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Department of Chemical and Geological Sciences

Content class: Petrography

Class: GEOLOGICAL SCIENCES (D.M. 270/04) (Offer 2017)
  • CFU: 12
  • SSD: GEO/07


The petrography course aims to provide the basis and the tools for the macroscopic and microscopic recognition of igneous and metamorphic rocks. Basic knowledge of field mapping of magmatic and metamorphic bodies and the main petrological processes governing their genesis in relation to the various geodynamic environments will also be provided.


The petrography course requires basic knowledges of the Chemistry and Mineralogy courses. As regards Chemistry, the student must possess the knowledge relating to: Atom, elements, compounds, molecules, ions. Atomic number, mass number, atomic and molecular mass. Electronic configuration of the elements. Periodic table and periodic properties. Nomenclature of compounds. The chemical reactions. The chemical bonds. States of matter, properties and classification: Gas. Liquid state. Solid state. Chemical balance. Reactions at the equilibrium, equilibrium constant. Chemical thermodynamics: energy, enthalpy, entropy, free energy. Fundaments of chemical kinetics. Inorganic chemistry: formulas, nomenclature, structure and properties of compounds of the main elements of the periodic system. Empirical and molecular formulas. Percentage composition of compounds. Balancing and weighting calculations of chemical reactions. As for Mineralogy, the student must possess knowledge relating to: Crystallography: The crystalline state. Symmetry in crystals. The crystal lattice, the unit cell. Physical properties of minerals. Optical properties of minerals. The mineralogy optical microscope. Crystalchemistry: mineral structure: coordination polyhedra. Compact structures. Polymorphic transitions in minerals. Mineral chemistry, isomorphism. Classification of minerals: Minerals natives; carbonates; sulphates; Oxides and hydroxides; Sulphides. Classification of silicates. Nesosilicates. Sorosilicates. Inosilicates. Phyllosilicates. Tectosilicates. The student needs to have successfully passed Mineralogy 1.

Course Syllabus

Geometry of the plutonic, subvolcanic and extrusive magmatic bodies. Chemical and modal classification of the magmatic rocks. CIPW norm. IUGS classification. The methods in studying the magmatic processes: phase diagrams, variation diagrams, use of trace element and isotopes. Magma sources: melting processes in mantle and crust, causes of the compositional variability in the parent magmas. Magmatic diversification and study methods of the derived magmas. Magma characteristics in various geodynamic settings. Petrogenesis of the Metamorphic Rocks. Metamorphic types and. Mineralogical and structural variations related to the variations of the factors controlling the metamorphism and the protholith composition. IUGS metamorphic rock classification. Study of metamorphic rocks at the petrographic microscope and by using chemographic diagrams. Relations between the characteristics of the metamorphism and the geodynamic settings. Location: Department of Chemistry and Geology, Office of via Campi, 103, 41125 Modena – ground floor. Site:

Reference texts

- A. Peccerillo, D. Perugini (2003). Introduzione alla petrografia ottica. Morlacchi Editore Perugina. - W. S. Mackenzie e C. Guilford (1985): Atlante dei minerali costituenti le rocce in sezione sottile. Zanichelli. - W. S. Mackenzie, C. H. Donaldson e C. Guilford (1990): Atlante delle rocce magmatiche e delle loro tessiture. Zanichelli. - B. W. D. Yardley, W. S. Mackenzie e C. Guilford (1992): Atlante delle rocce metamorfiche e delle loro microstrutture. Zanichelli. - L. Morbidelli (2003). Le rocce e I loro costituenti. Bardi Editore Roma. - M. J. Hibbard (1995): Petrography to Petrogenesis. Prentice Hall - C. D'Amico, F. Innocenti, F.P. Sassi (1987): Magmatismo e Metamorfismo. UTET - M. Wilson (1991): Igneous Petrogenesis. A global tectonic approach. Harper Collins Academic

Teaching methods

Basic concepts of the various topics covered during the course will be provided through lectures. Practical exercises will be carried out for rock classification and basic petrochemical calculations. Learning the techniques of macroscopic and microscopic identification of igneous and metamorphic rocks will be attained by laboratory activities. Multimedia videos will be used to show how some basic petrogenetic processes take place.

Verification of learning

Examination: oral. During the examination, the student must demonstrate the ability to recognize macroscopically a magmatic or metamorphic rock and, with the aid of a microscope, to recognize and classify an intrusive igneous rock, an effusive magmatic rock and a metamorphic one. Some questions about the methods of study of igneous and metamorphic rocks and the basic knowledge of their petrogenetic processes will also be asked. These questions are aimed at understanding the level of critical view of the processes that generate the primary magmas, magmatic differentiation and metamorphic processes in relation to various geodynamic environments. Some questions may also cover the volcanic hazards and the use of rocks as raw materials. The ability to apply knowledge and understanding will be assessed during the field excursion, where magmatic and metamorphic terranes with simple petrogenetic problems will be visited and the student will perform the lithological recognition of rocks found there. The communication skills will be assessed in the light of the way to expose the answers to the questions raised and the methodological choices used to reach the conclusions presented. The discussion of methodological choices and technical tools to solve petrologic problems will show the level of making judgment reached by the student. The awareness of the methodological limitations of the study and the necessary aspects required for further petrological research will provide elements of assessment of learning skills.

Expected results

Knowledge and understanding. At the end of the course, the student should be capable: - to classify intrusive and effusive magmatic rocks and metamorphic rocks; - to learn the basic concepts of closed and open systems which promote the formation of primary magmas focusing on the composition of the source, the physical characteristics of the environment, the differentiation processes; - to learn the relationships among geodynamic environment, magmatic processes, nature of the magma, metamorphic processes; - to apply the basic concepts to the study of simple magmatic and metamorphic rock systems. Applying knowledge and understanding. At the end of the course, the student should be capable of applying his knowledge: - to study magmatic and metamorphic fields with simple problematics; - to recognize the different lithologies in magmatic and metamorphic fields. Making judgements. At the end of the course, the student should have acquired the necessary ability to recognize the most suitable methods for resolving petrologic problems. Communication skills At the end of the course, the student should be capable to clearly, rigorously and briefly present (using also the English language) the results of petrographic studies and to discuss the choice of the used methodologies. Learning skills At the end of the course, the student should be able to evaluate the limits of the acquired knowledge and how to complete his/her preparation in order to deal with more complex problems.