GEOS1111 - Fundamentals of Geology

Where will we find the essential resources to support our ever changing technologies? How does current climate change compare with other stages in Earth’s history? Where can we find groundwater to help support agriculture? How stable is the rock my house is built on? Geology is fundamental to understanding the physical world and answering the endless questions essential for society and industry.

In GEOS1111, you explore the physical world through a geological lens: discover how the Earth has formed and deformed over millions of years; investigate minerals and rocks and the processes by which they form; learn about the variety of mineral and energy resources essential for the future.

Students will develop practical skills through interactive hands-on laboratory classes and fieldwork.

"It was soon after I began collecting stones, i.e., when 9 or 10, that I distinctly recollect the desire I had of being able to know something about every pebble in front of the hall door…”
- Charles Darwin

Term 3

Study level: Undergraduate

6 units of credit

Current handbook entry Current timetable Course outline

Who should I contact?

GEOS1111 Convener contact is Dr Malte Ebach, Email:

The course is jointly taught by:

Martin Van Kranendonk
Bryce Kelly
Ian Graham
David Cohen

What does this course cover?


Atomic structure, crystal structures and bond types; Formation of minerals; Mineral classes; Silica tetrahedral; Structural classification - Chain, sheet and framework silicates; Bond types cf. hardness, cleavage; Fracture, streak and lustre; Colour, specific gravity, density, habit


Definition and uses; Principles of: original horizontality, superposition, lateral continuity, inclusions, baked contacts, cross-cutting relations; Unconformities; Stratigraphic correlation; Theory of natural selection.


Pre-Plate Tectonic Models; Plate Tectonic Model; Plate Boundaries;


Early estimates of geological time; Geological systems and periods; Relative and absolute/numerical time scales; The fossil record; Principles of relative dating; Absolute dating (using radioactive isotopes).


Igneous Rock Bodies; Formation of Rocks from Magma; Classification of Igneous Rocks; The Sequence of Crystallisation; Tectonic Setting of Igneous Activity; Key features; Acidity, Colour & Saturation; Families of volcanic/plutonic rocks.


Causes of Metamorphism; Types of Metamorphism; Metamorphic Reactions and textures; Classification of Metamorphic Rocks; Metamorphic Zones and Facies; Metamorphism and Plate Tectonics.


Nature of the outcrop; Characteristic landforms (Sedimentary versus igneous rocks); Drainage patterns; Contrasting landforms; Igneous rocks & structures; From outcrop to interpretation map; Using structure contours; Rock units and maps.


There are lectures and practical examination of economic minerals and ore deposits. Lectures report on the history of mining, the processes during development of an ore body and description of some types of ore bodies and their setting. There are lectures on the economics driving mineral exploration, on exploration methods, exploration in NSW and the environment. 

  1. Economic mineral resources and their history;
  2. Mineral exploration techniques;
  3. Ore deposits – VMS, Diamonds, Porphyry Cu-Au-Mo, Hydrothermal & Skarn, Placer Au & Sn, and Banded Iron Formations.

Where does this course fit into my degree?

This is a first year course. GEOS1111 is essential for any students within Earth Science major/specialisation.

Are there any pre- or co-requisites for this course?

There are no pre-requisites for this course. Students may wish to take GEOS1701 and BIOS1101 concurrently with this course.

Are there mandatory activities for this course?

There is a one-day compulsory fieldtrip. It runs on the weekend, normally around weeks 7-9. Students will need sturdy footwear. Cost is ~$30. 

Lab attendance is mandatory.

Students need to acquire a hand lens, a magnet and a pocket knife prior to Week 2.

I took this course some time ago and need proof of what was covered.

2011 Course Outline

2012 Course Outline

2013 Course Outline

2015 Course Outline

2016 Course Outline

NB: All information provided on this page is superseded by information provided by the course coordinator or lecturer(s).