autumn 2020
GEO-3111 Reconstructing Quaternary Marine Climate and Environments - 10 ECTS

Last changed 31.12.2020

Application deadline

Single course applicants from Nordic countries: 1st June for the fall semester.

Applicants from outside the Nordic countries: 15th April for the fall semester.

Type of course

This course is available as a single course.

Admission requirements

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.

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.

Recommended prerequisites

GEO-2003 Quaternary geology

Objectives of the course


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.

Language of instruction and examination


Teaching methods

30 hours of lectures, 50 of hours exercises, and a cruise. The duration of the cruise varies between years and is normally 1-4 days long.


4 hours written exam that counts 100 % of the final grade.

Grading scale: Letter grades A-F, where F is fail. Admittance to the exam requires approved course work and field/cruise report. A re-sit exam will not be arranged for this course.

Compulsory learning activities

Approval of training in health, safety, and environment prior to the cruise. This follows the UiT routines for cruises and will be provided by the crew onboard the research vessel. Participation in the cruise is mandatory.

  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 10
  • Course code: GEO-3111