Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module GEOL3357: Tectonic Processes and Renewable Geo-resources

Department: Earth Sciences

GEOL3357: Tectonic Processes and Renewable Geo-resources

Type Open Level 3 Credits 10 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • GEOL2011 Structural Geology and Tectonics


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To train students in scientific research methods, critical thinking, communication and evaluation, by adopting a research-led teaching approach.
  • To understand how tectonic and structural processes (e.g., fracturing, faulting, seismicity) affect the sustainable and safe exploitation of renewable geo-resources alternative to fossil fuels (e.g., geothermal energy, hydrogen storage, carbon capture storage).


  • Principles of rock, fault and earthquake mechanics.
  • Deformation experiments and estimating the rocks physical and mechanical parameters.
  • Mechanics and deformation mechanisms of active fault zones: creeping vs. seismic faults.
  • Fault zones and crustal fluid flow.
  • Operational concepts of geothermal energy, hydrogen storage and carbon capture storage systems.
  • Reservoir property uncertainties and sustainability of renewable geo-energy systems.
  • Induced seismicity and safety of renewable geo-energy systems.
  • Research frontiers – student-directed analysis and discussion of renewable energy case studies (e.g., induced earthquakes) in the context of current research.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • To understand how rock fracturing and faulting control the evolution of the physical properties and fluid flow in geologic reservoirs.
  • To understand how fault zone structure, deformation processes and fluid flow control induced seismicity during fluid injection in geologic reservoirs.
  • To understand how reservoir property and tectonic processes affect the sustainable and safe exploitation of renewable geo-resources.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills necessary to plan, conduct and report on laboratory projects.
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills in order to apply geological principles and methodologies to the solution of familiar and unfamiliar problems.
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills to synthesise information/data from a variety of sources.
  • Will have acquired intellectual and practical skills to analyse, evaluate/interpret geological and geophysical data.
Key Skills:
  • Critical analysis, research capability: Receive and respond to a variety of information sources.
  • Practical competency: Prepare, process, interpret and present data using appropriate qualitative and quantitative techniques and packages.
  • Independent learning, numeracy, IT skills, information skills, literacy.
  • Initiative and drive, innovation and creativity, problem solving.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The module is delivered through one term of one hour-lectures and two-hour practicals, supported by handouts, directed reading and web-based materials.
  • The practical sessions form an important component of the module allowing hands-on learning and experience of solving graphical- and numerical-based problems, which help re-enforcing the application of key concepts introduced during lectures.
  • The assessment will require students to solve 1 practical exercise question requiring the solving of graphical and numerical-based problems, similar to those dealt with during the practical sessions. Students will be required to answer 1 question from a set of questions based on the topics covered during the lectures, requiring an essay type answer. The class test is non open book.
  • Formative assessment is provided in practical tests with feedback.
  • Guidance on preparation, key and exam skills are provided.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 10 Weekly 1 Hour 10
Practicals 10 Weekly 2 Hours 20
Reading and study of class hand-outs, preparation for and execution of formative and summative assessments, background reading both directed and independent. 70
Total 100

Summative Assessment

Component: Test Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Class Test 2 Hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

Feedback will be given on all practical activities and advice will be given on assessment technique

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University