Fossils and Tectonics (GEOS2124)


The unit aims to convey how fossils, stratigraphic and structural data are used together to determine ages and environments and the deformation history of rock layers. It covers an introduction to historical geology and the evolution of the major fossils groups. Methods of stratigraphic age determination include litho-, bio-, chemo-, magneto- stratigraphy, as well as radiometric geochronology and the stratigraphic characteristics of the main geological time intervals. Structural methods are focused on brittle deformation in the upper crust and sediments. Students will gain familiarity with the most important fossil groups and how to identify them, and with the most important types of faults and folds. The formation of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas will also be covered in an earth history and resource exploration context. The simultaneous use of fossils, stratigraphy and structure to unravel the geological history of a set of exposed rock layers is demonstrated during a field excursion to Yass.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


Two 1 hour lectures plus one 2 hour practical each week.


One 2 hour exam, practical reports, field report (100%)


Class notes for the stratigraphy and fossils part will be available for purchase from The University Copy Centre.
The following textbooks will be used for the structural geology component:
- Van der Pluijm, B.A., and S. Marshak, 2004: Earth Structure: An Introduction to Structural Geology and Tectonics, 656p. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc, ISBN: 0-393-92467-X.
- Haakon Fossen, 2010. Structural Geology. 2010. Cambridge University Press, 480 p. ISBN: 9780521516648

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules


24 credit points of Junior units of study, and must include (GEOS1003 or GEOS1903 or GEOL1002 or GEOL1902 or GEOL1501)


GEOL2123 or GEOL2124 or GEOS2924

Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.