Geology of Coral Reefs

University of Queensland

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Geology of Coral Reefs

  • Host University

    University of Queensland

  • Location

    Brisbane, Australia

  • Area of Study

    Field Component, Geology, Marine Biology

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    Recommended Prerequisite

    ERTH2002, ERTH2003 and MARS2014

    This course requires additional faculty approval for entry.

    *This course has a mandatory field trip component. Additional fees, paid directly to the university, may apply.

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Host University Units

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Course Description
    Field based course including pre-excursion lectures, seven-day field excursion to Heron Island in second semester break (late September, early October) and laboratory work to illustrate geological processes, morphology & zonation, structure, and sedimentation of coral reefs.
    Course Introduction
    Modern coral reefs are among the most significant ecosystems on Earth, representing major centres of marine biodiversity, as well as being among the largest geological structures ever made by life on Earth. ERTH3212 is a largely field-based course highlighted by a seven-day field excursion to Heron Island in the mid-semester break that aims to illustrate the geological processes, morphology, zonation, structure, & sedimentation on coral reefs within the broader context of modern reef science. The significance of understanding modern reefs for the interpretation of ancient reefs will be emphasized throughout, but the course also provides basic background for management of modern reefs. Understanding how reefs form and how they have reacted to environmental change in the past is critical for predicting future reactions to predicted environmental change.
    The course provides an introduction to geological research procedures and techniques for Earth scientists with interests in modern or ancient reefs and limestone, while providing fundamental context for biologists or environmental scientists considering careers in coral reef research.
    ERTH3212 is a 2 unit course offered during second semester that builds on the platform established by 2nd Level courses such as BIOL2014 (Marine Science), ERTH2003 (Sedimentary Petrology and Stratigraphy), ERTH2002 Palaeobiology, and ERTH2050 (Field Geology). It complements the 3rd/4th Level courses ERTH3103 (Sedimentary Environments and Facies Models), ERTH3110 (Marine Geology), and ERTH3203 (Energy Resources and Fossil Fuels).
    There will be an additional charge of approximately $700 AUD to be paid directly to the university upon arrival which will cover boat transportation, accommodation and food for the compulsory field excursion. Additionally, students are required to make their own transport arrangements to the boat terminal in Gladstone, Queensland.
    Learning Objectives
    After successfully completing this course you should be able to:
    • Identify the geological processes involved in reef development;
    • Recognize the topographic, ecological and sedimentary zonation on modern reef tops;
    • Assess sediment production and dispersal processes on modern reefs;
    • Interpret the morphology, internal structure, and geological evolution of modern reefs;
    • Describe beachrock distribution, formation, and the evolution of coral cays.
    • Interpret fossil reefal limestones by analogy with modern reefs.
    Class Contact
    2 hours Lectures + 7day field trip

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Some courses may require additional fees.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.