Fundamentals of Geology

Shephard Mabhanga

Course description


University of Zimbabwe

Faculty of Science

Department of Geology

GL204 Fundamentals of Geology

Semester 2, 2018-2019


Lecturer: Mr S Mabhanga

Level                        2

Contact hours           120

Credits                      10

Course aims: The course aims to provide students of engineering with the many aspects of geology that are relevant to the engineering profession. The course is structured for the engineering student who starts without any knowledge of geology but is required to understand the ground conditions and  geological processes both of which are the foundation of his/her future profession. The course is basically structured in two broad sections: the first is the basic foundation and principles of geology and the second is the application of the geological concepts in other special fields of geology with an emphasis on those areas important to the engineering student.

The first section covers the description and identification of rock forming minerals; the three families of rocks their description and identification; earth movements and the geological structures that result from these movements; geological maps their production, the representation of geological structures on maps and the map interpretation; and the principles of stratigraphy.

The second which is the applied component of the course is an introduction to the stratigraphy of Zimbabwe making reference to occurrence of minerals of economic importance; an introduction to hydrogeology; the strength and stability of rocks and an introduction to environmental geology.






  • Rocks – the nature of rocks, Three families of rocks: igneous rock formation and classifications
  • Introduction to igneous petrology
  • Classification of igneous rocks, classification by texture, composition, colour, mineralogy and a brief introduction to IUGS classification
  • Properties of magma, composition and classification: Andesitic, basaltic…,

Lecture 03-04:


  • Metamorphic rock formation and classifications
    • Describing different types of metamorphism, tectonic environments and their controlling factors,
    • Textural classification of metamorphic rocks; foliated and non-foliated rocks,


Lecture 05-06:

  • Sedimentary rock formation and classifications
  • Introduction to sedimentology and sedimentary processes, weathering, transport and deposition of sediments
    • Sedimentary textures (by grain size, sorting and rounding) and structures: primary and secondary for example mudcracks and chert nodules respectively.
    • Sediments and their provenance
    • Explanation of the diagenesis process,
    • Classification of sedimentary rocks, sedimentary environments.


Lecture 07-08: MINERALOGY

  • The common rock forming minerals,
  • Description of mineral properties (color, hardness, etc)


Lecture 09-10:

  • Description of silicate minerals and their properties


Lecture 11-12:


  • Description of non-silicate minerals and their properties,




  • Introduction to plate tectonics: Earth movements and the deformation of rocks


Lecture 14-15:


  • Identification and description of different types of outcrops and subsurface geology,
  • Geological structures and measuring of their orientation- strike, dip and dip-direction

Lecture 16-17:

  • Folds, definitions pertaining fold structures,
  • Types and characteristics of folds


Lecture 17-18:

  • Faults, fractures in rocks,
  • Different types of faults and fault types,
  • Joints and shear zones.


  • Description of geological maps,
  • Components of geological maps: horizontal beds, dipping beds, vertical beds


Lecture 20:


  • Stratum contours/Strike lines, Orientation – strike, dip and dip direction


Lecture 21-22:

  • Recognition of geological structures – unconformities, faults, folds,
  • Drawing cross sections, Three-point interpretations


Lecture 23-24:

  • Drawing cross sections




  • Igneous rock description and identification
  • Metamorphic rock description and identification
  • Sedimentary rock description and identification
  • Mineral identification and mineral properties
  • Identification of structures, folds and faults
  • Drawing of cross sections


Methods of facilitation

Lectures, assignments and practicals.



Assessment strategies

4 Assignments, 4 tests and 1 examination.  Final grade coursework: 40% and examination 60%.


  1. Stagman J.G., 1978, An Outline of the Geology of Rhodesia, Bulletin 80, Rhodesia Geological Survey.
  2. Halder S.K., 2014 Introduction to Mineralogy
  3. McLean A.C. and Gribble C.D., 1979, Geology for Civil Engineers
  4. Howard A and Remson I, 1978, Geology in Environmental Planning.
  5. Tank R.W., 1973, Focus on Environmental Geology



    • 40 x 1 Hour lectures,
    •  1x 1hr tests,
    • 1 x 3hr practical session (visits to dam and dump sites);
    • 4 x 1hr Group presentations
    • O.J. Maponga



  • Hydrogeology
  • Environmental Geology
  • Stratigraphy
  • Geology for Engineers



Lectures 1 & 2 Water in general

  • Water and the human needs
  • The hydrological cycle
  • Reservoirs of the hydrological cycle
  • Fresh water in the hydrosphere
  • Hydrology vs hydrogeology
  • Sources of underground water
  • Distribution of underground water
  • The water profile
  • Water quality and threats
  • The Water Balance and hydrological equation
  • Role of hydrologists and hydrogeologists.



Lectures 3-5: Soil moisture and groundwater

  • Formation of voids in rocks
  • Porosity
    • Definition
    • Measurement of porosity
    • Factors affecting porosity
    • Porosity of selected rock types
  • Permeability
    • Definition
    • Factors affecting permeability
    • Permeability of selected rocks


Lectures 3-5 (con’t)

  • Water specific retention, specific yield
  • Capillary movement in soil
  • Hydgroscopic water
  • Hydraulic conductivity
  • Hydraulic gradient

Lecture 6: Rocks and Ground water terms

  • Aquifuge
  • Aquitard
  • Aquiclude
  • Aquifers



Lectures 7 -8: Systems Approach

  • Humanity/Social System
  • Geosphere Hydrosphere
    • Igneous rocks and the environment
    • Sedimentary rocks and the environment
    • Metamorphic rocks and the environment
  • Atmosphere

Lecture 9 -13: Environmental hazards

  • Geologic
  • Climatological
  • Human induced

Lectures 14-18: Environmental challenges

  • Acid mine drainage (AMD)
  • Mine dumps
  • Waste disposal
  • Water contamination

Lectures 19 to 20: Artisanal and small-scale miners

  • Definition
  • Characteristics of ASM
  • Role of ASM

Group Presentation

Lectures 21-22: Environmental Legistration

  • Introduction
  • EMA Act and related Acts
  • Environmental Impact Assessment

Test 1


Lectures 23 -28: Principles of stratigraphy

  • Definition of stratigraphy
  • The earth’s composition
  • Steno’s Law of Stratigraphy
  • Law of inclusion

Lectures 29-33: Zimbabwe’s stratigraphy

  • The Archaean Basement and Greenstone belts and economic importance
  • The Great Dyke of Zimbabwe and its economic importance
  • The Karoo System and its economic importance

Practical Session: Visit to the Geological Survey Museum


Lectures 34-38: Earth Materials

  • Description and behaviour of soils and rocks
  • Engineering aspects of igneous rocks
  • Engineering aspects of metamorphic rocks
  • Engineering aspects of sedimentary rocks
  • Geological materials used in construction
    • Dimension stone
    • Roofing and facing materials
    • Crushed rock (aggregate)
    • Lime, cement and plaster
    • Clay deposits and refractory materials

Lectures 39-40: Geology and construction

  • Excavation (opencast and underground)
    • Machinery
    • Rock  attributes and tests
  • Tunnels and tunnellingDams and reservoirs
    • Geological factors
    • Hydrological factors
    • Gases
  • Types of dams (earth, concrete dams)
  • Siting of dams


Manager(s) for GL204 : Shephard Mabhanga
Administrator for TSIME Online : Administrator
Phone : 18008
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