Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology

Darrell Henry

Louisiana State University
University with graduate programs, including doctoral programs


This is a junior-level igneous and metamorphic petrology course that is meant to give students practical and theoretical backgrounds for identifying, classifying and interpreting igneous and metamorphic rocks, generally in a tectonics context. The course is a 3 credit course, with two hours of lecture and 3 hours of lab per week. This course is considered as a communication-intensive course due to the amounts of revised writing and oral presentations required in the course.

Course Size:

Course Context:

This is a junior-level petrology course with prerequisites of mineralogy, petrography and chemistry. This is a required course for the geology major and a prerequisite for field camp.

Course Goals:

Students should be able to:
- identify and classify igneous and metamorphic rocks samples
- do effective petrography and place samples in a geologic framework
- determine reactions that take place in the rocks, and place these reactions in a PTX context
- collect and interpret microanalytical data

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

There are a series of group and individual lab exercises and projects that specifically develop some of the skills that are sought in the course. The Pet Rock Project specifically has the students analyze an unknown rock sample and do petrologic interpretation.

Skills Goals

The general skills that are:
- effective collaboration in group settings
- critically evaluation of web and professional literature
- communication of the important concepts and ideas to the instructor and fellow students

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Several of the labs are constructed to be done in groups assigned by the instructor, with the group evaluated as a whole. Several of the oral and written presentations require that the student access web and written professional literature and critique the material. The communications aspect is developed through several oral presentations (volcano and pet rock) presented to and critiqued by the class and through a variety of written exercises. The Pet Rock project specifically is meant to be written in the style of a professional paper with an opportunity to revise the initial paper, and to be orally presented to the class in the style of a professional meeting.

Attitudinal Goals

improve students sense of being able to "read" rocks

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

The students have ample opportunity to interpret a number of aspects of igneous and metamorphic rocks. This is thier first exposure to much of this.


Classic lecture exams are minimized, constituting only 40% of the grade. The balance is based on a variety of written and oral presentations evaluated by the instructor and, in part, by the students.


Course web page is currently under construction and link will be posted when available