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Geo 381R - Regional Studies in Mineral Resources Geology

This site is designed to provide general information about GEO 381R, a graduate course on Regional Studies in Mineral Resources Geology taught by Richard Kyle, with Jackson School or external colleagues. The course typically is offered during Spring semester of alternative years, or as demand warrants. Although broad-based in scope, the course is modeled after a common practice in the global minerals exploration industry whereby a regional land package is assessed for its known and potential diverse mineral resource potential to guide future activities.   In addition to the compilation and evaluation of the geology of the study area, the key aspect of the course is the opportunity for a major, typically international, field trip to study those key geologic and mineral resource issues. Traditionally the required field trip for GEO 381R has been after Spring Semester (overlapping to varying degrees with the Final Exam period). The course structure and assignments will be designed once the collective field trip plans have been decided, likely during the first week of classes.  Some past offerings of GEO 381R have been allowed to count as a field course for DGS students lacking required field experience, as well as serving as a "supporting work" course. Consideration of GEO 381R to serve in these capacities requires consent of instructor, justification from a student's supervisor, and approval in advance by the Graduate Advisor. The following sections provide some general information on topics of interest to these sorts of trips, as well as a modest archive of past 381R trips to Chile, Peru, the Iberian Peninsula, Western Australia, and the Great Basin. Current plans for the next offering (Spring 2009) is a trip to the Superior Province of the Canadian Shield.

The instructor has had a long-term philosophy about the importance of field experience to complement the traditional classroom educational experience, e.g. the best geologists are those who have seen the most rocks. I have led many student, as well as professional society and company, field trips to examine the geology and mineral resources of various regions. Many of the University of Texas trips have been conducted as part of ore deposits geology courses, but GEO 381R was developed several years ago to attract students with diverse interests who can make contributions on many topics and scales to the geologic and other issues about a region, thus providing the best learning experience for all.

The course is now scheduled for 2 to 5 Monday in JGB 2.202, a schedule that attempts to minimize conflicts with complementary courses. However, if that slot proves to have a conflict with other courses for participants, then we will find another meeting time that will work for all. Furthermore, we will not meet every week. The considerable commitment of time that each of you will make for the field trip component of the course will more than reasonably account for the time commitment for a graduate course. However, in order for the field trip participants to achieve greater benefits, the current plan is that we will have organized meetings early in the term in which the instructor, guest lecturers, and course participants will introduce diverse topics of relevance to the region and resources to be visited, then we will take an extended break from formal meetings during which time class participants will prepare a research paper/field guide to a specific topic or site for the trip. Depending on the interests of the students enrolled, there will be additional lectures and lab exercises designed for those with specific mineral resources geology interests.

The plan for the Spring 2009 GEO 381R offering is being developed at present, but likely will consist of a course focused on the geology and non-energy mineral resources of the Superior Province of the eastern Canadian Shield, that will conclude with a 8 to 12-day field course immediately after classes in mid-May. Detailed field trip plans are being developed, but it is anticipated that the trip will start and end in Toronto, making a clockwise loop through southern Ontario and western Quebec.

Possible variations in trip plans involve integrating the trip with participation in the Geological Association of Canada meeting in Toronto The meeting provides an opportunity to learn of the latest developments in geologic research and minerals exploration. The meeting also affords those with mineral industry career interests to develop the industry contacts that might allow these career interests to be fulfilled. However, the GAC meeting is later than usual (May 24-27, in view of our last class day on May 8), which may cause problems for those with summer commitments. If an organized GAC field trip on a topic of specific interest to a class participant is available, that would be the minimum field course expectation, and/or there would be a modest complementary 381R trip.

The course structure and assignments will be designed once the collective field trip plans have been decided, likely during the first week of classes. The research paper/guide is due before the trip (to allow enough time for review and revisions). The research paper can focus on any mutually acceptable topic of relevance to the geology and mineral resources of the eastern Canadian Shield, e.g. specific ore deposits or types, tectonic and crustal evolution, igneous petrogenesis, volcanology, sedimentary geology, climatic evolution, surficial processes, etc. Possible topics of study in the broad context of Archean-Proterozoic tectonics, magmatism, and mineralization include (i.e. depending on interest, site permission, and logistical realities):

Archean geology early crustal and tectonic evolution, granite-greenstone belts, komatiites, tonalities, shear/suture zones, marine geothermal systems, origin of life, volcanic-hosted massive sulfide deposits, orogenic gold deposits, synvolcanic nickel deposits

Proterozoic geology sedimentary basins, atmospheric evolution, paleoplacer U deposits, glaciogenic sediments, astroblemes, mafic complex-hosted Ni-Cu-PGM deposits, Grenville tectonics & metamorphism

Phanerozoic geology Paleozoic sedimentary successions, Mesozoic rifting, diamond-bearing kimberlite emplacement, Pleistocene glaciation

A section on the Blackboard site will have selected links about eastern Canada geology and ore deposits, as a place to start your research. We will do some lab type exercises to provide additional pre-trip exposure to selected ore deposit types, as everyone will be expected to contribute to the field work portion of the trip. Once the field trip contributions have been critiqued and revised, they will be collected and assembled for distribution as a guidebook for the trip.

The main requirement for a grade in GEO 381R will be enthusiastic participation in the field trip, along with the guidebook report and presentation. Based on preliminary responses I do not anticipate a problem with space availability for interested geological sciences graduate students, but it might be necessary to prioritize the potential attendees because of support and logistical limitations. If so, priority will be give to those with needs related to research projects, career objectives, related experience to offer to the tour group, etc., but hopefully that won't be necessary.

The principal expense for students will be per diem costs on the trip. The DGS Chair has indicated that resources will be available to offset the travel costs.

It is my intention to continue to offer such trips to various destinations. These trips are great opportunities for students, but they require a great deal of time, resources, and organizational effort, and having all participants "pull their weight" task-wise and intellectually is the only way for the trips to continue to be offered. This trip should not be confused with a vacation; it is a field course comprising work obligations under difficult conditions!!! The usual requirements, restrictions, obligations, and disclaimers that apply to field trips for Department of Geological Sciences courses apply.

Consent of instructor is required to take this course.

Past GEO 381R Trips - Chile 1999, Peru 2000, Spain - Portugal 2001, Western Australia 2003

If you have any questions or comments about the course, you may reach me at