Hosted by: University of Melbourne

Venue: Course will be at School of Earth Sciences (McCoy Bld., Parkville, The University of Melbourne)

Dates: 16th October - 20 October 2023
9:00 - 5:00 daily, 37.5 contact hours total (10 hours lectures, 27.5 hours practical exercises)

Time, Date, Location of First Meeting: On Campus only

NOTE: Dates of the detailed schedule are from last year and will be updated in due time.

2023 Course Information

Subject Overview:

This is a 5‐day course of lectures, practical sessions, and laboratory visits focused on modern mineral characterisation techniques. The course will include practical exercises involving use of X‐ray diffraction (XRD), electron microscopy (EM), and electron microprobe analysis (EMPA) to characterise the structure and composition of known minerals.  Basic mineralogy concepts will be reviewed, and some advanced concepts presented.  We will visit the Melbourne Museum for a tour of the mineral collection.

Learning outcomes:

Familiarity with modern laboratory methods of mineral identification/characterisation.

Understanding of the applied significance of crystal chemistry and symmetry.

Knowledge of practical uses of minerals and their economic value.


Project report (1500 words)
Should be written like a manuscript for a journal, with some or all of the following headings: introduction, methods, results, discussion, and conclusions. The report is due, in pdf format, by 5 pm on the Friday after the course ends), and is worth 50% of the subject mark. Reports should be emailed to Helen Green (, and should use the following file-naming convention: studentname_mineralname_IMN.pdf (e.g. helengreen_vesuvianite_IMN.pdf).
Project presentation
Students will give a short presentation (~10 mins) on their unknown mineral and how they came to their identification. The presentation will cover the same concepts as the project report, but assessment criteria are specific to that expected for an oral presentation. The presentation is worth 20% of the subject mark.
Completion of daily assignment tasks
Exercises regarding interpretation of electron microprobe data and calculation of mineral formulae (Day 3) and treatment of analytical geochemical data (Day 4) are not assessed, but completion of these exercises is a hurdle requirement for the course. 
Multiple answer short assignments (3 x 10% = 30% total subject mark)

  • 1 short assignment on Day 2: EDS/WDS (Graham)
  • 1 short assignment on Day 3: (1) micro-CT (Jay) 
  • 1 short assignment on Day 4: (1) common geochemical techniques (Ashlea)
These exercises can easily be completed within the scheduled times. Calculators are required. Laptops are recommended for the statistical exercises.


$125 for lab exercise costs (EM facilities, XRD consumables)

Knowledge of third-year geology strongly recommended. A year 12-level chemistry background is also strongly recommended.

Students require a working knowledge of Microsoft Excel.

Further course information can be found at:

Coordinator: Helen Green

  • Teacher: Helen Green

Location: University of Melbourne and online (dual delivery)

Venue: Meet in room 204, Second Floor, McCoy Building, University of Melbourne

Dates: 15th – 19th of May 2023

Time: 9 am

Costs: None

2023 Course Info

The course combines the RIG (Radiogenic Isotope Geology) and TTA (Thermochronology: Theory and Applications) courses of previous years. It covers the basic principles of Ar-Ar, Rb-Sr, Sm-Nd, U-Pb (conventional Pb-Pb, U-Pb, SHRIMP, LA-ICPMS, CHIME), Lu-Hf and Re-Os, as well as fission track and (U-Th)/He thermochronology. The application of these geochronology/thermochronology and isotopic tracing methods to a variety of geological problems will be presented. Afternoon sessions will be devoted to pracs (calculating ages, meaning of errors, plotting data e.g. isochrons, U-Pb plots, histograms using the computer package ISOPLOT and modelling thermal histories). 

Students require a working knowledge of the Excel software package.

Further course and assessment information can be found at:

Coordinator: Sam Boone,

  • Teachers: Sam Boone, Ashlea Wainwright, Dave Phillips