Mineralogy of Earth and Planets and analytical methods

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course aims to provide students mineralogical topics useful for acquiring in-depth and modern knowledge of the origin, distribution and evolution of minerals in terrestrial and planetary environments.
The main minerals of Earth and Planets will be described. Main topics concern the study of rock-forming minerals in magmatic, metamorphic and sedimentary context and ore minerals. A specific topic is about clay minerals, relevant both for their scientific role as the interface between inorganic and organic environment, and for the importance in the geotechnical and applied fields. The operative procedures of the main mineralogical analytical techniques will be elaborated, in particular the X-ray diffraction
Expected learning outcomes
Students will acquire a critical approach in the evaluation and use of minerals as indicators of current and past environmental conditions, as important economic resources and as indicators of the superficial and internal dynamics of the planets. Students will learn the main operating procedures of the mineralogical analytical instruments and data analysis protocols. These techniques will be applied to selected case studies of scientific and applicative interest.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
Course syllabus
Introduction: man and minerals. History of mineralogy. From applied mineralogy in the copper age to scientific extraterrestrial exploration mining projects. Minerals in space and meteorites; relevance of "extraterrestrial" mineralogical studies for the understanding of the mineralogical and chemical composition of the Earth.
Minerals in the magmatic process. Rock-forming minerals. Concentration of minor elements in magmatic minerals. Concentration of radioactive elements and radioactive minerals in magmatic rocks. Notes on natural radioactivity.
Hydrothermal minerals. Hydrothermal alteration in the ocean floor. Serpentinization and associated minerals. Minerals of hydrothermal origin of economic interest. Sulphides and oxides as important structures in materials science.
Minerals in the metamorphic process. High-pressure minerals. Mineralogical model of Earth and Planets.
Minerals in the sedimentary process. Clay minerals. Evaporitic minerals.
Instrumental analytical techniques: X-ray diffractometry. Qualitative analysis based on X-ray powder diffraction. Diffrattometric identification of clay minerals. Chemical and diffractometric characterization of minerals. Interpretation of complex chemical microprobe analyses. Mineralogical databases, phase identification, data processing and interpretation. Experimental mineralogy techniques and mineral synthesis: procedures and examples. Macroscopic and microscopic observation of mineral and meteorite samples
Prerequisites for admission
Knowledge of chemistry, mineralogy, petrography and geology acquired in the first and second year courses
Teaching methods
The course includes 6 credits (48 hours) of lessons. Lessons are held both in traditional classroom mode (lectures) and in interactive mode in laboratories or classroom / online with multimedia material and virtual connections with experimental laboratories
Teaching Resources
Wenk and Bulakh. Minerals. Their constitution and Origin. Cambridge ed.
Hazen. Breve storia della Terra. Il saggiatore Ed.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Synthetic written / online test on all the main topics of the course; oral test focusing in particular on a specific topic
GEO/06 - MINERALOGY - University credits: 6
Lessons: 48 hours