Cutting Edge > Petrology > Teaching Activities > Igneous Dike and Metamorphic Rock Lab and Field Project

Igneous Dike and Metamorphic Rock Lab and Field Project

Mary Roden-Tice
,
Plattsburgh State University of New York

Summary

This is a semester-long lab and field project to study the petrology, petrography and tectonics of the Mesozoic dikes and intrusives, and Precambrian granulite facies metamorphic rocks from the Champlain Valley, Adirondack region and adjacent Quebec and Vermont. Students must pick one dike and one metamorphic rock to investigate.

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Context

Audience

This activity would be used in an undergraduate (sophomore or junior level) required course in petrology.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

How the activity is situated in the course

This is a semester-long exercise.

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

This activity strengthens a student's ability to make and analyze thin sections and how rocks formed and deformed.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

This activity involves the analysis of data, formulation of hypotheses, and synthesis of ideas.

Other skills goals for this activity

This activity may involve searching the WWW, operating analytical equipment, writing, and an oral presentation.

Description of the activity/assignment

This is a semester-long lab and field project to study the petrology, petrography and tectonics of the Mesozoic dikes and intrusives, and Precambrian granulite facies metamorphic rocks from the Champlain Valley, Adirondack region and adjacent Quebec and Vermont. Students must pick one dike and one metamorphic rock to investigate. A sign-up list is provided and thin section preparation is done during lab time. The results of this project are presented to the class during the final exam period instead of a final comprehensive exam.

This project allows the students to integrate petrography of igneous and metamorphic rocks with regional field relationships and tectonics. The students really enjoy being able to pick their own samples to study and make
their own thin sections. This is done during the winter months. In the spring, we go to all the locations to study the field relationships and relate them to the regional tectonic setting both in the Precambrian and the Cretaceous.

There are four afternoon field labs and one weekend field trip to study the Mesozoic dikes and intrusives and Precambrian metamorphic rocks in New York, Vermont and Quebec.

The requirements for this project are as follows:
  1. Make two usable thin sections.
  2. Write a detailed petrographic description of each sample including a hand specimen description.
  3. Write a detailed field description of each outcrop visited including strike and dip (attitude) if possible.
  4. Sketches or photos are necessary.
  5. Research the available literature on the samples and summarize how the samples fit, in terms of petrography, structural and tectonic setting.
  6. Cite the references used.
  7. Include all of the above written descriptions in a short summary report, 2-3 pages in length.
  8. Present the results to the class during the final exam period.
This year, I made the presentations count for the final exam. It seemed to be a more productive course summary than memorizing and regurgitating material.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students have met the goals of this activity if they demonstrate an understanding of the main goals when giving their oral presentation and submitting their written report.

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