AG-211 Arctic Marine Geology (15 ECTS)

Students on ship deck

Autumn semester (August–December), annually. Cancelled in 2020.
Letter grade (A through F)
Book chapters, articles; Ca. 750 pages. Main text bok is R. Stein: Arctic Ocean Sediments, Elsevier 2008.
Fieldwork, NOK 1400 (7 days x NOK 200 per overnight stay)
10/20 students
Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue
April 15, 2020

Course requirements:

60 ECTS within general natural science, of which 30 ECTS within the field of geology/geosciences. The applicant must be enrolled in a programme at Bachelor level, or document that the course is approved into the applicant’s current study programme.

The course should be combined with AG-210 The Quarternary and Glacial Geology of Svalbard (15 ECTS) and the courses are designed to complement each other.

Academic content:

This course will start with an introduction to geology and oceanography of the world’s oceans, outlining the distribution of main sediment types, their respective sources and depositional environments. In the context of the global plate tectonics, the formation of the Arctic Ocean and the resulting change in the oceans’ circulation pattern will be discussed. Various proxies used in deciphering the associated palaeoceanographic, sedimentological and climatic variations are examined.

The course also covers the modern sediments, sediment sources and sedimentation patterns in the Arctic Ocean as well as the role of sea ice in the Arctic climate history. The history of Arctic exploration and current status of mapping of the Arctic Ocean, and its present geography and physiography will be reviewed. The role of glaciations in the formations of the geological structure, sediment stratigraphy and morphology of Svalbard as well as other high latitude continental margins will form an essential part of the course. Typical glacial marine sedimentary environments, ranging from small basins in front of outlet glaciers, through fjords to continental shelves and -slopes as well as deep-water abyssal plains will be discussed.

Case studies from the Svalbard margin as well as other presently and formerly glaciated margins will be presented to illustrate characteristic sediment types and stratigraphic sequences associated with each sedimentary environment. Modern marine geological field and laboratory methods and instrumentation used for collecting and analysing geophysical and sedimentological data will demonstrate some of the tools used in reconstructing the past oceanographic, sedimentary and environmental conditions.

Learning outcomes:

Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • have knowledge of large scale structure and evolution of ocean basins, focusing on the Arctic Ocean
  • be familiar with the Arctic Ocean’s main physiographic features, current systems, sediment sources and transport mechanisms
  • understand the role of the Arctic Ocean in the global climate system and have knowledge of main modern marine geological survey methods and instrumentation.

Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • have practical skills of data acquisition during fieldwork
  • have learned techniques of geological sampling of seabed, sediment core logging and have practiced selected geophysical, geotechnical, sedimentological and micropalaeontological methods
  • be able to identify the main types of submarine glacial landforms and understand their palaeo-glacial implications
  • have developed seabed mapping skills and be able to interpret and analyse the sedimentological and geophysical data in terms of palaeo-environmental changes.

General competences
Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • have basic experience in planning and executing marine geological/geophysical expeditions in the Arctic
  • have independent as well as team-work skills
  • be able to conduct individual research projects and to present the results, both in writing and orally.

Learning activities:

The course extends over a full semester. Initially, students attend two days of compulsory Arctic survival and safety training.

Through lectures the students will obtain a theoretical basis and background for their work, independently and in groups, further on during the course. The course includes 7 days of marine geological/geophysical cruise on a research vessel in the waters around Svalbard. During the cruise, students will collect geophysical, oceanographic and sedimentological data that they will discuss onboard the vessel and summarize in a cruise report. The collected data will be further analysed in the lab and discussed on a seminar after the cruise. The knowledge and skills acquired during the lectures, seminars and laboratory exercises will be put to use in writing and presenting an individual term project.

Total lecture and seminar hours: 42 hours.
Total labs/exercises/presentations: 35 hours.
Fieldwork: (scientific cruise) 7 days.

Compulsory learning activities:

Fieldwork/cruise, laboratory exercises, seminars.
All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to sit the exam.


Method Duration
Percentage of final grade
Cruise and lab report (group work) 20%
Term project: Written report and oral presentation 40%
Written exam  3 hours 40%

All assessments must be passed in order to pass the course.
Each assessment is graded, and subsequently combined into a single grade. Partial grades for each assessment will be available.

Application deadline: 15 April 2020

Students on ship deck in front of glacier

Svalbard! AG-211 course cruise. Photo: Riko Noormets/UNIS.

UNIS students analysing mud onboard Helmer Hansen

Mud is fun! AG-211 students analyse mud samples from the ocean floor onboard R/V Helmer Hanssen. Photo: Riko Noormets/UNIS.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Mobile menu toggle