Using data from the Experimental Earthscape Facility (Jurassic tank) to visualize basin-scale stratigraphic architecture
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Other skills goals for this activity
Description of the activity/assignment
Paola,C., Mullin, J., Ellis, C., Mohrig, D., Swenson, J., Parker, G., Hickson, T., Heller, P., Pratson, L., Syvitski, J., Sheets, B., Strong, N., 2001, Experimental Stratigraphy; GSA Today, Geological Society of America, Vol. 11, pp. 4-9.
The students have three weeks to complete the poster that is the final product for this project and, because this is part of a project-based course, I do very little formal lecturing during this project. I act as a facilitator, directing students to readings, Fuzzim basin modeling software, web resources, and, importantly, the resources that help them understand how Jurassic Tank works. In class, students are given a dip section image of stratigraphy produced in Jurassic Tank, their 'outcrop' or 'seismic line'. They then must answer three major questions (each a different component of their poster). First, what real-world depositional environments might the JT deposit effectively emulate? JT deposits can be viewed as an analog for several different, real-world environments (laterally linked and vertically stacked via Walther's Law); on a digital version of their dip section, students label these different environments by outlining their deposits in different colors and they provide images of these environments downloaded from the web or scanned in. Second, what would measured sections look like at three different locations on the cross section and what would a correlation diagram look like? The measured sections should embody the real-world depositional environments that they outlined above (i.e. the facies should be realistic representations of facies encountered in each depositional environment). The stratigraphic sections shouldn't just be coal and sand, but should take into account the actual sedimentary features one might expect to find in the depositional environments that they cross. Third, what parameter was changed to create the stratigraphy in the dip section and how was that parameter changed through time? At this point, students know that one of three rates were changed: rate of base level rise or fall, subsidence rate, or sediment feed rate. They need to choose one and defend their interpretation. The beauty of this exercise is that a defensible interpretation can be made for any of these forcings; this is an important concept to get across in the end.
Determining whether students have met the goals
Download teaching materials and tips
- Activity Description/Assignment (Acrobat (PDF) 752kB Jul3 06)
- Instructors Notes (Acrobat (PDF) 64kB Jul3 06)
- Solution Set (Acrobat (PDF) 17.1MB Jul3 06)
- High-resolution JPEG image of the dip section of the deposit
(Click to enlarge, then right-click to save to your computer)
TIF file ( 8.7MB Jul3 06) of the same image
- Movie of a 'fly-through' of the deposit ( 1.3MB Jul3 06), to give a 3D sense of the whole basin fill. This is a .mov file and it opens with QuickTime.