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Academic year
Didactic period
Secondo Semestre

Training objectives

To understand the main analytical techniques used to carry out chemical analyses of major and trace elements in solids and solutions.
To understand the chemical-mineralogical evolution occurring during the weathering processes, and the relationships between primary minerals and secondary minerals.
To understand the relationships between rock weathering and geochemistry of soils natural waters.
To understand the concepts of background (geochemical baseline) and geochemical anomalies, that can be
natural and anthropogenic.
To understand the factors that constraint the elemental mobility in the pedosphere and in the hydrosphere.
To familiarize with approaches of study involving of the use of geochemical tracers to understand the origin and genesis of natural soils and waters.
To understand the principles of isotope geochemistry, and of the related analytical instruments.
In synthesis the course intends to develop ability to utilize geochemical data in fields concerning the prospection of georesources and ore deposits, as well as the environmental monitoring and assesment.


Basic knowledge of chemistry, mineralogy and geology

Course programme

Description of the main analytical techniques commonly used to analyse major and trace elements, as well as isotopes, in soils and waters, with particular emphasis to the instruments available in the laboratories of the Department of Physics and Earth Sciences (12 lessons of two hours).
Investigation of the evolution of the primary parageneses of magmatic-metamorphic rocks during the weathering processes, with the formation of new “secondary” phases.
Description of the relationships between rock weathering and the composition of natural soils and water (6 lessons of two hours).
Investigation of real study-cases with the characterization of natural and anthropogenic geochemical anomalies (6 lessons of two hours).
Basic knowledge on the use of isotopic tracers to understand the origin of soils water; basic knowledge on the use of the same tracers to evaluate the presence of contamination processes.

Didactic methods

Conventional teaching mode with oral lessons, computer exercitations (data elaboration) and visits to the laboratories.

Learning assessment procedures

The evaluation includes two tests that are done during the teaching period and one oral examination at the end of the course.
The tests (two hours each)consist in calculation exercises that have to be done with the computer using the excel program, in order to elaborate geochemical analyses of natural waters. The purpose is to obtain the ionic balance, the classification and mixing simulations.
In the oral examination (ca 30 minutes), the student has to present a scientific article (preliminary investigated during the course) dealing with environmental geochemistry issues. Questions will be devoted to evaluate the level of understanding obtained by the student.
The final mark consists on the average of the marks obtained in the tests and that obtained in the oral examination.

Reference texts

The study will be facilitated by on-line material (in pdf format) reported in the Lecturer web site. This material includes the slides discussed and explained during the lessons.
Further books suggested to obtain more detailed information are:
- Principles and Applications of Geochemistry, FAURE G.
- Environmental and low temperature geochemistry, RYAN P.