Introductory Geology and Soil Formation


  2. Course aim

To provide students with basic knowledge and skills in identification and classification of minerals, rocks and soils based on their mode of formation and properties.

  • Course expected learning outcome(s)

By the end of the course students should be able to:

  • Identify and analyse various rock forming minerals of agricultural importance and characterize them in terms of their physical and chemical properties
  • Classify major rock types in terms of their mineralogical composition and mode of formation
  • Demonstrate the importance of rocks and minerals in agriculture and soil formation
  • Describe soil morphological properties following the FAO Guidelines for soil profile description
  • Identify different soil types in the field based on their morphological properties
  • Characterize different soil types in the field and relate them to soil forming processes as controlled by factors of soil formation
  1. Course status: Core
  2. Credit rating 10 credits
  3. Total hours s Spent: 100 hours

                                  Lectures:                                   40 hours

                                     Seminars/ Tutorials:                  0 hours

                                 Assignments:                              10 hours

                                 Independent study:                    10 hours

                                 Practical:                                    40 hours

  • Course Content

The composition of the Earth’s crust, mantle and core. Identification and classification of common rock forming minerals. Types and modes of formation of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. Rocks and minerals of agricultural importance and their geographical occurrence in Tanzania. Interpretation of geological maps for agricultural applications. Weathering: physical, chemical and biological. Development of soil from rocks. Soil forming processes (pedogenesis), factors of soil formation; soil profile, soil profile description, description of soil morphological properties.

Practical skills

  • Identification and analysis of minerals and rocks of agricultural importance,
  • Interpretation of geological maps
  • Field identification of different soil types based on the soil morphological properties,
  • Soil profile description
  • Relate soil morphological characteristics with land use potential and constraints
  • Teaching and learning activities
  • The teaching methods to be used are divided into three broad categories - mass-instruction methods, student-centered learning methods based on individualized study, and group-learning methods.
  • Mass-instruction techniques: including but not limited to lectures and similar expository techniques like seminars and workshops; and mass practical work;
  • Individualized-learning techniques: including directed study of material in textbooks, paper-based self-study materials, self-instruction via mediated materials, computer-based learning and multimedia, individual assignments, projects, and individual practical work;
  • Group-learning techniques: including buzz sessions and similar small-group activities; class discussions, seminars, group tutorials; participative exercises of the game/simulation/case study type; mediated feedback/discussion sessions; group projects and self-help groups.
  1. Assessment Methods

Formative and summative assessments for learners shall be used.

  • Assignments, Seminar presentations, Seminar reports, Practical reports, Practical tests, Quizzes, Theory tests, University Exam
  1. Reading list

Brady, N.C. and Weil, R.R. (2008). The Nature and Properties of Soils.13thEd.. Prentice-Hall International, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 07458 USA

Munsell Soil Colour Charts (1994). Revised edition. GretagMacberth, New Windsor, New York

Berry, L.G, Mason, B. and Dietrich, R.V. (2001). Mineralogy: Concepts, Descriptions and Determinations.2ndEd.CBS Publishers and Distributors. New Delhi, India.

Deer, W.A., Howie, R.A. and Zussman, J. (1992). An Introduction to the Rock-Forming Minerals. Pearson Prentice Hall.

FAO (1990). Guidelines for Soil Profile Description. 3rd Edition (revised), FAO Rome

Schaetzl, R. and Anderson, S. (2005). Soils: Genesis and Geomorphology. Cambridge University Press. 817pp.