New Approaches to field-based analysis of stratigraphic sections
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This is a field-based project that is designed to teach students how to interpret processes of deposition and paleoenvironments from outcrop.
Undergraduate required course in sedimentology and stratigraphcy.
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
Basic abilities to identify lithologies and common sedimentary structures. Also, familiarity with the concept of facies models.
How the activity is situated in the course
My students do two of these projects. One is based on ancient fluvial rocks the other on ancient marine rocks. They are exposed to appropriate facies models before or during their projects. These are basically stand-alone projects, but a big part of their grade.
Content/concepts goals for this activity
The project is aimed at providing students with the basic skills of description and interpretation of sedimentary rocks. See the Instructors Notes below.
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
These include formulation of (1) process interpretations based on petrologic aspects of the rocks and analysis of sedimentary structures; (2) paleoenvironmental interpretations; (3) depositional history, and where appropriate, construction of a relative sea level curve.
Other skills goals for this activity
The students are required to do a considerable amount of drafting in ink, create rose diagrams for paleocurrents, and write a complete report.
Description of the activity/assignment
The project involves measurement of stratigraphic sections in the field and completion of a report that summarizes the nature of the section and a variety of interpretations. It includes data collection, separate interpretations of depositional processes and paleoenvironments, use of cut slabs and thin sections, and the use of mock expert "consulting" sessions with groups of students.
Determining whether students have met the goals
I grade the reports based on accuracy and completeness of their observations, ability to interpret sedimentary structures and textures, reasoning skills, and quality of the final product (drafting, writing skills, etcetera).More information about assessment tools and techniques.
Download teaching materials and tips
- Activity Description/Assignment (Microsoft Word 38kB Jun15 06)
- Instructors Notes (Microsoft Word 27kB Jun15 06)
- Paleocurrent data provided to students (Microsoft Word 32kB Jun15 06)
- Instructions to students for their consulting sessions (Microsoft Word 37kB Jun15 06)
- Example of measured section (Acrobat (PDF) 181kB Jun15 06)
- Example of measured section (Acrobat (PDF) 196kB Jun15 06)
- Example of measured section (Acrobat (PDF) 113kB Jun15 06)