Building a Local Stratigraphic Column: A research-based assignment for an introductory course
This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process.
This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.
This page first made public: Aug 8, 2014
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
- Rock identification
- Understand the processes of rock formation
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
- gain an understanding of simple field methods and stratigraphic analysis
- conduct research and compile results in a paper and presentation format
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Other skills goals for this activity
Description and Teaching Materials
Activity 1: Map Exploration and Stratigraphic Unit Assignment
The purpose of this activity is to introduce the students to the local geology. It works well as an assignment in a 50 minute lecture setting at the beginning of the semester. Using a geologic map, have the students explore the area using a prepared set of questions. The instructor will follow this with a discussion of the geologic history, alluding to processes and events that will be discussed in lecture during the semester, such as tectonic events and cratonic sequences. Finally, the students will choose the stratigraphic unit on which they wish to become "experts". Worksheet questions will vary with location. A sample worksheet is included below.
Activity 2: Stratigraphic Unit Research
Once each student has chosen their stratigraphic unit, the instructor will give them a handout discussing the written requirement. The student is responsible for finding a local outcrop from a pre-selected list and collecting samples for research. The final report should be a compilation of original data collection and interpretation with a literature review. Report styles can be tailored to individual preferences. A sample is included below.
Activity 3: Field Trip Presentations
A field trip is scheduled for the last lab period for students to present the results of their research. Organize the field trip stops in stratigraphic order so that the class "builds" the stratigraphic section. A summary discussion after the field trip can help tie in the concepts and tectonic processes from lecture into the local setting.
Student Handout for Activity 1 Map Exploration (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 16kB Jul23 14)
Student Handout for Activity 2 Paper and Presentation Guidelines (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 20kB Jul23 14)
Teaching Notes and Tips
This exercise can also be tied into a Sedimentology course. Using the same unit they were assigned in Historical Geology, the students can produce thin sections of their collected rock samples and complete a sedimentological analysis of the unit. This reinforces the work they completed previously and allows the students to build on their previous interpretations.