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CODE 84612
SEMESTER 1° Semester


Environmental Mineralogy is a modern discipline with numerous applications for Geological and Natural Sciences: it allows to investigate and model the hazard, risk and environmental impact of natural and synthetic mineral species. It deals with issues of great relevance for professionals and technicians of Public Administrations and private companies in charge of monitoring and safeguarding the territory as well as for the development of scientific researches in the environmental fields. 



The course aims to provide knowledge on the main aspects of environmental mineralogy and risk assessment, considering either the theoretical basis and the methodological approach. The main topics dealt with are: 1) mineral reactivity in supergenic environment and interactions among lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere; 2) role of minerals in uptake, release, transport and dispersal of toxic metals; 3) minerals and mineral reactivity in natural and anthropogenic soils  4) evaluation of the natural background concentrations of metals and minerals of environmental concern in natural and anthropogenic soils; 5) methods for the determination of the environmental impact of minerals in natural and anthropogenic sites; 6) the role of mineralogy in reclamation/mitigation projects. Several case studies will be presented and analyzed also by means of laboratory and field activities.


The attendance and participation in the planned training activities (lectures, lab and field exercises) will allow the student to acquire the necessary skills of Environmental Mineralogy necessary to face studies in the field of the geologist profession as well as scientific researches in Earth and Natural Sciences.

In particular, the student will be able to:

• know the main classes and mineralogical species of environmental interest;

• apply the theoretical and practical knowledge and skills acquired to specific case studies;

• examine samples of rocks, soils and sediments to identify the relevant minerals from an environmental point of view;

• critically evaluate the data collected during detection, sampling and laboratory analysis to develop a scientific or professional study;

• write and argue scientific and/or professional reports.


The following basic knowledge of mineralogy is required to effectively tackle the teaching content: 1) systematic and chemical-physical properties of minerals; 2) methods for rock and mineral Investigations.


The teaching consists of ordinary lectures and practical activities (field- and laboratory-activities). Attendance at lessons and practical activities is strongly recommended because learning tests, activities for the application of acquired knowledge, practical and methodological activities, are planned.

Lectures in the classroom are delivered through multimedia presentations. For the first semester, the lessons will be possibly held in presence, guaranteeing however the fruition of the lessons even remotely, through video recording, synchronous or asynchronous.

The laboratory activities are aimed at the practical application of the theoretical knowledge acquired during the lectures. They comprise:

• field exercises aimed at collecting data at the outcrop scale and defining strategies for incoherent rocks and sediments sampling;

• collection of in-situ data by meand of portable instruments;

• individual exercises by means of transmitted polarizing light microscopy for the qualitative and quantitative determination of the mineralogical composition;

• group exercises by means of scanning electron microscope to determine the chemical composition of minerals and microtexitural and microstructural characteristics of samples;

• classroom exercises for processing and returning the collected data.

The laboratory activities will take place in labs equipped with microscopes and specific facilities and in the DISTAV's electron microscopy laboratory. The laboratory activities will be possibly held in presence, eventually with multiple shifts.


The course program includes the presentation and discussion of the following topics:

• Mineralogical species of environmental concern;

• Asbestos and other pathogenic fibers: classification, physical properties and methods for quantitative identification and analysis in rocks, sediments, artificial materials, air and water;

• Asbestos in rocks and soils: origin, distribution and release of asbestos fibers;

• Exploitation, employment and distribution of asbestos in the anthropic environment;

• Asbestos in the natural and anthropic environment: international, national and regional legislation;

• Excavated earth and rocks: the role of Environmental Mineralogy;

• From bedrocks to soils: processes of alteration and genesis of minerals during the development of a pedogenetic profile;

• The role of minerals in the ecotoxic elements cycle: release and uptake of chemical species during alteration processes in supergenic environments;

• Environmental mineralogy and georesources: environmental impact of extractive activity with particular reference to acid drainage processes (Acid Mine Drainage).

• Interactions between minerals and biosphere: biomineralizations and alteration processes mediated by organisms.


All slides  and other teaching materials used during lessons will be available on AulaWeb at the end of each cycle of lessons / laboratory exercises.

The books below are suggested as a supporting text:

  • Eggleton R.A., Aspandiar M. (2007): Environmental Mineralogy. Honours Shortcourse, CRC LEME Open File Report 206, Cooperative Research Centre for Landscape Environments and Mineral Exploration, Bentley (Australia). ISBN 1921039760, 159 p., available online at the address:
  • Vaughan D.J. & Wogelius R.A. (2000): Environmental Mineraogy – European Mineralogical Union - Eotvos University Press, Budapest (Ungheria), ISBN 9634631339, 434 p.


Exam Board



LAURA GAGGERO (President Substitute)




Classes will start from September 28th 2020 and will end by January 22th 2021.

Please, consult detailed timetable at the following link:






The exam consists of 3 written tests during the course and a final oral exam.

The written tests include: 1) drafting of a technical report on the activities carried out during the field exercises; 2) drafting of a technical report on the activities carried out during laboratory exercises; 3) closed-answer learning test concerning the topics covered during the course. The tests are passed with an overall average score equal to or greater than 18/30. In case of failure of the 3 tests the student will have to take a written exam including the three activities scheduled for the tests. The written exam is passed if the student has obtained a score greater than or equal to 18/30.

The oral exam consists of the presentation of a topic chosen by the student and the answer to questions asked by the teacher on topics covered during the course.

The final score is given by the arithmetic mean between the written tests and the oral exam. The oral exam can be sustained in the same session as the written test and in subsequent sessions published on the UNIGE website. Three calls will be available in the winter session (January-February) and 3 calls in the summer session (June, July, September).

Please refer to the specific AulaWeb page for any updates due to changes in the health and epidemiological situation.


Details on how to prepare for the exams and the degree of detail required for each topic will be provided during the lessons.

The written tests will verify the effective acquisition of theoretical knowledge and the ability to connect and integrate such knowledge by applying them to specific case studies developed during field and laboratory activities.

The oral exam will focus mainly on the topics covered during the lectures and will have the purpose to evaluate not only if the student has reached an adequate level of knowledge, but also the capacity to apply this knowledge and understanding to simple case studies. The ability to expose the arguments clearly and with correct terminology will also be evaluated.


Constant and regular attendance at lectures and related laboratory exercises is strongly recommended.

Students must provide suitable clothing for excursions and laboratory activities as well as use the personal protective equipment provided for these activities. Other technical and analytical tools necessary for these activities will be provided by the teacher.

Agenda 2030 - Sustainable Development Goals

Agenda 2030 - Sustainable Development Goals
Life on land
Life on land