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Melting Glaciers, Gravels and Groundwater

Paul T. Ryberg
,
Clarion University of Pennsylvania
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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.


This page first made public: Jun 27, 2005

Summary

A spectacular gravel quarry five miles west of Schenectady New York along the Mohawk River is an ideal place to discuss deglaciation history and the development of the ancestral Mohawk Delta building into former Lake Albany, as well as the sedimentary petrology of the outwash gravels. The 3-D exposures of partially-cemented, cross-bedded gravels are representative of the surficial unconfined aquifer system which provides groundwater to many communities in the Schenectady area.

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Context

Audience

An excellent locality for any geology class field trip, especially physical geology, historical geology, stratigraphy, sedimentary petrology, glacial geology, and of course, hydrogeology

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Basic physical geology

How the activity is situated in the course

Field trip locality/stop

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

This field trip locality is an excellent location for the multi-disciplinary examination of glacial geology, deglaciation history, sedimentation/stratigraphy, sedimentary petrology, sedimentary structures, diagenesis and cementation history, and unconfined surficial aquifer characteristics

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Take this as far as you like, depending on the experience and background of your field trip participants.

Other skills goals for this activity

Students could make measurements of thicknesses, measure paleocurrent directions, and/or make sketch maps of the quarry. You decide.

Description of the activity/assignment

A spectacular gravel quarry near Rotterdam Junction, New York along the north shore of the Mohawk River is an ideal place to discuss deglaciation history and the development of the ancestral Mohawk Delta building into former Lake Albany. The sedimentary petrology, sedimentary structures, and cementation history of the outwash gravel deposits can be discussed in detail at the outcrop. The 3-D exposures of partially cemented, cross-bedded gravels are representative of the surficial unconfined aquifer system which provides groundwater to many communities in the Schenectady area. The locality is easily accessible via Route 5 westbound, and is an excellent site for sample collection. I use specimens from this quarry as teaching tools in many of my geology classes.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Evaluation is best derived by responses to questions posed at the outcrop. Instructor may ask for written responses to questions on a field trip handout.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

Winslow, J.D., Stewart, H.G., Jr., Johnston, R.H., and Crain, L.J., 1965,Ground-Water Resources of Eastern Schenectady County, New York, U.S. Geological Survey, State of New York Conservation Department, Water Resources Commission, Bulletin 57, 148 p.