Arctic Tectonics and Volcanism

This course addresses the diverse geological history of the Arctic region, including both onshore and offshore regions from Paleozoic to recent times.

Academic content:

This course will focus on the interplay of plate tectonics and volcanism (including, arc, rifting and plume-related) and explore some of the outstanding region-by-region case studies/questions within the Arctic research community. Based in the gateway to the Arctic, Svalbard, the course will be complemented by field excursions examining the well exposed outcrops and specifically the igneous rocks emplaced over large parts of the Svalbard archipelago.

Learning outcomes:

The course will present the circum-Arctic region in a 4D perspective: the present day structure of this region from surface to deep mantle and how it evolved since the Paleozoic. Students will get an overview of the large-scale kinematics and geodynamics of the Arctic region in space and time. They will learn how to combine onshore and offshore data to uncover the present-day tectonic structure of the region and use it, together with other knowledge, for plate tectonic reconstructions. The students will learn about causes and manifestation of volcanism in the circum-Arctic region. The course includes field trips to observe present day preservation of past Arctic magmatism.

Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • understand the physical, chemical and structural characteristics of volcanic provinces
  • be able to understand plate tectonics principles
  • be aware of the links between surface and deep mantle, methods and models using seismology and satellite data
  • understand the causal connections between tectonic evolution and episodic bursts of volcanism, as well as the impacts volcanism can have on the global climate.

Upon completing the course, the students should:

  • know how to identify first-order tectonic provinces from geophysical and geological data
  • be able to make a first order interpretation of geophysical, geochemical and geological data connected to magmatic provinces
  • be able to make plate tectonic reconstructions using modern software
  • be able to interpret mantle tomography models and integrate them in large-scale tectonic interpretation
  • be able to identify and characterize igneous rocks in the field
  • be able to discuss how igneous plumbing systems may affect subsurface fluid migration

General competences
Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • gain first-hand experience of actively working both individually and in small groups
  • learn how to effectively and safely undertake fieldwork in Arctic conditions
  • improve the presentation skills by presenting their work to their peers and creatively tackling the set problems
  • communicate their research findings through an article-style report

Learning activities:

The course extends over ca. 5 weeks including compulsory safety training, and is run in combination with AG-851.

  • Overview lectures and exercises at UNIS prior to fieldwork.
  • Up to 5 days of fieldwork at relevant localities, mostly as day trips from Longyearbyen.
  • Group work at UNIS to work up both pre-existing, provided and freshly acquired data into a research-based project.
  • Presentation to the rest of the group.
  • Written report summarizing main results in a geology-style article form, to be delivered 1 week after the course ends.

Total lecture hours: 16 hours
Total seminar hours: 16 hours
Total lab hours: 32 hours
Excursions: Up to 5 days

Compulsory learning activities:

Excursions / field work.
All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to be registered for the final assessment.


Method Percentage of final grade
Oral presentation of small research project 20%
Written report in article form 80%

All assessments must be passed in order to pass the course.

Each assessment is graded, and subsequently combined into a single grade. Partial grades for each assessment will be available.

Application deadline: 15 April 2022

Course details

Academic level(s)Master,PhD
Language of instruction
InstitutionUniversity Centre in Svalbard
Begin date26.09.2022
End date28.10.2022
Registration deadline15.04.2022
ECTS credits10.0
Field schoolYes
Fields of studyBasic/broad, general programmesEnvironmental scienceEarth science
Teaching placeSvalbard, Norway
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