Where Did That Quartzite Clast Come From?: A Problem-Based Provenance Study
University of Nevada Las VegasAuthor Profile
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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 tectonic configurations. This project was developed as a semester-long research project that employed microprobe trace element geochemistry and cathodoluminescence in an undergraduate Sed/Strat class. Incorporating this research into our undergraduate class resulted in two significant things that had been missing in previous classes: true excitement amongst the students related to research, and multiple opportunities for assessing and improving students' writing skills.
This project was developed for a Junior-Senior level undergraduate sed/strat class.
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
Students are best prepared for this project if they have previously taken geochemistry, petrology, and statistics classes.
How the activity is situated in the course
This was developed as a semester long project. Activities are carried out during the lab period at different times during the semester as outlined in one of the attached documents.
Content/concepts goals for this activity
This project utilizes trace-element geochemistry to address provenance of quartz-rich clasts and stratigraphic units that may have been their source.
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Students formulate hypotheses, and carry out a research project whereby they process, manipulate, and interpret geochemical data.
Other skills goals for this activity
Students write Introductions, Geologic Backgrounds, Methods, Results and Discussion, Conclusions, and References as the semester progresses. They learn how to conduct a literature search, how to prep rock samples for microprobe analyses, how to manipulate and interpret data, how to make a group poster, and how to give an oral presentation.
Description of the activity/assignment
For this project, students read Goetze and Lewis (1994) paper on trace element geochemistry of quartz-rich sandstones. They then select one of six possible stratigraphic units, find relevant literature related to their unit, and formulate sampling strategies. In class they are provided microprobe geochemical and cathodoluminescence data and manipulate/interpret it in order to reach conclusions. They answer questions regarding both the provenance of clasts from a young conglomerate as well as commenting on the validity of the data. Students learn how to manipulate and analyze data, how to make a scientific poster, and how to prepare and give an oral presentation
Determining whether students have met the goals
Throughout the semester students hand in written assignments which are reviewed and students are required to revise as needed. Students' oral presentations are also graded as is their participation in constructing the poster.More information about assessment tools and techniques.
Download teaching materials and tips
- Activity Description/Assignment (Microsoft Word 42kB Jun27 06)
- Instructors Notes (Microsoft Word 26kB Jun27 06)
- Solution Set (Excel 96kB Jun27 06)
- Microprobe data for students (Excel 41kB Jun27 06)
- Cathodoluminescence images (Acrobat (PDF) 11.8MB Jun27 06)
- Project schedule (Microsoft Word 26kB Jun27 06)
Goetze, J., and Lewis, R., 1994, Distribution of REE and trace elements in size and mineral fractions of high-purity quartz sands: Chemical Geology, v. 114, p.43-57.