Earth and Marine Sciences (EMAS)

  • Duration: 3 years Logo UCA Càdiz
  • Admission: academic qualifications and interview
  • Coordinator: prof. Massimo Coltorti
  • Head office: international agreement with Università di Ferrara and Universidad de Cádiz (España)
  • Department: Fisica e Scienze della Terra
  • Study abroad: 3 months
  • Educational purpose: the EMAS Programme is aiming at providing high qualified scientific competences in Earth and Marine Sciences: mineralogy, petrology, geochemistry, paleontology, stratigraphy and sedimentology, structural geology, applied geology and hydrogeology, geomorphology, physical oceanography, coastal dynamics, marine geology, economic geology and geophysics. These disciplines will also constitute integrative knowledge for Science and Technology for the Nature and Environment, Chemistry, Physics, Technology for Preservation and Restoring of Cultural Heritage, Engineering, Architecture and Agronomy.
    The researche topics of the EMAS Programme will be mainly addressed to mineral crystallochemistry; magma genesis; environmental geochemistry; stratigraphy and its applications to hydrocarbon and acquifers geology; the palaeobiology of marine ecosystems in relation to climatic and palaeogeographic changes; rock mechanics and tectonic deformations; earthquake geology; slope stability, river and coastal dynamics; geophysical methods applied to evaluation of seismic site effects;  physical oceanography and marine geology.
    All these topics are also aimed at evaluating the natural and anthropogenically induced hazards (e.g. landslides, floods, coastal erosion, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsnumani and environmental emergencies).
    The EMAS Programme provides a well-defined cultural background in the above topics that nowadays are relevant for both basic and applied researches.
  • Curriculum: no
  • Educational plan. The PhD Course will be organized as follow:
    1) Specific courses focussed on the argument of the research developed by the PhD student;
    2) Courses shared with the Laurea Magistrale in order to complete the formation of the PhD student taking into account his/her CV, i.e. the kind of degree he/she has acquired;
    3) Specific seminars in the host department or in other Italian or foreigner universities or research centers;
    4) Advanced school organized by society or research groups in Italy or abroad;
    5) Stages in other Italian or foreigner department or research centers that are already collaborating with the teachers of the PhD School. During this period the PhD student will have the opportunity to acquire the most appropriate and technologically advanced analytical tecniques as well as to deepen the scientific background of his/her PhD thesis.
    The evaluation of the scientific level acquired by the PhD student will be performed annually by the College of Doctorate School in a formal meeting expected before the end of November. In this meeting the PhD student will deliver an oral presentation accompanied by a written document on the scientific activity and the results obtained during the year. This relation is considered an integral part of the memorandum of the meeting and allow to monitor the scientific level acquired by each single PhD student in relation to the foreseen objectives.
    Moreover at the end of each year the PhD student will compile a formal note with all the activities developed during the year. The College of the Doctorate School will evaluate both the quality and the congruence of the developed activities and will address the student for the following year. Based on the oral presentation, the written relation and the note on the list of activities the College of the Doctorate School will decide on the admission of the student to the next year, indicating, if necessary, the gaps to be filled in order to complete the scientific profile.
  • Research topics:
    1. Applied Geology and Geomorphology. The research line “Applied Geology and Geomorphology” is addressed to improve the knowledge of the dynamic phenomena occurring on the Earth’ surface due to climatic changes, at global and local scale, and to the effects of the progressive, heavy, anthropogenic activities. Correlated researches include analysis of slope stability, hydrogeological models, fluvial dynamics and climate forecasting in order to provide a better planning and management of the use of the territory, reducing the impact and the risk levels. The used tools are geological and geomorphological fieldwork and mapping, interpretation of aerial photos and satellite images, geographic information systems (GIS), field experimental activities, numerical modeling and laboratory analyses.
    2.
    Coastal dynamics and management. This line covers those geological and oceanographical aspects most directly applied to the coastal processes and their consequences to the human activity. It includes fields such as the recent evolution and present trends of the coastline, coastal erosion processes and natural hazards on the coast, quantification and modelling of coastal erosion, transport and sedimentation processes, due to wave and wind action, environmental mapping of littoral zones, coastal defense works, coastal pollution modelling, and in general, coastal planning and risk and impact assessment of a wide range of human activities in the coastal zone, such as tourism, offshore drilling, offshore aquaculture, etc. An outstanding aspect of this line is that related to the analysis of socio-political strategies for a correct coastal management, by combining data from littoral dynamics with the activities and aims of the social agents responsible for the use of coastal resources. A further aspect is the reconstruction of past historical storminess and the prediction of future scenarios induced by climate change. Coastal dynamics also plays a key role for the conservation and management of the underwater cultural heritage.
    3.
    Environmental geochemistry. This thematic will use the most innovative and technologically advanced techniques for the analyses of major, trace elements and isotopes in rocks, sediments, soils, water and air to be used as indicators of environmental changes. This research line provide a robust, basic knowledge to evaluate the impact on the environment caused by human activities, such as organic and inorganic civil, industrial, agricultural and zootechnical wastes for detecting and studying the properties of pollutants in marine and continental environment. Through a detailed analysis of soils and water, it also furnish a tool to trace the provenance of plants and food, providing an useful tool against the mystification of highly renewed aliments. It develops innovative studies i) on the answer of the plants at different chemical composition of the soil; ii) to the effects of natural and anthropogenic GHG (Green House Gases) emission on climate and their outcomes on hazards of natural phenomena; iii) the study of metal pollution and distribution in soils and sediments, also in relation to abandoned and active mining areas; iv) geochemical prospecting for the exploitation of mineral raw materials and for the production of thematic maps; v) geochemical study of air particulate and fluid emissions and vi) geochemical study for the identification of the geoterritoriality and for preservation of brand products.
    4.
    Geodesy and Geophysics. This line includes the application of geodetic and geophysical techniques to the study of the global marine environment and dynamics: high resolution models for the definition of the geoid, sea level determination through the use of remote sensing techniques, remote assessment of polar zones, etc. More specific lines are the geophysical analysis and modelling of marine and continental natural hazards, especially in the case of active volcanism: geothermometry, geomagnetism, high resolution seismics, gravimetry, modelling of active tectonic and volcanic processes.
    5.
    Marine Geology, Stratigraphy and Sedimentology. This research line includes different geological aspects related to the modern marine environments and its fossil counterparts, with a main emphasis on sedimentology, stratigraphy, geodynamics and geological structures. It covers fields like the structure of continental margins and their tectonic and sedimentary evolution during the Mesozoic, Cainozoic, and with special attention to Quaternary times. The research mainly refers to the evolution of Mesozoic and Cenozoic carbonate platforms in circum Mediterranean area: Triassic of Dolomites; Jurassic, Cretaceous and Tertiary in northern and southern Italy, Spain and Caribbean area; Tertiary of south Alpine and Salento. Other stratigraphic studies include the Mesozoic depositional successions of North and East Africa. Recently, new research line are activated on the fluvio-deltaic and alluvional plain  successions  of the Po Plain and Adriatic area. This line is based on the use of different sources of data: bathymetric surveys using single beam, multibeam and side scan sonar (bathymetry, seabed nature and features), geophysics (seismic profiling) and drilling, through the combination of which valuable information is obtained about the structure of the marine substratum and about palaeoceanographic processes which acted in the recent past and are currently acting on the sea-bed. In more shallow zones diving and sediment sampling is also used, together with other techniques which give data on the present processes acting on the sea floor. This line also includes several applied aspects like the identification of hydrocarbon indicators in continental margins, recent and present tectonic and volcanic activity in marine environments, or the recognition and mapping of seabed and benthic geohabitats of European interest, as well as the safety of offshore structures (oil rigs and pipelines).
    6.
    Mineralogy and Crystal chemistry. This research line covers the applications of modern mineralogy and mineral crystallography to both fundamental and applied studies. Among these studies, the crystallochemical investigation of rock-forming minerals has many important petrological and geophysical implications. Crystal-structure analysis at non-ambient conditions provides a window to the Earth interiors and processes. Applied mineralogy topics include: i) the investigation of a wide range of geomaterials and their likes (asbestos, ceramics, geopolymers, cements, matrices for nuclear waste, materials for energy efficiency of buildings, etc); ii) the development of microporous materials, based on minerals and their synthetic analogs, for energy harvesting and storage, and for treatment and recovery of water resources; iii) the conservation studies of cultural and environmental heritage; iv) the study of processes involved in industrial  production (e.g. in heterogeneous catalysis); v) the characterization of gems and similar materials. It also covers the analysis of specific mineralogical species as palaeoenvironmental indicators in recent, Quaternary and historical sedimentary records, mainly in lacustrine and marine sequences, where sedimentary continuity is usually higher and mineralogical processes occurring inside these water bodies are sensitive to climatic changes and/or to human interventions in the basins connected to them. This line also includes the interest of some minerals as technological basis for the carbon capture and storage and their role in the possible mitigation of the present global warming.
    7.
    Paleontology and Paleoecology. This research line is addressed to develop studies on the knowledge of the evolution of Phanerozoic marine ecosystems by analysing the biodiversity of the palaeocommunities and their relationships with the global climate and geographic changes. Research themes focus on global events during the end-Permian mass extinction, the most severe extinction in the Phanerozoic, which changed the evolutionary trajectories of many marine invertebrates, and on the Triassic biotic recovery. The analysed taxonomic groups are mainly molluscs and brachiopods. Another research theme regards the adaptive radiations of larger bivalves characterised by unusual shells, which represent secondary adaptation to soft substrates. This research aims to assess the functional, microstructural and synecological aspects of these larger bivalves and related benthic communities. The Cretaceous and Cenozoic are time intervals extremely dynamic as far as evolutionary and climatic global changes are concerned with several extreme warming greenhouse episodes. The research on taxonomic and abundance changes in planktonic foraminiferal assemblages, which have an important role in carbonate production along with geochemical analyses, aims to reconstruct the palaeoceanographic changes during the main climatic variations and to assess the possible influence to the evolution. The palaeoenvironmental analysis of Cenozoic carbonate and mixed siliciclastic-carbonate sedimentary successions aims to provide palaeoecological modelizations of larger foraminiferal and calcareous algal assemblages. These studies regard taxonomy of the dominant benthic components, related ichnocoenoses and palaeobiogeography. In order to decipher the complex benthic assemblages and related environmental constrains, present-day coralline red algal communities.
    8.
    Petrology and applied petrography. Thanks to the use of the most innovative an technologically advanced instruments for the whole rock and in situ analyses of elements and isotopes, this research line is dedicated to develop basic and applied studies on: a) magma genesis and evolution also in relation to volcanism and volcanic hazard; b) Earth mantle petrological, geochemical and geophysical characteristics; c) magma sources and petrological processes related to the various geodynamic environments; d) Classification and description of the main georesources (ore mining , metals, ornamental stones, ceramic products, industrial minerals, etc…),  and their physico-chemical characterizations; e) petrographic and geochemical characterization of geological material of industrial interest; f) Petroarcheometry addressed to the historical and preservative study of lithoid materials and stones and degradation assessments; g) ore deposits and their origin, environmental impact of resource exploitation and use, ore and industrial minerals.
    9.
    Physical Oceanography. This line includes different topics related to the physics of the oceans and their role in the global and coastal marine environment: currents, tides, waves, stratification, mixing processes, ocean-atmosphere interaction, ocean climate, ocean biogeochemistry and the hydrodynamics of bays, estuaries and straits. Especially relevant is the application of remote sensing and numerical modelling techniques to the oceanographic studies and their relationship to the natural marine environment. This research line include also the investigation of the role of internal waves and internal tides in creating some sedimentary structures (hummocky cross stratification, sand waves) and for the development and architecture of benthic communities, such as coral reefs and red algae, both in modern and fossil environments. Operational oceanography systems can be developed/upgraded as a tool providing marine data information and operative support to other research lines.
    10.
    Tectonics and Geophysics. This thematic develops either basic and applied research focusing on both past and mainly present crustal stress fields and the associated deformation structures and tectonic features. Investigations are primarily based on field work and laboratory activities applying several geophysical methods (seismic, electric, electromagnetic, gravimetric), as well as modelling. Among the principal research topics are i) the study of different seismogenic sources and their seismotectonic characterization, ii) 3D reconstructions, carried out according to the needs and the specific goals, from the meters to the kilometers scale, iii) the characterization of the subsoil physical parameters for site effects estimation and ground water quality evaluation, iv) unravelling the temporal evolution of the stress and strain fields in crustal volumes, v) evaluation of the seismic hazard for risk mitigation. This line of research will mainly use a multidisciplinary approach based on, among others, morphotectonics, palaeoseismology, several applied geophysics techniques, remote sensing, geological and structural mapping.