Natural Resources and the Environment

Module code: GL1104

Module co-ordinator: Dr Dave Holwell

Where do the materials in my mobile phone come from? Should we mine in the Arctic? What are the viable alternatives to fossil fuels? How does the discovery of diamonds change the history of a country?

Natural resources are the fundamental basis for the way we live our lives today. Virtually all the materials we use for transportation, communication, housing, and entertainment come from geological sources. Furthermore, a growing global population requires not just these materials, but also energy and water to function. In order to meet these material and energy requirements, geoscience is used to explore for new resources and to extract existing resources, and plays a critical role in ensuring this is done in a way that is as environmentally sustainable as possible.

This module incorporates a wide range of geological disciplines, all within the context of their application to society, and as such, provides an introduction to our Applied and Environmental Geology course. 

Topics covered

  • How fundamental geological processes combine to concentrate certain metals, gemstones, and hydrocarbons into deposits that can be economically extracted
  • The interaction between natural resources in different geographical areas and social, political, economic, and environmental aspects
  • How the geology beneath our feet is intimately linked with our everyday lives
  • Alternative energy resources
  • Current energy challenges
  • An introduction to hydrogeology: the study of the interaction between groundwater and geological materials