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Reconstructing Quaternary Marine Climate and Environments



Course format On-site
Date 2020-08-19 - 2020-11-25
Entry level Bachelor

Course content

The course aims to give an understanding of the causes of natural climate change during the Earth's history. It is focused on the last interglacial-glacial cycle, a period characterised by major and abrupt climate changes. A systematic treatment is given of different geological methods used for reconstructing the marine palaeoenvironment and climate history during the Quaternary. This includes methods and interpretations based on lithological, geochemical and biological data, as well as dating methods and stratigraphical principles. Special attention is given to microfossils and geochemical proxies. The course includes field studies and sampling in the Tromsø area.


Bachelor's degree in geology, or a similar degree following a programme of study of at least three years duration, or similar education approved in accordance with the Norwegian Universities Act section 3-4. In addition, specialization in geology worth the equivalent of at least 80 ECTS credits is required. Normally, an average mark of C or better is required at the bachelor's degree level or other programme for basis of admission. Application code: 9371

Recommended prerequisites

GEO-2003 Quaternary geology

Learning outcomes


The student has

  • knowledge and understanding of the causes of natural climate and oceanographic changes during the Quaternary.
  • knowledge and understanding of the effects of natural climate and oceanographic changes during the last 150,000 years.
  • knowledge of the differences in glacial and interglacial climate and oceanographic states.
  • knowledge of the causes, impact, and rate of abrupt changes in the climate system.
  • knowledge of the cyclicity in the climate system on orbital scale.
  • knowledge of methods in palaeoclimate/-oceanography studies, including 14C dating, and geochemical, elemental, biologic, and physical proxies.
  • knowledge of the present change in climate and oceanography compared to past natural changes.


The student can

  • handle and process samples of a selected marine deep-sea core from the Svalbard margin.
  • perform microscopy for counts and identification of planktic and benthic foraminifera.
  • count and identify ice rafted debris (IRD).
  • handle specific foraminiferal species for stable isotope analyses (18O and 13C).
  • use all data to make comprehensive palaeoclimatic/-oceanographic interpretation and discussion of results and stratigraphic interpretations and correlations.
  • conduct marine fieldwork with a research vessel (e.g., R/V Helmer Hanssen) with retrieval of gravity cores, box-cores, plankton tows, acquisition of seismic and acoustic data and the use of these data for finding good sampling locations.
  • read and understand scientific literature on marine geology.

General competences

The student can

  • carry out the most important elements of geological research projects: penetrating literature, carrying out field research, analyzing data, and communicating results to fellow students/scientists.
  • prepare and initiate a master project in palaeoceanography and palaeoclimate.
  • read and write about scientific results in English.


ISCED Categories

Marine Geology
Physical and chemical oceanography