The spring semester 2021 will take place online until further notice. Exceptions: Courses that can only be carried out with on-site presence. Please note the information provided by the lecturers.

Search result: Catalogue data in Spring Semester 2016

Earth Sciences Master Information
Courses can be chosen from the complete offerings of the ETH Zurich and University of Zurich (according to prior agreement with the MSc Committee).
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102-0448-00LGroundwater IIW6 credits4GM. Willmann
AbstractThe course is based on the course 'Groundwater I' and is a prerequisite for further applications of groundwater flow and contaminant transport models.
ObjectiveThe course should enable students to understand and apply methods and tools for groundwater flow and transport modelling.

the student should be able to
a) formulate practical flow and contaminant transport problems.

b) solve steady-state and transient flow and transport problems in 2 and 3 spatial dimensions using numerical codes based on the finite difference method and the finite element methods.

c) solve simple inverse flow problems for parameter estimation given measurements.

d) assess simple multiphase flow problems.

e) assess spatial variability of parameters and use of stochastic techniques in this task.

f) solve simple flow problems affected by fluid density.

g) assess simple coupled reactive transport problems.
ContentIntroduction and basic flow and contaminant transport equation.

Numerical solution of the 3D flow equation using the finite difference method.

Numerical solution to the flow equation using the finite element equation

Numerical solution to the transport equation using the finite difference method.

Numerical solution to the transport equation using the method of characteristics and the random walk method.

Numerical solution to the transport equation: Case studies.

Two-phase flow and Unsaturated flow problems.

Modelling of flow problems affected by fluid density.

Spatial variability of parameters and its geostatistical representation.

Geostatistics and stochastic modelling.

Reactive transport modelling.
Lecture notesHandouts
Literature- J. Bear, Hydraulics of Groundwater, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1979
- P.A. Domenico, F.W. Schwartz, Physical and Chemical Hydrogeology, J. Wilson & Sons, New York, 1990

- Chiang und Kinzelbach, 3-D Groundwater Modeling with PMWIN. Springer, 2001.

- G. de Marsily, Quantitative Hydrogeology, Academic Press, 1986

- W. Kinzelbach und R. Rausch: Grundwassermodellierung, Eine Einführung mit Uebungen Gebrüder Bornträger, Berlin, 1995, ISBN 3-443-01032-6

- F. Stauffer: Strömungsprozesse im Grundwasser, Konzepte und Modelle vdf, 1998, ISBN 3-7281-2641-1
Prerequisites / NoticeThe exercises of the course are organized as a computer lab (one lesson per week). The computer lab will provide hands-on experience with groundwater modelling.
651-2600-01LGeography of Switzerland (University of Zurich)
No enrolment to this course at ETH Zurich. Book the corresponding module directly at UZH.
UZH Module Code: GEO126

Mind the enrolment deadlines at UZH:
W3 credits2VUniversity lecturers
AbstractIntroduction to the geography of Switzerland from a social and political scientific perspective.
Objective- Sie verstehen die sozialen, politischen und kulturellen Eigenheiten
der Schweiz in ihrer räumlichen Ausprägung.
- Sie haben einen Einblick in die räumliche Dynamik der Schweiz in Bezug auf Urbanisierung, Mobilität, Migration und kennen die Möglichkeiten und Grenzen einer planvollen Steuerung.
ContentAus dem Inhalt:
* Stadt-Land-Gegensatz, Urbanisierung
* Kulturelle Spannungsfelder: Sprache, Konfession usw.
* Regionale Disparitäten, Regionalismus
* Nationale Identität, Schweiz in Europa
* Föderalismus und Direktdemokratie
* Mobilität und Migration
* Segregation und Selbstselektion
* Räumliche Entwicklung und Planung
LiteratureOdermatt, André und Wachter, Daniel (2004): Schweiz – eine moderne Geographie. 3. Auflage. NZZ-Verlag, Zürich. Fr. 52.-
651-4040-00LAlpine Field Course Restricted registration - show details
Only for Earth Sciences MSc.

Number of participants limited to 25.
W4 credits4PE. Reusser, P. Brack, P. Ulmer
AbstractExtended field excursion (duration 7 days) adressing different topics dependent on the localities visited (varies from year to year).
ObjectiveUnderstanding the tectonics and the geological history of the Alps.
Content2013: Cross-section through the Alps from the Bernese Oberland to Torino, via Lötschberg, Zermatt, Val d'Aosta.
Lecture notesNo script.
Prerequisites / NoticeMSc students only. Strenuous walks.
651-4096-02LInverse Theory for Geophysics II: Applications
Prerequisites: The successful completion of 651-4096-00L Inverse Theory for Geophysics I: Basics is mandatory.
W3 credits2GH. Maurer, C. Böhm, A. Fichtner, E. Manukyan
AbstractThis course offers the possibility to practice geophysical inversion techniques. For that purpose, small projects from various application areas will be presented, and the students will have the opportunity to analyze synthetic or observed data with commercial software, or they can establish their own algorithms using Matlab template scripts.
ObjectiveAfter this course the students should be prepared to analyze (geo)physical data. This includes experimental design considerations, choice of appropriate inversion tools, inclusion of a priori constraints, handling of data errors and quantitative estimation of the inversion results.
Content- Earthquake location
- Geoelectrical tomography
- Experimental design
- Adjoint methods
- Seismic full waveform inversions
Lecture notesPresentation slides and some background material will be provided.
Prerequisites / NoticeThis course is offered as a half-semester course during the second part of the semester
651-4219-00LThe Mineralogy of Steelmaking
Does not take place this semester.
W1 credit1V
AbstractIron is utilised by mankind since thousands of years and the present day world wide production of about 1.5 billon tons of steel makes the latter to one of the most important and irreplaceable industrial products. This course will communicate the relevant solid-liquid-vapor reactions along the production route of an integrated steel plant as an example for applied mineralogy.
ObjectiveThis course will put emphasis on applied mineralogy and show how concepts, familiar to Earth scientists, are being applied to industrial processes.
ContentThe course will cover the following topics:
- Pre-blast furnace processing of ores, coals and additives
- Melting and reduction in the blast furnace
- The "Basic Oxygen Furnace": de-carburisation, and the conversion from "hot metal" towards steel
- Secondary steelmaking: de-oxidation and non-metallic inclusions
- By-products: Chemistry, properties and applications of blast furnace and secondary steelmaking slags
- Chemistry and properties of refractory materials
- The role of silicate liquids during casting steel
Prerequisites / Notice4 day block-course with lectures between 10-12h and 13-15h, with a total of 16 hours.
651-5202-00LAnalytical Solutions for Deformation Structures
Does not take place this semester.
W1 credit2G
AbstractThe course consists of theoretical lectures (1/3) and practical exercises (2/3). In the lectures the concepts of continuum mechanics, dimensional analysis and analytical solutions for the equations of continuum mechanics will be discussed and explained. Both deformations of solids and fluids will be discussed.
ObjectiveThe main aim is that the participants learn how to derive and apply analytical solutions of continuum mechanics to quantify deformation processes which generated geological structures such as faults, fractures, nappes, shear zones, boudins or folds.
Another aim is that the participants learn the application of dimensional analysis to analytical solutions in order to reduce the number of model parameters and to make the solutions generally valid.
ContentFriction at the base of thrust sheets (the overthrust paradox and application to Glarus thrust).
Solutions for elastic deformations using Airy stress function
- 2D stress field in an elastic thrust block. Application to listric faults.
- 2D stress field in an elastic plate with spherical hole. Application to fracture propagation.
Solutions for viscous deformations
- 1D velocity profile across ductile shear zones with temperature dependent viscosity. Application to fold nappes.
- Nonlinear solution for viscous necking. Application to pinch-and-swell and slab detachment.
- Nonlinear solution for high amplitude folding. Application to strain and competence contrast estimation from fold shapes.
Prerequisites / NoticeBasic knowledge of tectonics and structural geology and basic experience with MATLAB is advantageous.
Exercises will be mainly done with computers using the software MATLAB and Maple but some exercises are done using pencil and paper.
651-5104-00LDeep Electromagnetic Studies of the Earth
Prerequisite: Successful completion of Mathematical Methods (651-4130-00L) required.
W3 credits2GA. Kuvshinov, A. Grayver
AbstractThe course will guide students in learning about deep electromagnetic (EM) studies of the Earth. These studies focus on analysis and interpretation of long-period time-varying EM field observed at Earth's surface, at sea bottom and at satellite altitudes with ultimate goal to recover electrical conductivity distributions in Earth's interior.
ObjectiveGoverning equations for these studies are Maxwell's equations and special attention in this course will be paid to the solution of Maxwell's equations in Earth's models with one-dimensional (1-D) and three-dimensional (3-D) conductivity distributions. In addition the basics of inverse problem solutions - as applied to deep EM studies - will be discussed.
ContentIntroduction to deep electromagnetic (EM) studies of Earth (governing equations, conductivity models under consideration, summary of the main EM sounding methods, etc.); basics of magnetotelluric (MT) and geomagnetic deep sounding (GDS) methods; solution of Maxwell's equations in fundamental (layered) Earth's models in Cartesian and spherical geometries; solution of Maxwell's equations - based on integral equation approach - in Earth's models with 3-D conductivity distribution (theory and efficient numerical implementation); solution of EM inverse problems (inverse problem formulation, regularization of the inverse solution, discussion on optimization methods and adjoint approach); basics of data processing; examples of application (use of MT to detect geothermal reservoirs; use of GDS to constrain mantle conductivity; 3-D EM modellings to predict space weather hazards, etc.)
651-1617-00LGeophysical Fluid Dynamics and Numerical Modelling Seminar Information Z Dr0 credits1SP. Tackley, T. Gerya, D. A. May
651-4044-01LGeomicrobiology and Biogeochemistry Lab Practical Information Restricted registration - show details
Limited number of participants 10

Prerequisites: Excursions "Geomicrobiology and Biogeochemistry Field Course" (651-4044-02L). The attendance of "Geomicrobiology and Biogeochemistry" (651-4044-00L) or "Organic Geochemistry and the Global Carbon Cycle" (651-4004-00L) is recommended but not mandatory.
W2 credits2PT. I. Eglinton, C. Vasconcelos
1. Analysis of organic molecules in extracts from soils of different ages in glacial flood fields, in altitudinal gradients and from different bedrocks, and from sediments and living biofilms in high altitude aquatic ecosystems, mineral springs and ice.
2. Analysis of matrix components of the ecosystems: dissolved compounds, minerals, clays, trace components etc.
ObjectiveThe laboratory module supplements the field trip section. 10 places are reserved for students who also signed up for the field course (651-4044-02L)
1. Preparing field work based on research hypotheses.
2. Designing field sampling strategies, proper sampling collection and preservation.
3. Documenting environmental conditions and observations at the sampling sites.
4. Extracting organic molecules from environmental samples with different matrixes.
5. Working under clean conditions and handling samples without contaminating them.
ContentThis Lab Practical, together with the corresponding Field Trips form part of a continuing "Course Research" unit.
During the field section in the Eastern Alps, we will visit a number of sites that offer
- different bedrocks (dolomite, gneiss, shale, serpentinite, radiolarite, mine tailings) and will study the organics in the soils that formed on them.
- aquatic ecosystems (lakes, rivers, springs) at high altitudes. Organics from pioneering colonizer organisms in lakes formed during the recent retreat of glaciers.
- sediments recently deposited in lakes and flood planes as well as shales that date back to the mesozoic.
The Lab Practical follows immediately after the field work.
Lecture notesProcedures for sampling, extraction and analyses will be designed on a special preparation day during the field trips.
LiteratureField guides and details about the course logistics will become available to enrolled students on OLAT via Details under
Instructions will be sent in the course of the spring semester to participants who are enrolled for this practical.
Prerequisites / NoticeThe laboratory module (651-4044-01L) takes place from September 5 to September 9. It supplements the "Geomicrobiology and Biogeochemistry Field Course" (651-4044-02L). Samples collected in the field will be analyzed in the labs of the Biogeosciences and Geomicrobiology Groups immediately after the field trips. Students who sign up for both, the field and the lab component, are given priority. There are 10 places available in the lab. The lab section requires participation on the field trips. It is possible, however, to participate in the field section only.
One of the lecture courses "651-4004-00L Organic Geochemistry and the Global Carbon Cycle" or "651-4044-00L Geomicrobiology and Biogeochemistry, under" (both offered during the spring semester) is a mandatory prerequisite for the lab section of the combined Field-Lab Course. They are not mandatory, but recommended for optimally profiting of the contents of the field section.
651-4068-00LEngineering Geology Seminar Information W2 credits2SS. Löw, M. Perras
AbstractThe seminar includes external and internal lectures on ongoing research topics and the presentation and defence of own MSc thesis research results. In addition students have the opportunity to make new contacts with researchers and practitioners, and get an understanding of the international engineering geology community.
ObjectiveThe students get an insight into selected research & development topics in engineering geology, hydrogeology and geothermics. The students present and discuss their MSc thesis research results topic with a larger scientific audience.
ContentThis seminar includes internal and guest lectures related to engineering geology and hydrogeology research topics and presentations of the MSc thesis project results. Students have to attend 8 guest lectures in total during semester 2 and/or 4 and present and defend their own research results in semester 4. They keep a record of the attended guest lectures (using a prepared confirmation sheet).
Lecture notesThe course offers guidelines how to orally present scientific results.
Prerequisites / NoticeCompleted and accepted research plan. Significant results of own MSc thesis work.
651-1615-00LColloqium Geophysics Information W1 credit1KN. Houlié
AbstractThis colloquium comprises geophysical research presentations by invited leading scientists from Europe and overseas, advanced ETH Ph.D. students, new and established ETH scientists with specific new work to be shared with the institute. Topics cover the field of geophysics and related disciplines, to be delivered at the level of a well-informed M.Sc. graduate/early Ph.D. student.
ObjectiveAttendants of this colloquium obtain a broad overview over active and frontier research areas in geophysics as well as opened questions. Invited speakers typically present recent work: Attendants following this colloquium for multiple terms will thus be able to trace new research directions, trends, potentially diminishing research areas, controversies and resolutions thereof, and thus build a solid overview of state and direction of geophysical research. Moreover, the diverse content and delivery style shall help attendants in gaining experience in how to successfully present research results.
651-4088-02LPhysical Geography II (University of Zürich)
No enrolment to this course at ETH Zurich. Book the corresponding module directly at UZH.
UZH Module Code: GEO121

Mind the enrolment deadlines at UZH:
W5 credits2V + 4U + 2PUniversity lecturers
ObjectiveSolide Grundkenntnisse in den Bereichen Atmosphäre und Klima sowie
651-1180-00LResearch Seminar Structural Geology and Tectonics Information Z0 credits1SM. Frehner, N. Mancktelow
AbstractA seminar series with both invited speakers from both inside and outside the ETH.
ObjectiveThe seminar series provides an opportunity to convey the latest research results to students and staff.
ContentInformal seminars with both internal and external speakers on current topics in Structural Geology, Tectonics and Rock Physics. The current program is available at:
651-4082-00LFluids and Mineral DepositsW2 credits1SC. A. Heinrich, T. Driesner, A. Quadt Wykradt-Hüchtenbruck, J. P. Weis
AbstractPresentations and literature discussions on current reserch topics in fluid processes and mineral deposit research.
ObjectiveProvide a deeper understanding in the selected research fields on hydrothermal processes and ore deposit formation. This is achieved by literature work as well as discussions of current BSc, MSc and PhD projects, including the MSc Thesis Defense
ContentTopics of hydrothermal geochemistry, fluid flow and ore formation
651-4144-00LIntroduction to Finite Element Modelling in Geosciences Restricted registration - show details W2 credits3GM. Frehner, D. A. May
AbstractIntroduction to programming the finite element method in 1D and 2D.
ObjectiveTopics covered include thermal diffusion, elasticity, stokes flow, and isoparametric elements. The focus is on hands-on-programming, and you will learn how to write FEM codes starting with an empty MATLAB script.
Prerequisite: good knowledge of MATLAB, linear algebra, and knowledge of programming the finite difference method.
ContentTopics covered include thermal diffusion, elasticity, stokes flow, and isoparametric elements. The focus is on hands-on-programming, and you will learn how to write FEM codes starting with an empty MATLAB script.
Lecture notesThe script will be handed out to the students and made available online.
LiteratureThere is no mandatory literature. Some recommended literature will be discussed and made available during the course.
Prerequisites / NoticeGood knowledge of MATLAB, linear algebra, and knowledge of programming the finite difference method.

The following courses are strongly recommended before attending this course:
651-4241-00L Numerical Modelling I and II: Theory and Applications
651-4007-00L Continuum Mechanics
651-4003-00L Numerical Modelling of Rock Deformation
651-4156-00LAdvanced Numerical Techniques for Modelling of Earth SystemsW2 credits3GY. Podladchikov
AbstractWe will be practicing several advanced numerical techniques that are usually beyond the scope of introductory modeling courses but are of extreme importance for cutting edge numerical applications. Learning by doing exercises with MATLAB and MAPLE is the course philosophy. No lecturing, no reading, no hand derivation, programming practice only.
ObjectiveThe techniques include Maple derivations of the thermodynamically consistent closed system of equations for multiphase and multicomponent transport coupled to deformation, conservative numerical schemes for highly nonlinear processes (blow-up, shock and solitary waves, finite support solutions) and ways to handle mesh locking for coupled systems.
651-4904-00LDigital Topography and Geomorphology Practical
Does not take place this semester.
W2 credits2G
AbstractThe abundance of data that describes the shape and the physical properties of the Earth's surface provides us with the opportunity to understand the interactions between the solid Earth and the atmosphere. It allows to detect and quantify the past and active deformation preserved by the landscape.
ObjectiveThis course will teach the basic methods available through GIS tools, and spatially-based computations based on standard, publicly available data. We will also learn about conversions beween standard formats, visualization methods, data extraction and standard geomorphic analyses.
ContentTopographic data, as well as satellite and aerial photography became widely available during the last decade and are now extremely common in virtually any field of Earth Sciences. This data allows to detect and quantify the past and active deformation preserved by the landscape. This includes (but is not limited to) the surface expression of active faults, the deformation of drainage networks under tectonic strain and the role of fractures in erosion and its topographic expression.
Prerequisites / NoticeThe course will be based on ArcGIS and GlobalMapper softwares.
651-4121-00LIntroduction to Carthography and Geovisualisualisation (University of Zurich)
No enrolment to this course at ETH Zurich. Book the corresponding module directly at UZH.
UZH Module Code: GEO975
Mind the enrolment deadlines at UZH:
W3 credits2GUniversity lecturers
860-0015-00LSupply and Responsible Use of Mineral Resources IW3 credits2GC. A. Heinrich, L. Bretschger, F. Brugger, S. Hellweg, B. Wehrli
AbstractStudents critically assess the economic, social, political, and environmental implications of extracting and using energy resources, metals, and bulk materials along the mineral resource cycle for society. They explore various decision-making tools that support policies and guidelines pertaining to mineral resources, and gain insight into different perspectives from government, industry, and NGOs.
ObjectiveStudents will be able to:
- Explain basic concepts applied in resource economics, economic geology, extraction, processing and recycling technologies, environmental and health impact assessments, resource governance, and secondary materials.
- Evaluate the policies and guidelines pertaining to mineral resource extraction.
- Examine decision-making tools for mineral resource related projects.
- Engage constructively with key actors from governmental organizations, mining and trading companies, and NGOs, dealing with issues along the mineral resource cycle.
Prerequisites / NoticeSeven week course offered from February 23rd to April 14th.
This course is prerequisite for the case study module course
860-0016-00 Supply and Responsible Use of Mineral Resources II.
Bachelor of Science or Engineering, and enrolled in a Master's or PhD program at ETH Zurich.
860-0016-00LSupply and Responsible Use of Mineral Resources II Information Restricted registration - show details
Number of participants limited to 12.

W3 credits2UB. Wehrli, F. Brugger, C. A. Heinrich, N. Lefebvre, J. Mertens
AbstractStudents integrate their knowledge of mineral resources and technical skills to frame and investigate a commodity-specific challenge faced by countries involved in resource extraction. By own research they evaluate possible policy-relevant solutions, engaging in interdisciplinary teams coached by tutors and experts from natural social and engineering sciences.
ObjectiveStudents will be able to:
- Integrate, and extend by own research, their knowledge of mineral resources from course 860-0015-00, in a solution-oriented team with mixed expertise
- Apply their problem solving, and analytical skills to critically assess, and define a complex, real-world mineral resource problem, and propose possible solutions.
- Summarize and synthesize published literature and expert knowledge, evaluate decision-making tools, and policies applied to mineral resources.
- Document and communicate the findings in concise group presentations and a report.
Lecture notesURL:
Prerequisites / NoticePrerequisite is 860-0015-00 Supply and Responsible Use of Mineral Resources I. Limited to 12 participants, and the lecturers will compose two teams of mixed background and expertise. First priority will be given to students enrolled in the Master of Science, Technology, and Policy Program. These students must confirm their participation by February 8th by registration through MyStudies. Other graduate students interested in enrolling will be placed onto a waiting list when registering through MyStudies. In addition, these students should please send an e-mail to Prof. Heinrich ( explaining their motivation in a few sentences.
651-2001-00LSemester Research Project Restricted registration - show details W3 credits6ALecturers
AbstractSmall individual research project done by a student and supervised by a Professor/Dozent/Oberassistent of D-ERDW. The content of each project is unique and is defined by the supervisor. The project consists of research activity aimed at producing new scientific results and/or data. Short scientific report/paper is written by the student, which serves as a basis for project grading.
Objective- To learn logic, content and methodology of research aimed at producing new scientific results and/or data.
- To familiarize with research procedures in a selected scientific area.
- To obtain experience in writing scientific reports/papers.
- To get prepared for a MSc project.
ContentThe content of each project is unique. This content is defined by the supervisor and discussed with the student, who agrees to take the project. The project should mainly consist of research activity aimed at producing new scientific results and/or data and cannot be limited to a literature work. Short scientific report is written by the student at the end of the project, which serves as a basis for the project grading.
Prerequisites / NoticeGrading criteria for the Semester project is similar to these for an MSc project according to the assessment criteria of the MSc Project Proposal.
651-1091-00LColloquium Department Earth SciencesZ0 credits2KM. W. Schmidt
AbstractInvited speakers from the entire range of Earth Sciences.
ObjectiveSelected themes in sedimentology, tectonics, paläontology, geophysics, mineralogy, paleoclimate and engineering geology on a regional and global scale.
ContentAccording to variable program.
Lecture notesNo
Prerequisites / NoticeNote: Geologisches Kolloquium 651-1091-01 K: The presentations are held in German. Membership of the Geological Society in Zurich is not required.
651-3880-00LField Trip Namibia Restricted registration - show details
Maximum 24 places, selection will be on the basis of a two paragraph justification that must be submitted before February 26, 2016 to The reports will be assessed rapidly and candidates will be notified shortly after the assessment.

Additional registration on
W3 credits6PT. Driesner, N. Mancktelow