05-BGW-GD1 Geodynamic and Plate Tectonic Principles

Beauftragte/r Karsten Gohl

Learning Contents:

This modul teaches the geodynamic and geophysical fundamentals of plate-kinematic and plate-tectonic processes on Earth. This includes an understanding of the major geodynamic cycles from crustal generation at divergent plate boundaries of oceanic and continental rifts to crustal accretion and subduction at convergent plate boundaries, including the underlying driving mechanisms and forces. All components of this cycle will be investigated by assessing geophysical evidence. The students will learn about the geometrical principles of plate-kinematics and apply these in practical exercises. They will learn to visualize, apply and test plate reconstructions by using the software GPlates. In addition to the lecture and exercises, the students will select individual project topics to focus on particular regions or geodynamic processes of interest and will present an oral and written report.

Learning Outcomes, Targeted Competencies:

1) understand fundamental geodynamic processes from Earth´s core to crust
2) apply plate-kinematic principles for regional and global tectonic reconstructions
3) analyse geophysical evidence for tectonic plates types, plate boundaries and crustal characteristics from crustal generation to subduction
4) use specialized software (GPlates) to test existing and generate new plate-tectonic motion models

Prior Knowledge:

Principles of Physics, Tectonics and Applied Geophysics

Course Type 1: Lecture, Exercise, Seminar (L+E+S) 4.0 SWS ( 56.0 h)

Tutorial(s): -


56.0 h presence time
44.0 h self-study
80.0 h exam workload

180 h total workload
This module requires substantial time in addition to the formal course lecture for weekly exercises, software practising and preparation for the examination.

Exam Type:

module exam


exam elements: 1
SL: 0

100 % Presentation with written elaboration


1) Fowler, C.M.R. (2005). The Solid Earth. Cambridge University Press
2) Frisch, W. & Meschede, M. (2009). Plattentektonik: Kontinentverschiebung und Gebirgsbildung. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft (German and English versions)
3) Cox, A. & Hart, R.B. (1986). Plate tectonics: How it works. Blackwell
4) Lecture scripts und special publications made available in Stud.IP