NKEB14005U  Geochemistry (GeoKem)

Volume 2015/2016

The course gives an introduction to:

  • Theoretical and practical use of geochemical concepts (e.g. equilibrium, precipitation, surface processes, pH and redox).
  • The distribution of elements on Earth.
  • Basic chemical processes of interest for all geological systems (volcanic, metamorphic, sedimentary and environmental).
  • Thermodynamic and kinetics.
  • Mineral/fluid equilibria and the relationship between composition, temperature, pressure and pH.
  • Calculation of concentration, activity and ionic strength.
  • Combine the thought concepts and processes in case-stories in the carbonate and silicate systems to create an overview of the influence of a combination of processes.

The student will develop problem solving skills and build confidence in quantitative expression and how to make appropriate assumptions and testing them as well as develop skills for interpretation of geochemical and geological diagrams by learning how to calculate and construct them.

Learning Outcome

The learning goal of the course is to build a fundamental understanding of the chemical processes happening in nature, from Earth surface to mantle processes. We will develop an overall understanding of the role that geochemistry has in geology, in our everyday lives, for the creation and development of the Earth and the origin and development for life. We will gain an understanding of the impact that volcanic, metamorphic, sedimentary and biological processes have on our environment and how pollution is controlled by reactions at mineral surfaces.

When the course is finished it is expected that the student:


  • Can express equilibria for precipitation and dissolution of minerals with respect to especially pH but also pressure, temperature and redox levels.
  • Have an overview of where to find specific elements and why.
  • Describe chemical reactions by balanced reaction equations.
  • Describe the transport and behavior in aqueous systems at the surface and at elevated temperature and pressure.
  • Have a good understanding of construction, building, and interpretation of phase-, speciation- and redox diagrams.
  • Have an understanding of the pH levels where we can expect precipitation and adsorption of metals and this influence on water remediation.
  • Can use quantitative concepts to establish the possible results of inorganic reactions.


  • Can calculate and construct redox- and speciation diagrams with and without mineral phases.
  • Use geochemical terminology to describe and explain geological processes.
  • Make calculations aimed at interpretations of geochemical reactions and end products.
  • Express relevant assumptions and access their justification.
  • Use and combine formulae from the course topics.
  • Have developed basic qualifications of problem solving and critical thinking and data assessment.
  • To be able to predict chemical reactions and end products from different types of diagrams representing geological reactions, that builds on simple (aqueous solutions where only concentration varies) to more complex systems (variable concentration, P, T).


  • Are able to calculate and account for geological relevant diagrams (phase-, redox- and speciation-).
  • Can predict the reaction path and outcome of inorganic reactions at given pH values or concentrations.
  • Can use quantitative concepts and establish possible outcome of reactions.
  • Can describe inorganic chemical processes in nature
  • Have a basic knowledge of chemical principles from natural systems which will provide a base for future courses in geosciences and other advanced studies in any subfield of geochemistry.

Krauskopf and Bird (1995) Introduction to Geochemistry, McGraw-Hill (book is currently out of print but participants have access to our publisher-donated electronic version;cost 350 kr.) Periodic Table and copies of overheads
(about 50 kr for printed copies).

Basic chemistry (gymnasium/secondary school level) and interest in Earth sciences.
Lectures followed by exercises
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Continuous assessment
The continuous evaluation is based on 3 tests and handed in exercises. The scores of each test counts for 30% of the final grade. The number of approved exercises sums up to 10% of the final grade.
Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examinors.
A three hour written test
Criteria for exam assesment

As described in the learning outcome

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Excursions
  • 2
  • Lectures
  • 64
  • Practical exercises
  • 90
  • Exam
  • 50
  • Total
  • 206