SGL-33806 The 4th Dimension in Earth Sciences


Studiepunten 6.00

Group work20
Excursion (one day)8
Course coordinator(s)prof. dr. J Wallinga
Lecturer(s)dr. JM Schoorl
prof. dr. J Wallinga
dr. A Makaske
dr. UGW Sass-Klaassen
Examiner(s)prof. dr. J Wallinga

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

SGL-22306  Geology, Soils and Landscapes of the Northwest European lowlands, or comparable.

Continuation courses:

SGL theses: SGL-80418; SGL80421 Thesis Soil Geography and Landscape; SGL-80424 MSc Thesis Soil Geography and Landscape, etc.


The 4th dimension course offers an in-depth training in quantitative reconstruction techniques for landscape dynamics, including absolute dating methods. The course builds on the philosophy that the past is the key to the future; quantitative understanding of processes that form and alter soils and landscapes is needed to develop sustainable landscape management approaches and measures, e.g. through nature based solutions approaches.
After introductory lectures, students will gain experience with different quantitative dating techniques including dendrochronology, radiocarbon, Ar/Ar-dating and luminescence dating, through exercises with real world datasets. In a next step, the relative importance of natural and human forcing factors for landscape evolution will be discussed. Drift sand activity in the Netherlands will provide a vivid example, which will be discussed both in the classroom, during a field excursion and with a group project. During the latter students deepen their skills and knowledge through: 1) work in the darkroom laboratory of the Netherlands Centre for Luminescence dating, to gather and analyze their own luminescence data, 2) interpret the results to reconstruct drift sand activity and landscape evolution of sandy landscapes, and 3) discuss the relevance of the results with regard to landscape-scale management efforts.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- understand and apply different reconstruction and geochronological methods as well as building with nature concepts;
- analyse quantitative geochronological data sets;
- evaluate possibilities and limitations of different geochronological methods and reliability of resulting reconstructions;
- create an original interpretation to untangle past and predict future landscape evolution.


- lectures;
- practicals;
- excursion;
- group work.


written open-book examination in the last week of the course.


A range of scientific (review) papers, partly from the ‘Encyclopedia of Scientific Dating Methods’.

Keuze voor: MEEEarth and EnvironmentMScD: Spec. D - Soil Geography and Earth Surface Dynamics3WD
Keuze voor: WUEABBSc Minor Earth and Biosphere3WD