Geology and lithology

Degree course: 
Academic year when starting the degree: 
Academic year in which the course will be held: 
Course type: 
Compulsory subjects, characteristic of the class
Second semester
Standard lectures hours: 
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (56 hours), Exercise (68 hours), Laboratory (32 hours)

No prerequisite is foreseen.

Final Examination: 

Topographic profile and drainage basin on 1:25000 IGM Topographic map of Italy + report of the 4 field trips + analysis of a rock sample + oral exam

Voto Finale

The course aims to provide an introduction to Earth Sciences, and to the use of geological data for environmental management. In particular, focus will be on i) the identification of the proper time-windows needed for assessing the role played by geological factors and forces in shaping the local landscape, and ii) the variability of the processes that characterize the physical environment. Through the analysis of the traces that they leave in the stratigraphy and topography, at the end of the course the student will be able to reconstruct the essential features of the paleoenvironmental history of a territory, and on this basis to define the evolutionary trends of the controlling natural processes.

Methodological and conceptual approach. The Shape of the Earth and the representation of the landscape. Earth and Planetary sciences. Radiative budget. Rotation and revolution. Milankovitch cycles and climatic changes. Origin and nature of the forms of the landscape. Surficial effects of water, wind, ice, weathering, volcanism, tectonics and human activities. Physical geography, geomorphology and landscape analysis; the anthropogenic component of the Holocene morphogenesis. Geomorphology and archeology. Fundamentals of stratigraphy and dating methods for the study of the Holocene.
The materials of the Geosphere: minerals and rocks. The minerals: properties, methods of study and classification. Rocks: physical properties mineralogical and chemical composition, classification. Lithological cycle. Sedimentary rocks: processes and environments, textures and structures, components, types and classifications, compaction and diagenesis. Igneous rocks, intrusive and volcanic magmatic processes, structures and their geological significance, composition, types and classification. Metamorphic rocks: metamorphic processes and their geological significance, composition, types and classification. Laboratory and field experience of rock recognition, with particular reference to their geo-mechanical characteristics. Geological resources, economic value of rocks and natural fluids, availability, mining and use.
Geometry and stratimetry rocks. Three-dimensional reconstruction of rock bodies: definition and measurement of their geometrical and structural parameters, methods of representation. Geological Time and stratigraphy. The age of the Earth: methods of absolute and relative measurement of Geological Time. The basic principles of stratigraphy: relations between rock bodies and inference on their temporal succession, types of stratigraphic units. Sedimentary environments and facies. Law of correlation of facies (Walther Rule). The scales of geological time and their use. Outline of geological structure of the Italian territory.
The deformations of the rocks and the seismicity. Notes on the dynamics of the Earth Crust: continental and oceanic crust, plate tectonics, ocean ridges, continental drift, Benioff plane and subduction. Elementary tectonic structures: fractures, foliation, faults and folds. The association of primary tectonic structures. The tectonic style of a region. Vertical movements of the ground surface. Active tectonics. Structural geology and earthquakes, magnitude, macroseismic intensity; shallow and deep seismicity, coseismic environmental effects and their relations with the local tectonic environment, paleoseismicity. Surface faulting, relations between magnitude, intensity, surface rupture length and surface displacement ; geological criteria for the evaluation of seismic activity.
Introduction to hydrogeology. The hydrological basin. Permeability and hydraulic gradient. Ground water and artesian water table, piezometric surface. Environmental Geology. Variability and scale factors in the natural processes. The role of Geology in environmental protection. Hazard, Vulnerability, Risk. The characterization of the environmental component of natural hazards. Siting: geological criteria for the realization of a critical facilities; methodological implications, with examples of study of sites for nuclear installations. Stratigraphic and geomorphological indicators for the reconstructing the paleoenvironmental evolution of an area, and defining trends of the ongoing physical processes. Geology and Land Use planning. Geology and climate change, the so-called "global warming." Geology and energy sources.

John P. Grotzinger, Thomas H. Jordan, Capire la Terra, Terza edizione italiana condotta sulla settima edizione americana, Libro multimediale, cod. ISBN 978-8808-82123-2 , pag. 752 , Zanichelli.
Guida del Parco delle Gole della Breggia
Dispense disponibili sul sito
Dispense su e-learning

Laboratory of Cartography and Lithology. This part of the course includes the reading and interpretation of topographic maps; the execution of topographic profiles and the delimitation of the drainage basin on IGM topo maps at scale 1: 25000; understanding geological maps papers and performing geological profiles; learning in the lab and on the ground of elementary notions for the recognition of minerals, rocks, and field mapping of geological formations, with particular reference to recent deposits and soils; the learning of elementary notions for the measurement of the strike and dip of geological planes (bedding, faults) with a compass, and for the detection of the sedimentary and tectonic structures present in a rock.
Cartography Laboratory, 16 hours at "Aula Cartografia - Anello", Via Valleggio 11, Como.
Field trip at Brunate (4 hours excluded transfer), Breggia Gorges Park (4 hours excluded transfer), Gravedona (24 hours excluded transfer, overnight) and Rifugio Ventina (24 hours excluded transfer, overnight).

I am available for meeting students on Wednesady, 11:00 at my Room in via Valleggio 11, Environmental Labs, Anello; please confirm via email.