EARTHSCI 706 : Faults, Fluids and Ore Deposits


2022 Semester One (1223) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Application of concepts of structural geology to mineral exploration, with a focus on hydrothermal ore deposits. Students are exposed to fundamental theory to work through key deposit types with scenarios designed to encourage critical thinking, problem solving and good practice. A field component may be offered.

Course Overview

EARTHSCI 706 is an advanced course in applied structural geology, taught by Julie (JR) Rowland, who is a Fellow of the Society of Economic Geologists. 'Faults, fluids and ore-deposits' is one of JR's favourite topics in geoscience. Why? Because it is dynamic and relevant. Some of the world's most important ore deposits form as a result of hot water moving through structurally-controlled sub-crustal plumbing systems. As we move toward a green economy and make the just transition to a low carbon future, we will need to utilize increasing amounts of precious and critical metals, some of which are only economic as byproducts of other targets. An understanding of the geometry of deposits is fundamental for making good decisions on the economic and environmental viability of extraction.

This blended-online course is designed to build your confidence in applying concepts of structural geology to mineral exploration. We start with theory and work our way through key deposit types. We finish with practical considerations of good practice including ethics and mining. If time, interest and the pandemic allows, a field experience will be offered to supplement the course work.

The material in this course is drawn from  'Applied Structural Geology of Ore-Forming Hydrothermal Systems, 2020, Reviews in Economic Geology Volume 21', edited by JR and her consultancy colleague, David Rhys.

Expected prior knowledge: students taking this course should have completed foundation courses in geology or exploration geophysics, or have real-world experience of mineral or geothermal exploration.

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Visualise conceptual structural models and fault-fluid interactions for a range of ore-forming hydrothermal systems (Capability 1)
  2. Read and learn with increased confidence from scientific literature in the fields of structural and economic geology (Capability 1 and 5)
  3. Understand and apply concepts of structural geology to mineral exploration (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  4. Demonstrate consideration of good practice and common pitfalls in applied structural geology of ore deposits (Capability 2 and 3)
  5. Apply and evaluate strategies for working effectively within a team to solve problems and maximise quality of an output (Capability 4, 5 and 6)
  6. Deliver and discuss scientific information with increased confidence and precision. (Capability 4)
  7. Apply theoretical and ethical understanding in practical scenarios (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  8. Critically evaluate their performance and development in relation to the learning outcomes for the course (Capability 5 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Annotated bibliography 20% Individual Coursework
Practical problems 1 10% Individual Coursework
Practical problems 2 10% Peer Coursework
Report (written) 25% Group & Individual Coursework
Report (presentation) 15% Group Coursework
Reflections 20% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Annotated bibliography
Practical problems 1
Practical problems 2
Report (written)
Report (presentation)

Key Topics

Topics covered in this course include:
1. Theory
  • Principles of structural geology as applied to hydrothermal gold deposits
  • Processes controlling fluid flow in fracture-controlled hydrothermal systems
2. Deposit types
  • Structural controls on ore localisation in epithermal gold-silver deposits
  • Structural controls on ore localisation in orogenic gold deposits
  • Deformation and modification of volcanogenic massive sulfide deposits
  • Creation of permeability in the porphyry copper environment
3. Practice
  • Structural analysis of drill core
  • Targeting at the district scale using integrated geological-geophysical interpretation
  • Ethical considerations in responsible mining

Special Requirements

An optional multi-day field experience may be offered to supplement this course if pandemic conditions allow.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect a weekly 2 hour tutorial to discuss readings and assignments; 2-4 hours of reading and thinking about the content per week for the first two thirds of the course, with the remainder of hours for work on assignments.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at scheduled tutorials to complete components of the course.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

The course book for this course is:
Rowland, JV, and Rhys, D.A., 2020. Applied Structural Geology of Ore-Forming Hydrothermal Systems, Reviews in Economic Geology Vol. 21.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

I ran this course as a trial in 2020 and received very positive feedback. However, students found the assessment load too demanding. For this reason, for 2022 I have taken a major writing exercise out of the suite of assessments, and added value to the remaining activities.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 26/10/2021 02:47 p.m.