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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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Geothermal Gradients part of Cutting Edge:Courses:Petrology:Teaching Examples
Cameron Davidson, Carleton College
In this problem set the students use two different equations to calculate a conductive geothermal gradient using a spreadsheet program like Excel. Once they have the geothermal gradient plotted, they are asked to ...

Magma Modification in the central Sierra Nevada Batholith part of Cutting Edge:Courses:Petrology:Teaching Examples
Jennifer Wenner, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
This exercise is centered around a suite of rocks from the Sierra Nevada batholith. The activities are designed to give petrology students a capstone experience for the igneous portion of the upper-level Petrology ...

Radiometric Dating part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Related Links Radioactive Decay Exponential Growth and Decay Peter Kohn - James Madison University Christopher Gellasch - U.S. Military Academy Jim Sochacki - James Madison University Scott Eaton - James Madison University Richard Ford - Weber State University
This activity leads students through derivations of the equations associated with radiometric dating.

Geologic Time Calculations part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Francisco San Juan, Elizabeth City State University
Radiometric age determination using parent/daughter composition and a radiometric decay curve.

The Anatomy of a Rate Law part of Pedagogy in Action:Library:Quantitative Writing:Examples
Barry Bickmore, Brigham Young University
This assignment teaches geochemistry students to explain the mathematical forms of rate laws, and organize paragraphs in their writing assignments properly.

Using Melting Ice to Teach Radiometric Dating part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Developed by Donald Wise, Franklin and Marshall College. Taken from Wise, 1990 . Related Links Radioactive Decay
Students are challenged to a Sherlock Holmes-style mystery in which they construct their own decay curves of melting ice to determine time-zero.

Exploring Radiometric Dating with Dice part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Carla Whittington derived from Baer (1999) Related Links Radioactive Decay ProbabilityExponential Growth and Decay
An activity in which students use dice to explore radioactive decay and dating and make simple calculations.

VEPP: Monitoring the Pu'u 'Ō'ō Eruption of Kīlauea Volcano Using Geochemical, Deformation and Seismicity Timeseries Data part of NAGT:Teaching Resources:Volcano Exploration Project: Pu`u `O`o:Examples
Andrew R. Greene and Michael O. Garcia, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa
Pu'u 'O'o at the end of episode 32 (USGS photograph by J.D. Griggs, 4/22/85, JG5363). This is an exercise that is in development and has not yet been fully tested in the classroom. Please check back ...

Where Did That Quartzite Clast Come From?: A Problem-Based Provenance Study part of Cutting Edge:Sedimentary Geology:Activities
Andrew Hanson, University of Nevada-Las Vegas
Students conducting geochemical provenance studies are forced to deal with obvious things such as manipulating/interpreting geochemical data, but also must deal less obvious factors such as considering earlier ...

Experiments with Ultraviolet Radiation and the Greenhouse Effect part of Cutting Edge:Geochemistry:Activities
Melanie Szulczewski, University of Mary Washington
Students use a solar cooker to model the greenhouse effect. They also develop their own experiments to examine the strength of ultraviolet radiation from the sun with various protective materials.

Homework on Volcanic Rock Chemistry and Binary Phase Diagrams part of Cutting Edge:Courses:Petrology:Teaching Examples
Jane Selverstone, University of New Mexico-Main Campus
This homework has 2 main parts: In the first part, students are given bulk compositions for 6 volcanic rocks and asked to classify them, think about their normative compositions, and given likely tectonic settings ...

Major Element Control Presentation part of Cutting Edge:Courses:Petrology:Teaching Examples
Kurt Hollocher, Union College (Lincoln, NE)
The presentation is an introduction to the control of magma chemical compositions by the fractionation of crystallizing phases. It is followed by a lab exercise where students interpret volcanic rock petrology and ...

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 ...

Mole %, Weight %, Compositions and Projections part of Cutting Edge:Courses:Petrology:Teaching Examples
Dexter Perkins, University of North Dakota-Main Campus
This is an introductory exercise intended to get students thinking about mole vs weight % and about the power and problems of projections.