Planetary Chemistry

University of Cambridge | Oliver Shorttle

Lent IA: the Easter vacation

Map exercise: Complete the map from the 2018 practical paper (section 4).

A structured way to revise the course is by identifying the IA tripos questions that relate to the Michaelmas and Lent term of the material (which you can access through Moodle), and use these to motivate going back to your notes and to textbooks to find relevant information. You should be using this book-research to furnish your answers with more quantitative detail and, especially, specific real-world examples of the processes you are describing.

To help with this I have selected five essay questions that you should produce answers for of maximum two handwritten pages (the year in brackets indicates the tripos paper they are from):

[2018 – paleobiology] Outline the major patterns in animal biodiversity during the Phanerozoic. To what extent are geological events responsible for these patterns?

[2016 – sedimentology] What are the main types of sedimentary delta, and what are the physical parameters that control delta morphology and internal structure? How do you recognize a deltaic sequence preserved in the geological record?

[2020 – igneous petrology] The vast majority of volcanic activity on Earth occurs at mid-ocean ridges. Explain why this is so. Why are almost all magmas that are erupted at ridges basaltic in composition, whereas magmas erupted elsewhere show a much wider compositional range?

[2021 – geophysics] It has been observed that seafloor depth in the ocean basins increases systematically with crustal age.
a) Explain the nature and origin of this relationship.
b) To what extent does this relationship hold for plates older than ~70 million years? Explain your answer.
c) Using specific examples, explain how mid-ocean ridge spreading rate (i) affects ocean basin bathymetry today; and (ii) may have caused eustatic sea level change in the past.

[2021 – mineralogy] By contrasting a pyroxene and a mica, explain how and why a) birefringence, b) cleavage, and c) colour in plane-polarized light are related to the orientation of the crystal in a thin section under a petrological microscope.

— Submit work one week before our first supervision of Easter Term —

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