EAE3342 - Environmental cycles on our living planet - 2019

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

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Andrew Frierdich


Dr Andrew Frierdich

Unit guides



  • Second semester 2019 (On-campus)


One of ATS2774, EAE2322, ESC2122 or by permission of unit coordinator


ESC3190 and;

Permission by the unit coordinator is required for students in S6002 who are undertaking the Environmental Security (Science) specialisation.


The biochemical cycling of elemental nutrients controls earth's climate, the health of ecosystems and the sustainability of human societies. This unit explores how environmental cycling of the elements (1) shapes the nature of earth's surface (2) sustains our living planet and (3) may be managed to solve environmental and industrial challenges. Topics including earth's major nutrient cycles, anthropogenic cycling of commodity elements, and the influence of mineral-microbe interactions on environmental cycles will be covered in detail and applied to pressing, real world problems in contaminant mitigation and sustainable stewardship of natural systems.


On completion of this unit, student should be able to:

  1. Understand the processes that underpin earth's major nutrient (ie. C, N, P and S) cycles.
  2. Comprehend the importance of metal cycling in the earth system.
  3. Understand the roles of microorganisms and minerals in environmental cycles.
  4. Understand how anthropogenic influence on environment cycles can either cause pollution or be used to remediate it.
  5. Use geochemical tracer methods to identify sources and sinks for elements in natural and contaminated systems.
  6. Analyse and interpret geochemical datasets from natural and contaminated environments.


NOTE: From 1 July 2019, the duration of all exams is changing to combine reading and writing time. The new exam duration for this unit is 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Assessed practical exercises: 40%

Field trip assessment: 10%

Examination (2 hours): 50% (Hurdle)

Hurdle requirement: Passing the exam with a grade of greater than or equal to 50% is a hurdle requirement for this unit.

Workload requirements

  • 2 hours of lectures and 3 hour practical per week
  • 1 day field trip

See also Unit timetable information