Drainage Basins Field Lab
Cal Poly Pomona University, Geological Sciences Dept.
This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process.
This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.
This page first made public: May 2, 2008
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This field activity and follow-up assignment explores the geomorphology of drainage basins in an active tectonic setting. It introduces basic concepts of drainage basin structure and landscape analysis using morphometric indices.
undergraduate course in geomorphology
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
topographic maps, topographic profiles
How the activity is situated in the course
second exercise in the course (following topo maps and air photos) and first field activity in a series of exercises in the same general field area.
Content/concepts goals for this activity
recognizing form and function of drainage basins, analyzing drainage basin morphology and equilibrium, calculating morphometric indices, interpreting landscape response to tectonics
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
recognizing sensitivity of fluvial networks to landscape forcing (tectonics/climate), interpreting geometric significance of quantitative measurements, synthesizing several data sets to formulate hypotheses on landscape evolution (especially with respect to active tectonics)
Other skills goals for this activity
students must write a report that presents their results and interpretations
Description of the activity/assignment
This exercise begins with a field trip to the San Gabriel Mountain foothills near our campus. Students are given a set of topographic maps and asked to follow our progress as we hike into a small drainage basin in the Claremont Wilderness Park. Through interactive discussion, we explore regional landscape and the geomorphic form, function, and processes of a drainage basin system. Students are expected to complete their assignment on drainage basin analysis during the following week, working from the maps provided. Students are asked to identify the basic landscape units in the San Gabriel Mountain foothill region, delineate a set of drainage basins, and analyze the geomorphic characteristics of these basins using longitudinal profiles and morphometric indices. From this information, they are expected to draw basic conclusions about the geomorphic processes affecting this landscape system, and its relative state of equilibrium.
Designed for a geomorphology course
Determining whether students have met the goals
examine maps, illustrations, and final report. Rate these relative to classmates
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