cod. 23630

Academic year 2019/20
1° year of course - Second semester
Academic discipline
Geochimica e vulcanologia (GEO/08)
Discipline di scienze della terra
Type of training activity
62 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

The course aims to provide students with information on recent developments in geochemistry and in particular the isotopic understood as a cognitive tool in the interdisciplinary field of Earth Sciences as well as provide the necessary information for the application of geochemical and isotopic techniques in research and management of natural resources.
At the end of the course the student will have acquired the basic elements of knowledge and will be able to recognize the conditions under which the application of isotopic-geochemical techniques can be effective and make judgments about the potential and the limits of application of the methodology in a given natural context related to environmental sciences.


no prerequisite

Course unit content

The training is divided into:
basic lessons aiming at the establishment of a simplified theoretical framework of reference on topics such as the environmental geochemistry with the ecological implications of geochemical cycles and the human impact on these cycles, pollution of natural waters and soil; the isotope geochemistry, with the study of different ratios that isotopes can have in the composition of dissolved salts, in the water, in the organic matter;
□ in applicative lessons focused on the presentation and discussion of case studies in which the isotopic-geochemical methods have been successfully applied to problems related to environmental sciences;
□ in laboratory lessons to introduce the student with the practical problems associated with obtaining analytical measurements

Full programme

Elements of chemical thermodynamics
Concentration, activity, chemical reaction, degree of progress of a reaction, free energy, chemical potential, equilibrium constant
Oxidation-reduction of environmental interest
General, redox reactions, redox potential (Eh),
Eh-pH diagrams: nitrogen species, sulfur, carbon, chlorine
Stable solid phases in the field Eh-pH: goethite, magnetite
Oxidation of the sulfides
Introduction to Geochemistry of Stable Isotopes
What are the isotopes
Atomic relative abundance of stable isotopes used
investigated elements
The unit "δ"
standard for oxygen and hydrogen
of carbon for the reference standard
Reference standards for nitrogen
Reference standards for sulfur
for standards conversion formula
key features of the standard
The mass spectrometer
Notations in use for reporting the isotopic values
The isotopic fractionation
The isotopic equilibrium
The kinetic fractionation
Preparation of different types of sample for isotopic analysis:
water; carbonates and apatite; the organic material, the silicate minerals
Equipment connected to the mass spectrometer for isotopic analysis
Water and isotopes
The isotopic water cycle
isotopic composition of natural waters
The water-steam fractionation, water-ice
Relationship between the isotopic composition of oxygen and hydrogen in the rain: the world straight in precipitation
Relationship between isotopic composition and salinity of the water
Evaporation of ocean to different degrees of atmospheric humidity
deuterium excess
The condensation of ocean steam:
The evaporation of surface land waters
Rainfall: relationship between the isotopic composition and the average temperature on the ground; the latitude effect, affection altitude; the continentality effect; the seasonality effect; the effect amount; the rain gauges
Groundwater: the study isotope of aquifers; charging in temperate zones; mitigation of isotopic variations with depth; Examples of ground water
The rivers
Isotopic characterization of water in the province of Parma
Isotopic Characterization of the ice and climatic implications
The species carbonate dissolved in water
Isotopic composition of carbon in natural waters
Dissolving carbon dioxide in water and DIC
isotope effects on carbon distribution
Carbon isotope fractionation between carbon dioxide, DIC and calcite
Evolution of the isotopic composition of DIC and proceed to the dissolution of calcite
The change in isotopic composition of atmospheric CO2
Methane: isotopic fractionation DIC-methane
Methane influence in the precipitation of carbonates
The nitrogenous species dissolved in water
The nitrogen biogeochemical processes and the nitrogen isotope fractionation
nitrogen fractionation along the food chain
Relationship between isotopic composition of nitrogen and oxygen in nitrates
Nitrate contamination in surface waters
The study of the isotopic composition of nitrogen in food and Applications
isotope exchange between water and minerals
high temperature systems: development of water values
Geothermal water, vapor separation
low temperature systems: evolution of water values
Hydration of the silicate minerals in clay minerals
Brines from crystalline basements
Brines from sedimentary formations
The water-gas exchange
Brines of Salsomaggiore
Laboratory exercises
Using the mass spectrometer, the CHN, TCEA, automatic preparator of water, Gas-Bench for the oxygen isotopic analysis, carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen. Pre treatment of solid samples.


Principles of Isotope Geology-Faure G. ; John Wiley and Sons
Environmental Isotopes in Hydrology -Clark I. e Fritz P.; Lewis Publisher
Geochimica e Ambiente-Dongarrà G. e Varrica D.; EdiSES
Acque, minerali ed ambiente-Venturelli G.; Pitagora
Lecture notes
Powerpoint presentation of the lessons

Teaching methods

The course will be divided into: basic lessons aiming at the establishment of a simplified theoretical framework and in applicative lessons focused on the presentation and discussion of case studies. In addition, the course will be integrated with a number of hours of support activity, mainly in the laboratory, on the isotope measurement techniques, on the main problems related to the calibration of the isotope measurements and the calculation of the elemental percentage and the isotope values versus an international standard. Some of the exercises will be individual and practices in order to enable the student to carry out independently a particular analytical procedure outlined in theoretical form during the lessons.

Assessment methods and criteria

The ability to use independently, to integrate and to disclose their knowledge, is assessed towards the end of the course, through seminars held by individual students to their classmates with final debate. The workshop is prepared by the student through the use of bibliographic material provided by the teacher and presented by a computer program. The language used should be that of a scientific communication also aimed at non-specialist counterparts.
The acquisition of knowledge is assessed through an oral examination supplemented by the resolution of an analytical problem in writing.
With the seminar 15 points are acquired, the oral examination is divided into 3 questions from 4 to 6 points depending on the difficulty, the written exercise is worth 2 points. Praise is acquired with a score greater than or equal to 33.

Other information