Salta ai contenuti. | Salta alla navigazione

Strumenti personali


Academic year and teacher
If you can't find the course description that you're looking for in the above list, please see the following instructions >>
Versione italiana
Academic year
Didactic period
Secondo Semestre

Training objectives

The knowledge of past climatic events is crucial in the light of the current climatic variations. Oceanic sediments record climatic changes through several biotic and abiotic proxies.

This course analyse the proxies applied for paleoclimatic and paleoceanographic reconstructions. The relationships among these subjects and the other stratigraphic fields in the Earth Sciences are other major topics.

The main educational goal is to provide the ability needed to apply the acquired theoretical concepts to practical exercises. Fossil groups utilized are mainly foraminifera. Paleoclimatic and paleoceanographic reconstructions will be based on significant case histories.

The main knowledge gained will be:

• Knowledge of methods for paleoclimatic analysis and paleoceanographic reconstructions.
• Awareness of the relationship with stable isotopes stratigraphy biostratigraphy and paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic reconstructions.
• Comprehension of problems related to stratigraphic correlations.
• Comprehension that integrated analyses are needed in stratigraphy and paleoecological/paleoclimatic reconstructions.
• Knowledge of advantages and limits of adopted proxies.
• Awareness of the need of integrated approaches of the various stratigraphic disciplines and of paleoclimatic and paleoceanographic analyses to achieve reliable interpretation of past changes.

The main abilities to apply knowledge acquired will be:
• To recognize the proxies adopted for paleoclimatic and paleoceanographic reconstructions.
• To identify the best proxies to be finalized for paleoclimatic and paleoceanographic reconstructions in different cases and time intervals.
• To refer marked lithological and biotic changes to paleocenographic and/or paleoclimatic global events.
• To interpret variations in fossil assemblages, with main references to foraminifera, in paleoecological view, in particular paleoceanographic-paleoclimatic interpretation, in relation with trophic, oxygen and temperature state of the water column.
• To interpret biotic changes in relation to the variations of the main stable isotopes, such as d18O and d13C.
• To evaluate problems and possible solving in paleoclimatology and paleoceanography through the expertise deriving from practical studies of significant stratigraphic intervals (Cretaceous, Cenozoic), and to acquire the ability for identifying problems and solutions through other stratigraphic intervals as well.


It is important that the student had acquired basic knowledge on Paleontology and Geology. In order to be able to correctly execute the laboratory activities based on microfossil groups, the student should have attended the Course of Micropaleontology.

The student should be aware on safety regulations for attending classrooms, laboratories and field trips.

Course programme

The course includes 60 hours of teaching and is organized in lectures (20 h) and practical trainings (40 h).

Lessons include the main methods adopted for paleoclimatic and paleocenoraphic reconstructions (20 h).

The course includes laboratory activities aimed to highlight the practical aspects and applications of the paleoclimatology and paleoceanography and their relationships with the other stratigraphycal and Earth Sciences disciplines. These aspects will be better focalized firstly through practical examples (10 h) and then through microscope analysis of samples coming from oceanic successions (30). Students are therefore able to identify the fossils (generally foraminifera) and directly apply the paleoclimatic and paleoceanographic analysis. Stratigraphic intervals are selected across significant paleoclimatic and paleocenographic global events. Some examples come from the Cretaceous oceanic anoxic events (OAEs) and climatic variations during the Paleogene. Student can verify the local response of such events on the available stratigraphic sections through the paleoenvironmental reconstructions. The student is therefore able to perform a complete study of a stratigraphic section, from the geological and lithostratigafical framework.

Each student makes his own observations for biostratigraphy and palaeoenvironmental reconstructions on individually assigned microscope exercises.

Subjects treated are:

Definition of main paleoceanographic and paleoclimatic proxies
Archives for paleoceanographic and paleoclimatic reconstructions
Problems on calibration of the proxies
Proxies classification
Paleoclimatic and paleoceanographic biotic proxies
Paleoclimatic and paleoceanographic geological-geochemical proxies
Characteristics of oceanic sediments
Main characteristics of the oceans

Overview on the subjects on which are based the laboratory activities on paleoclimatology and plaeoceanography.

Didactic methods

The course includes the following phases:

Lectures on the topics of the course program. During lessons students are expected to be involved in continuous interactions aimed to link the new knowledge with the acquired geological-paleontological concepts. Students are requested to do a presentation on in-depth examination on subjects treated in the course.
Practical activities on pre-configurated ad hoc case-studies that students, individually or in group, have to complete.
Individual laboratory activity with constant teacher’s supervision: observation at the optical microscope to detect the biotic changes across the studied stratigraphic interval analysed aimed to the paleoclimatic and paleoceanographic reconstructions.

Continuous teacher’s guidance on problem solving during the laboratory activities and conclusions on the analyses performed.

Learning assessment procedures

An ongoing examination in oral form is required. It consists in a presentation of an in-depth analysis of one of the topics treated in the course. Evaluation is qualitative. The individual presentation is mandatory and can be postponed at the final examination.

The final examination consists in the oral discussion of a powerpoint presentation or of a written report on the studied case-history and it includes questions on the themes treated in the course.

Reference texts

Files and notes provided by the teacher.

Books and scientific publications will be provided by the teacher according to the case-studies treated in the course.