Sm-Nd methods applied to: geochronology (of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks), to earth differentiation processes and to seawater evolution. 3) Pb isotopes: U-Pb dating of U-rich minerals (zircon, monazite rutile); common Pb and crustal evolution; environmental Pb. 4) Isotope geochemistry of oceanic volcanic and continental rocks. 5) Basics on Lu-Hf, Re-Os and Rare-gas methods. 6) K-Ar and Ar-Ar dating.
Stable Isotopes: 1) Terminology, Standards and Mass Spectrometry. 2) Equilibrium Isotope Fractionation. 3) Stable isotopes in the Hydrosphere and Oceans. 4) Biogenic Carbonates: Oxygen. 5) Carbon in the Low-Temperature Environment 6) Nitrogen, Sulfur and Boron. 8) Applications to igneous and metamorphic petrology and Extraterrestrial Materials. 9) Non-traditional stable isotopes
Prerequisites for admission
Teaching methods
The course consists of lectures. Seminars on specific geologic applications are organized. These seminars (ca. 6 hours) target geological topics of broad interest and serve to show how an isotope-based integrated approach can be useful to she lights on complex processes.
Teaching Resources
A.P. Dikin. Radiogenic Isotope Geology, Cambridge University Press.
Sharp, Zachary. "Principles of Stable Isotope Geochemistry, 2nd Edition." (2017).
A selection of relevant publications on specific topics.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The evaluation of the student is tested in two ways. These are: 1) the student select one scientific publication of interest among a list and has two weeks to prepare a presentation to be given in front of the class.; 2) traditional oral exam to test the knowledge acquired during the course.
GEO/08 - GEOCHEMISTRY AND VOLCANOLOGY - University credits: 6
Practicals: 12 hours
Lessons: 40 hours
Professor: Farina Federico