spring 2022
GEO-3136 Practical geochronological methods in marine, terrestrial Quaternary Geology and geohazards - 10 ECTS

Application deadline

Applicants from countries within EU/EEA: 1 December for the spring semester.

Exchange students and Fulbright students: 1 October for the spring semester.

UiT students: 1 February for the spring semester.

Type of course

This course is available as a single course.

Admission requirements

Bachelor's degree in geology or a similar degree following a programme of study of at least three years duration, or similar education approved in accordance with the Norwegian Universities Act section 3-4. In addition, specialization in geology worth the equivalent of at least 80 ECTS credits is required. Normally, an average mark of C or better is required at the bachelor's degree level or other programme for basis of admission.

Application code: 9371.

Course content

Within the scope of this course, students will get applied training in key geochronological methods to solve challenges for their own studies of terrestrial and marine geological archives. The course takes advantage of easy access from UiT to geohazards, glacial landscapes, and fjord sites around Tromsø. Students ability to choose sample locations, analyze and interpret geochronological data is the key to understand past interactions between the geohazards, Earth system and climate change. The course starts with a theoretical background and physical principles of key geochronological methods. A field course and excursion will provide hands-on experience in sampling strategies and techniques. Key methods that will be discussed are radiocarbon dating, optically stimulated luminescence dating, cosmogenic nuclide dating, and tephrochronology. Lectures, seminars and exercises will alternate to provide background information for current challenges and avenues of dating methods in high latitude environments and in geohazard studies.

With exercises and data analyses, students will focus on practical challenges of the dating techniques, like building age-depth models and evaluation of uncertainties. In seminars, student groups will critically assess published case studies with regard to age constraints, interpretations and related challenges.

The course is recommended for students in marine geology and geophysics, sedimentology, geohazards, and Quaternary geology.

Objectives of the course


The student has

  • a comprehensive understanding of geochronological dating methods: radiocarbon, optically stimulated luminescence dating, cosmogenic nuclide dating, and tephrochronology.
  • knowledge to plan a sampling strategy for a marine or terrestrial research question in the field.
  • a good knowledge of inherited problems, challenges and potentials of the geochronological methods.
  • knowledge of how to critically analyze, and graphically present geochronological data in the light of a given research question.
  • advanced knowledge of and ability to explain different age-depth models and their (dis-)advantages, compare them and to place these into a large-scale context.
  • knowledge of the potentials and limitations of each method and data sources.
  • understanding and overview of geochronological information from databases, primary research articles and scientific reports.


The student can

  • perform a number of standard statistical procedures and analyses, to report and to discuss the results of data experiments.
  • compose data with Excel, Past, Matlab or comparable software.
  • build calibrated radiocarbon age-depth models with OxCal/Calib, and Bacon.
  • calculate luminescence and cosmogenic nuclide dating results.
  • identify tephra layers and their potential age.
  • examine internet and databases as a resource for scientific information.

General competences

The student can

  • carry out the most important elements of geochronological research projects: penetrating literature, carrying out field research, analyzing data and communicating results to fellow students/scientists.
  • critically evaluate and judge the quality of data and conclusions presented in primary databases, research articles and scientific reports.
  • critically evaluate and judge the quality of data and conclusions obtained and presented in the group projects.
  • report findings and formulate scholarly arguments when delivering oral/poster presentations, reporting scientific findings, and presenting data.
  • write a research essay on a given topic by presenting and justifying own results in the light of published studies.
  • work independently as well as in a team to solve problems related to geochronology.

Language of instruction and examination


Teaching methods

16 hours of lectures, 20 hours of practical exercises, 8 hours of seminars, 2 days of field course and excursion.

Information to incoming exchange students

This course is open for inbound exchange student who meets the admission requirements, including prerequisites. Please see the Admission requirements" and the "Prerequisite" sections for more information.

Do you have questions about this module? Please check the following website to contact the course coordinator for exchange students at the faculty: INBOUND STUDENT MOBILITY: COURSE COORDINATORS AT THE FACULTIES | UiT


Poster presentation of data analysis (counts 25% of the final grade), report including poster/oral presentation (counts 75% of the final grade). Both parts must be passed in order to pass the course.

Grading scale: Letter grades A-F, where of F is fail. A re-sit examination for students that did not pass the previous ordinary examination will not be arranged.

Compulsory learning activities

Approval of training in health, safety, and environment prior to the field course and excursion. This includes the use of helmets, high-visibility safety vests etc., and the use of geological equipment (e.g., hammer, spade, scraper, magnifier) in the field.

Active participation in at least 80% of the lectures and seminars.

Approval of the practical exercises.

Participation in the field course and excursion is mandatory.

  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 10
  • Course code: GEO-3136
  • Tidligere år og semester for dette emnet