Describe and Interpret Images: Folded Strata
This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection
This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are
- Scientific Accuracy
- Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
- Pedagogic Effectiveness
- Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
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This page first made public: Sep 7, 2006
This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project
Have students describe and interpret images rather than doing the description and interpretation for them. In class, have students make a simple sketch of an outcrop shown in a slide (or computer projection) then discuss possible interpretations. For example, show them a picture of the Dent de Morcles, with its convoluted strata, ask them to do a rough drawing and to summarize the probable history of the rock exposed in that mountainside.
- Develop their observation and interpretation skills
- Apply prior knowledge to a problem
- Connect abstract geological concepts to the real world
Context for Use
The instructor will need a slide projector and slides of appropriate images, or an overhead projector and the wherewithal to print the appropriate overheads, or a computer projector.
Show the students the image linked to the thumbnail on the left, the Dent de Morcles from Switzerland. Ask them to sketch it, and then ask a series of questions. For each question, have the student turn to their neighbor and work out an answer. Have the students report their answers before asking the next question. Possible questions for students in entry-level geoscience courses could include:
- Based on what we did last class, how do you explain the lines on the cliff face?
- How would you expect the lines to be oriented according to what we learned last class?
- What kind of topography is Switzerland known for?
- How do you explain the shapes of the strata in the Dent de Morcles?
Teaching Notes and Tips
References and Resources
This kind of activity is described in Reynolds and Peacock (1988) .
Steve Reynolds, a geology professor at Arizona State University, also has a website (more info) , How to Observe Landscapes, that gives photograph of Monument Valley and a link to a "Geologist's Observations', which lists many observations with links to a page with questions and possible explanations.
Sources for images:
- The American Geological Institute maintains a growing Image Bank (more info) , divided by category.
- Earth Science Picture of the Day (more info) has a substantial, searchable archive of nice photos.
- Martin Miller, a geology professor at the University of Oregon, has posted an online slide collection (more info)
- Lou Maher, a geology professor at the University of Wisconsin, has collected some interesting aerial views with his Geology by Lightplane (more info) project
- For satellite images, especially of Europe, the ESA is developing a library of them.
- Steve Reynolds, a geology professor at Arizona State University has posted 3-D Visualizations of landscapes.