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Geochemistry Activities

Stream sampling in the Animas River
USGS photo

This collection of activities can be used in geochemistry courses. The collection includes lab exercises, classroom activities, problem sets and more. The materials below are sorted by topic, and may be listed under more than one topic. Help us expand the collection by contributing your favorite teaching activity.


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Major Element Fractionation During Differentiation part of Cutting Edge:Courses:Petrology:Teaching Examples
Elizabeth King
This problem set introduces some of the more advanced uses of Excel to not only calculate how the chemistry of a magma changes with crystallization but also to see how the liquidus assemblage can drastically change ...

Learning Thermodynamics and Using Spreadsheets part of Cutting Edge:Courses:Petrology:Teaching Examples
Sumit Chakraborty and Somnath Dasgupta
These files contain a set of three Excel files to balance mineral reactions, to explore variation of thermodynamic properties as a function of P, T and composition and to explore stability of different mineral ...

Origins of Mafic Enclaves in the Dinkey Creek Pluton, Central Sierra Nevada Batholith, California part of Cutting Edge:Courses:Petrology:Teaching Examples
Jade Star Lackey, Pomona College;
In this lab exercise, students use and substantial spreadsheet of major, minor and trace element data compiled from studies of the Dinkey Creek pluton (Sierra Nevada batholith) and its microgranular mafic enclaves. ...

Calculating Rb-Sr Isochrons part of Cutting Edge:Courses:Petrology:Teaching Examples
Andy Barth, IUPUI
This is a spreadsheet that I use in petrology to walk students through calculating Rb-Sr isochrons and talking about isotope heterogeneity and sampling at various scales. The example exercise is the Tuolumne ...

Crystallization-Differentiation of Basaltic Magma part of Activities
Kent Ratajeski, University of Kentucky
In this exercise, students use geochemical data from volcanic glasses and minerals in lavas and drill cores from the solidified Kilauea Iki lava lake to learn about the petrologic processes related to the eruption ...

Introduction to Equilibrium Thermodynamics: Salt Dissolution part of Activities
Andrew Knudsen, Lawrence University;
Students dissolve simple salts, halite and sylvite, in water at different temperatures and explore the thermodynamics of this simple system to build a foundation for further studies.

Analysis of Hydrochemical Data part of Cutting Edge:Courses:Hydrogeology:Hydrogeology, Soils, Geochemistry 2013:Activities
Joseph Asante, Tennessee Technological University
In this activity students examine groundwater flow path based on hydraulic head data/ potentiometric surface and spatial variation of groundwater chemistry. Students analyze the data using AquaChem and Phreeqc ...

Introduction to urban watershed geochemistry part of Cutting Edge:Courses:Hydrogeology:Hydrogeology, Soils, Geochemistry 2013:Activities
Vijay Vulava, College of Charleston
The main goal of this multi-part field and lab exercise is to introduce students to practical aspects of soil and water geochemistry. Some of the analyses for this lab are conducted in the field using field ...

Serpentinite in Subduction Zones: How do we find it, and how common is it? part of MARGINS Data in the Classroom:MARGINS Mini-Lessons
Jeff Ryan
A mineralogical, petrological, and geophysical exploration of the role of serpentinite in subduction zones, as highlighted in the two NSF-MARGINS Subduction Factory focus sites.

Crystal Structures as Geobarometers part of Cutting Edge:Courses:Mineralogy:Activities
Kent Ratajeski, University of Kentucky
In this exercise, designed for undergraduate igneous petrology or advanced mineralogy courses, students download a series of crystal structures from the American Mineralogist Crystal Structure Database to explore ...

Copper Extraction Demonstration Tutorial part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Interactive Lecture Demonstrations:Examples
Summary This demonstration uses sulfuric acid and crushed copper ore (malachite) to produce a solution of copper sulfate and carbonic acid in a beaker. When a freshly sanded nail is dropped into the copper sulfate ...

Water Quality-Total Dissolved Solids part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Teaching with Data:Examples
Bob Mackay, Clark College
Students use a microcomputer connected to a conductivity probe to measure the total dissolved solids in local area water samples. -

What can zircons tell us about the Early Earth? part of Cutting Edge:Topics:Early Earth:Activities
Aaron Cavosie, University of Puerto Rico; Julie Baldwin, University of Montana-Missoula, The; Darrell Henry, Louisiana State University
This image shows an array of Jack Hill zircons arranged on a piece of tape prior to casting in epoxy. Details Students create U-Pb concordia plots in Excel to experience the methods used to date the worlds oldest ...

Geochemistry - Soils Analysis part of Cutting Edge:Early Career:Previous Workshops:Workshop 2010:Teaching Activities
Cynthia Fadem, Earlham College
Students conduct a geochemical analysis of a soil. Choice of activity and group-size allows students to play to their strengths. Each group chooses one of the following analyses: conductivity buffer solution, ...

Using geochemical proxies to trace sediment sources part of MARGINS Data in the Classroom:MARGINS Mini-Lessons
Karin Block, CUNY City College; Annika Johansson, Columbia University in the City of New York
This lecture segments can be used in a mid- to upper-level course to introduce geochemical proxies commonly applied to weathering and sedimentation.