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GAP3052 - Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology

Meltwater stream at the terminus of Russell
Glacier in southwestern Greenland. The glacial
meltwater is laden with sediment derived from
the underlying gneiss.

Field camp on a point bar of the Porcupine
River in northern Yukon, Canada. The steep
bluff of late Cenozoic sediment contains
evidence for Pliocene forests, extinct
Quaternary megafauna, permafrost dynamics,
and large glacial lakes

Course Content

Lectures on geological records of landscape change, and associated earth-system impacts, over the last ~3 million years. We will tackle a diverse range of topics in Quaternary geology, with a focus on mid-to-high latitudes and glaciated regions. Specific topics will include: historical background on the discovery of the ice ages; geological and modeling approaches to reconstructing past ice sheets; biogeochemical cycles on Quaternary timescales; abrupt climate change; Quaternary history of the UK; interglacial climates; interaction between climate and tectonics; Quaternary geoscience in resource exploration. A field trip will examine the Quaternary stratigraphy and sedimentology of a local exposure.

Learning Outcomes

On completing this module students should be able to:

  • Synthesize and summarize information on Quaternary environmental change from a range of academic sources
  • Manipulate, interpret and present geochemical data relevant to Quaternary geology
  • Communicate complex geoscience concepts to an informed but non-specialist audience


Dr Alberto Reyes


Subject-specific skills

Knowledge of common geochemical and stratigraphic tools for reconstructing Quaternary environmental change; appreciation of earth-system feedbacks that amplify or attenuate climate change; knowledge of the Quaternary history of the northern hemisphere and, in particular, the UK.

Key skills

Written communication; synthesis of field, laboratory, and literature data; use of data analysis and presentation software; public communication of scientific concepts.



Supplementary Notes

Students who are unfamiliar with the concepts covered in GAP 1007, 2001, 3002, 3051, should expect to undertake self-directed outside readings while completing this module.


 Short Essay
 Poster or presentation
 Two practical assignments