Faculty of Science

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This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2016 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

Monash University

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment


Dr Fabio Capitanio



  • Second semester 2016 (Day)


This unit covers the planetary scale structure and dynamics of the Earth, and the fundamental processes which create 'geology' as a natural consequence of Earth evolution. The unit will provide an understanding of the subtle interplay between Earth structure, planetary cooling, geomagnetism, mantle convection, plate tectonics, continental drift, heat flow, earthquakes, melt generation etc, and the diverse measurements/ models needed to gain this understanding including seismicity, seismic tomography, gravity, changing sea level, post-glacial rebound etc. It will concentrate on an integrated, quantitative, model-based approach to the geosciences.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Describe how the cooling of the Earth leads to internal convection;

  1. Describe how a mobile surface and horizontal stresses arise from convective motion;

  1. Visualise plate tectonics as an emergent phenomenon;

  1. Describe the basic principles of plate tectonic reconstruction;

  1. Describe how plate tectonics influences the rotation of the Earth and can change the global climate;

  1. Identify from surface observations how the tectonic stresses are balanced in different geological settings;

  1. Interpret maps of global gravity, stress, earthquake distribution, topography / bathymetry and the underlying mantle structure through seismic tomography.


Practicals: 20%
Assignment: 20%
Examination (3 hours): 60%

Students must pass the theory examination to achieve an overall pass grade. Students who do not pass the theory examination will receive a mark of 45% unless their aggregate mark is lower, in which case that mark will be recorded.

Workload requirements

Two 1-hour lectures and one 3-hour practical per week

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


12 credit points at level two in ESC, PHS or MTH units