Course Description

Course Name

Minerals and Rocks

Session: VDNS3122

Hours & Credits

18 Credit Points

Prerequisites & Language Level

GEOL 112 or GEOX 112

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


Mineralogy, element distribution in rocks, x-ray techniques, silicate crystal structures, mineral and rock compositions. Crystal optics and mineral identification using the petrographic microscope. Introductory petrography, petrology and classification of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks.

This paper introduces the physical and chemical principles that control the crystallisation of minerals. A practical and theoretical background to mineral optics, essential to identifying minerals, is provided using petrographic microscopes. Mineralogical knowledge is then applied to the classification of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. This is a compulsory course for all students intending to major in Geology at Otago, and is also a prerequisite to several of the optional 200-300 level papers.

Course Structure
Lectures cover five themes:
-Three weeks on crystallography
-Two weeks on optical microscopy
-Two weeks on sedimentary rocks
-Two weeks on igneous rocks
-Two weeks on metamorphic rocks

Learning Outcomes
-Ability to identify a variety of common minerals and rocks in hand specimen
-Basic understanding of crystallography and its relationship to optical mineralogy
-Use of transmitted polarised light microscope to identify minerals and rocks in hand specimen
-Basic understanding of mineral- and rock-forming processes


*Course content subject to change