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Marine Geology

Course Code: GEOL 2201
Faculty: Science & Technology
Credits: 4.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture, Lab
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

The oceans cover some 70% of the earth’s surface and have an enormous impact on the climatic, physical and biological character of the planet. The character and history of development of the ocean basins will be discussed in terms of topics such as ocean sediments, circulation patterns, topography, coastal processes and marine pollution. Occasional weekend field trip may be required.

Course Content


  1. The Hydrosphere
  2. Origin of the Oceans
  3. Early Exploration of the Oceans

Structure of the Ocean Basins

  1. Ocean Ridges
  2. Ocean Trenches
  3. Abyssal Plains
  4. Guyots
  5. Continental Shelves

Plate Tectonics and the Formation of the Ocean Basins

  1. Spreading Ridges
  2. Subduction Zones
  3. Transform Faults
  4. Seismicity in the oceans

Physical Aspects of the Oceans

  1. Chemistry of Sea Water
  2. Physical Properties of Sea Water
  3. Surface Currents
  4. Deep Ocean Currents

Coastal Margins

  1. Tides and Waves
  2. Coastal Geomorphology
  3. Coastal Sediment – detritus – source / transport / deposition
  4. Coastal Sediments – orthochemical – corals / sabkhas

Deltas / Estuaries

  1. Physical Characteristics
  2. The Fraser Delta – character and development
  3. Ancient Deltas

Ocean Sediments

  1. Source and transport mechanisms
  2. Continental shelves
  3. Turbidity currents – turbidite facies
  4. Deep Ocean Sediments – origin / character / distribution

Ancient Oceans

  1. Palaeogeography / Palaeoceanography – Sea Level change
  2. Facies models – Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin
  3. Climate history
  4. Ancient life in the oceans

Physical Resources of the Oceans

  1. Ore deposits
  2. Oil / gas deposits
  3. Ancient analogs

Oceans and the Environment

  1. The Atmosphere and the Oceans – the Carbon Cycle
  2. Oil Spills
  3. Sewage disposal – marine dumping

Methods of Instruction

Lectures and associated laboratory problems will constitute the main mode of instruction. Audio-visual aids will be used where appropriate. Field trip will be conducted out of class time.

Means of Assessment

Mid-term 20%
In-class quizzes 10%
Lab problem sets (4) 40%
Final exam 30%

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Describe and draw plan and profile sketches of the major topographic features of the ocean floor.
  2. Describe the formation of the major topographic features of the ocean floor in terms of plate tectonic processes.
  3. Show an understanding of the physical and chemical properties of sea water.
  4. Show an understanding of the origin and character of surface and deep ocean currents.
  5. Describe the formation of tides and waves and their effect of ocean basins and coastal margins.
  6. Describe the processes of erosion and deposition at coastlines and the resulting coastal landforms.
  7. Describe and identify sediment found in coastal margins and their ancient lithified analogs. Show an understanding of the processes involved in the formation of such sediment.
  8. Describe and show an understanding of the physical and biological processes which control the development of deltaic and estuarine environments.
  9. Describe the character of the Fraser Delta and its development over geologic time.
  10. Show an understanding of the sedimentation process and resulting sediment character and distribution on the ocean floor.
  11. Describe the change in land/sea relationship over time, how this is determined, and its effect on the distribution of life in the oceans.
  12. Describe the formation of a variety of oil/gas and ore deposits in the ocean.
  13. Describe the importance of the oceans as generators of weather and climate patterns and the interaction of the oceans and the atmosphere.
  14. Describe the likely sources of contamination of the oceans and discuss the various remedial methods used to mitigate the impact of these contaminants.

course prerequisites

GEOL 1120, 1121

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.