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MSc Geoscience for Sustainable Energy / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

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Course unit details:
Fluids and Minerals in Subsurface Energy Systems

Unit code EART60682
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

Fluids (including gas) are central to the how energy is stored and produced in the subsurface.  Over geological timescales, fluids will react with minerals and rocks to generate porosity, and also to recrystallize sediments and re-precipitate minerals.  The chemistry of fluids, their temperature and pressure exert a fundamental control on rock composition and rock physical properties, which can be altered by the offtake or injection of fluids on anthropogenic timescales.  This unit will introduce the types of fluids encountered in sedimentary basins and their circulation mechanisms. It will evaluate their chemistry and use hydrological principles to interpret likely flow and reaction pathways.  This unit will include a 5 day field trip to the south of England to discuss the role of sedimentary fluids in the production of geothermal heat, water supply and subsurface energy production and storage.

Aims

The first part of this unit will be delivered using asynchronous, pre-recorded lectures in preparation for weekly synchronous activities. Synchronous activities will include practice exercises, demonstrations, quizzes and Q&A. 

The second part of the unit will be a 5 day field course in SW England, which will provide training in geological data collection, fluid flow prediction and development of subsurface energy systems.  In-field exercises and demonstrations will be supported by Q&A/discussions and evening activities.

Learning outcomes

On the successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

Developed

Assessed

ILO 1

Predict the occurrence of different types of subsurface fluids based on knowledge of basin tectonics, depth and lithology and identify fluids based on chemical properties

X

X

ILO2

Use the principles of hydrogeology to describe how groundwater flows in sedimentary basins

X

X

ILO 3

Describe deep fluid circulation mechanisms and pathways, based on knowledge of basin architecture, heat flow, pressure and time

X

X

ILO 4

Conceptually model fluid-mineral-rock reactions based on rock texture, mineralogy, porosity, permeability and fluid composition

X

X

ILO 5

Predict changes in fluid composition and reactivity due to mixing, cooling, dissolution and precipitation

X

X

ILO 6

Collect geological data relevant to subsurface resource constraint, including sedimentary logging, fracture logging and geological correlation / mapping

X

X

ILO 7

Manage offtake and injection of subsurface fluids in an environmentally and professionally responsible manner

X

X

ILO 8

Write a well-structured, illustrated field report and relate geological observations to subsurface resource development

X

X

Syllabus

Lectures and practicals:

Week 1: Types of fluids in sedimentary basins and their composition (salinity, trace element and heavy metals, NORMS), including methods for determining modern and palaeo-water chemistry

Week 2: Fluid circulation mechanisms: diffusion, advection, gravity, convection and tectonic controls on fluid flow

Week 2: Principles of fluid geochemistry, reactivity of fluids, controls on mineral precipitation and dissolution

Week 4: Fundamentals of fluid-mineral-rock reactions: important fluid-rock reactions in sedimentary strata, rates of reaction, reaction fronts

Week 5: Diagenetic and low temperature processes in sedimentary basins

Week 6: Fieldtrip introduction and overview

 

Fieldwork

Day 1:  Drive to Dorset. Stop en route at Mercia Mudstone in Somerset to discuss seals

Day 2: Structural characterisation: faulting, fracturing and trapping (Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove); introduction to PESTLE and sustainable subsurface geoscience using Wytch Farm

Day 2: Sandbody architecture, aquifers and aquicludes, the importance of scale (Bridport Sandstone, Ladram Bay)

Day 3: Drive to Truro.  Stop en route to examine granite batholiths/china clay pits, discuss heat flux and fluid-rock reactions in igneous basement

Day 4: Visit Cornish Lithium and United Downs

Day 5: Karstic hydrology of Mendips

Day 6: Return to Manchester

Teaching and learning methods

This module will be delivered as 5 sessions with up to 2 hours asynchronous lecture material and pre-read material, prior to weekly 2 hour synchronous teaching, focused on problem solving and data analysis, supplemented by self-study (background reading, quizzes, revision)

Assessment methods

Assessment type

% Weighting within unit

Hand out and hand in dates

Length

 

How, when and what feedback is provided

ILO tested

Field report

50

tbc

tbc

Discussion of solution in class and posted on Blackboard

All

End of unit examination

50

End Semester 2

1.5 hours

Marked scripts

1-7

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Catherine Hollis Unit coordinator

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