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Cutting Edge part of Cutting Edge
The On the Cutting Edge project helps geoscience faculty stay up-to-date with both geoscience research and teaching methods through workshops and websites which combine to provide professional development opportunities, resources, and opportunities for faculty to interact with colleagues around the world.
Exercise 7: Plate Boundaries in the Woodlark Basin Region part of Cutting Edge:GIS and Remote Sensing:Activities2
Barbara and David Tewksbury, Hamilton College Summary Students use a variety of data sets (bathy DEMs, SRTM DEMS, earthquake data, volcano data, ocean floor ages, and motion vectors) to 1) determine the locations ...
Exercise 8: Using LiDAR and GPS data to model the water table in ArcScene part of Cutting Edge:GIS and Remote Sensing:Activities2
Barbara and David Tewksbury, Hamilton College Tutorial for using the new LiDAR tools (LAS dataset and LAS toolbar) in ArcGIS 10.1 (Acrobat (PDF) 13.8MB Nov6 13). Same LiDAR Tutorial as a Word doc (Microsoft Word ...
GIS Resource Portfolio part of Cutting Edge:GIS and Remote Sensing:Activities2
Barbara and David Tewksbury, Hamilton College Summary In this semester-long project, students develop a GIS resource portfolio that will be useful to them for future GIS tasks. You might also be interested in our ...
Exercise 1: Introduction to spatial data mapping the classroom with paper and pencil part of Cutting Edge:GIS and Remote Sensing:Activities2
Barbara and David Tewksbury, Hamilton College Summary Students map the classroom twice using paper and pencil, the first time on different pieces of paper and with essentially no instructions and the second time ...
Exercise 3: Reclassifying the New York State Geologic Map part of Cutting Edge:GIS and Remote Sensing:Activities2
Barbara and David Tewksbury, Hamilton College Summary Students download and merge the multiple sheets of the New York State Geologic Map together and reclassify units to create an attractive and legible version of ...
Exercise 5: The human impact of sea level changes, plus extensions to impacts of other natural events on human populations part of Cutting Edge:GIS and Remote Sensing:Activities2
Barbara and David Tewksbury, Hamilton College Summary In this eight-part exercise, students download NOAA high resolution bathy/topo DEMs and TIGER census data to predict the location of shorelines, the extent of ...
Exercise 5: Choropleth Map of the Happiest States and Effective Map Design part of Cutting Edge:GIS and Remote Sensing:Activities2
Barbara and David Tewksbury, Hamilton College Summary Students create choropleth maps by creating data tables in Excel and merging them with existing shapefiles for US states; they also evaluate the effectiveness ...
Exercise 6: Nevada Mines analysis choosing water sampling sites to test for possible water contamination part of Cutting Edge:GIS and Remote Sensing:Activities2
Barbara and David Tewksbury, Hamilton College Summary Students use an EPA data set of Nevada mines to evaluate proximity of mine sites to streams to choose priority water sampling sites to evaluate for possible ...
GIS course final project part of Cutting Edge:GIS and Remote Sensing:Activities2
Barbara and David Tewksbury, Hamilton College Summary Final independent GIS analysis designed and carried out by the student; once the analysis is complete, each student develops an assignment or activity based on ...
Downloading Earthquake Data from the USGS Earthquake Hazards Site for Anywhere in the World and Studying it Using ArcGIS part of Cutting Edge:Introductory Courses:Activities
Students download earthquake data from the USGS Earthquake Hazards website and plot and anlyze the earthquakes using ArcMap and ArcScene.
Using ArcGIS to Study the New Lakes in the Toshka Basin in Egypt and Evaluate Egypt's New Valley Project part of Cutting Edge:Introductory Courses:Activities
In this assignment, students use ArcGIS to analyze the new lakes that have formed in the Toshka Depression, Egypt as a result of overflow from Lake Nasser and use their analyses to evaluate the wisdom of the plan to bypass the Toshka Lakes in developing the New Valley Project for irrigation in the Western Desert of Egypt.
Using THEMIS Images of Mars Graben in a Structural Geology Course part of Cutting Edge:Discoveries from Mars:Activities
Students use Mars THEMIS images of normal faults to learn to recognize features of normal faults systems that are typically obscured on Earth by erosion and/or deposition and to calculate displacement and estimate regional extension based on features in the images. -
Did it Rain on Mars? Analysis of Valley Networks on Mars in an Intro Geo Course part of Cutting Edge:Discoveries from Mars:Activities
Students investigate the question of whether it might have rained on Mars by doing an activity based on an article by Hynek and Phillips (2003). Students do a simple drainage basin analysis based on Hynek and Phillips' maps, calculate drainage densities, and compare results to data for rain-fed arid regions on Earth. -
Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Weight of Gold part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Question Let's suppose that you have a shoe box full of water (the box is waterproof, of course). The shoe box weighs about 9 kg (19.8 pounds). Suppose you emptied the box and filled it completely with rock (little or no air space). How much would it weigh? Let's empty the box again and fill it completely with pure gold. How much would the box weigh now?
Structural Control of Giant Rock Avalanches in Argentina part of Cutting Edge:Structural Geology:Activities
Students analyze the influence of bedrock structures on the locations of giant rock avalanches in Argentina. Activity is available in two versions: 1) short case example that can be used as an in-class activity or as an exam question and 2) in-class jigsaw with homework prep. -
Reservoir-induced seismicity at Nurek Reservoir in Tajikistan: case example part of Cutting Edge:Structural Geology:Structure, Geophysics, and Tectonics 2012:Activities
Students use Google Earth to interpret aspects of the general bedrock geology and tectonic setting of the area around Nurek Reservoir in Tajikistan, evaluate reservoir induced seismicity associated with the reservoir, and evaluate the risk of slope failure.
Increase in volcanism at the beginning of the Holocene on Reykjanes, Iceland: case example part of Cutting Edge:Structural Geology:Structure, Geophysics, and Tectonics 2012:Activities
Students make simple stress calculations to determine whether deglaciation at the end of the Pleistocene may have been responsible for a short but dramatic increase in rates of volcanism on Reykjanes in Iceland as a result of depressurization of the underlying mantle.
Threat of Flank Collapse at Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii: Case Example part of Cutting Edge:Structural Geology:Structure, Geophysics, and Tectonics 2012:Activities
Students evaluate fault and earthquake data plus focal mechanism solutions, and develop a picture of on-going deformation of the south flank of Kilauea Volcano that might one day transition to catastrophic flank collapse.
Crandall Canyon Mine Collapse, Utah: Case Example part of Cutting Edge:Structural Geology:Structure, Geophysics, and Tectonics 2012:Activities
Students evaluate whether pillar failure and collapse caused ground shaking or whether an earthquake caused pillar failure and mine collapse in the Crandall Canyon Mine collapse in 2007.
The Faults at Delphi, the Oracle, and the Tectonic Setting of the Gulf of Corinth: Case Example part of Cutting Edge:Structural Geology:Structure, Geophysics, and Tectonics 2012:Activities
Students interpret data on the faults at Delphi, evaluate the tectonic context of the faults, and explore the proposed connection between faults and the Delphic Oracle of Ancient Greece.
Exercise 2: Introduction to coordinate systems and projections part of Cutting Edge:GIS and Remote Sensing:Activities2
Barbara and David Tewksbury, Hamilton College Summary This exercise gives students personal experience with data sets that have spatial reference "issues" so that they learn first hand both why it ...
Introducing Geologic Map Interpretation and Cross Section Construction Using Google Earth part of Cutting Edge:Structural Geology:Activities
A highly effective, non-traditional approach for using Google Earth to teach strike, dip, and geologic map interpretation. -
Creating Shaded Relief Images and 3D Scenes Using Aerial Photos, DEMs, Arc, and ArcScene part of Cutting Edge:Geomorphology:Activities
Students use ArcGIS (DEMs plus georeferenced orthophotos) to create shaded relief images with correct shadows and to create 3D views of aerial photos in ArcScene to help them visualize landscapes.
Using ArcGIS to Investigate the Connection between Bedrock Geology and the Development of Ancient Egyptian Civilization part of Cutting Edge:Introductory Courses:Activities
In this assignment, students use ArcGIS (DEMs plus georeferenced geologic maps) to analyze the influence of bedrock geology on the development and extent of Ancient Egypt.
Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Eruption Rates part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Question Over the last 70 million years or so, the Hawaiian Hot Spot has been pumping out lava, a total of about 775,000 km3 worth. As the Pacific Plate has moved over the hot spot, the volcanic peaks and plateaus of the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain have formed. If all of that lava had erupted in California, how deeply would California be buried in lava?
Exercise 10: Egypt remote sensing part of Cutting Edge:GIS and Remote Sensing:Activities2
Barbara and David Tewksbury, Hamilton College Summary In this set of activities, students gain experience in creating multiband image composites and layering multiple raster data sets (DEM and hillshade, geologic ...
Exercise 6: Cartography part of Cutting Edge:GIS and Remote Sensing:Activities2
Barbara and David Tewksbury, Hamilton College Summary In the first part of the exercise, students examine a variety of ArcMaps to work out what data sets and techniques were used and to develop a list of the ...
Introductory Tutorial/Refresher for Basic ArcMap Techniques for Geoscientists, with Emphasis on Working with Raster Data Sets part of Cutting Edge:GIS and Remote Sensing:Activities2
Barbare and David Tewksbury, Hamilton College Summary This series of three activities in tutorial format serves not only as an introduction to ArcGIS for our intro geology, hydrogeology, and structural geology ...
Using ArcGIS to Evaluate the Qattara Depression Solar-Hydroelectric Power Project part of Cutting Edge:Introductory Courses:Activities
Students use ArcGIS to evaluate a proposal to generate hydroelectric power by piping water from the Mediterranean and dropping it into the sub-sea level Qattara Depression.
Tutorials for Introducing ArcGIS into Introductory Geoscience Courses part of Cutting Edge:Introductory Courses:Activities
Three sequential modular exercises introduce geoscience students to the power of GIS and give them experience with the kinds of GIS raster image analysis tasks commonly used by geoscientists. You might also be interested in our Full GIS course with links to all assignments.
Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Age of the Earth part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Question The Earth is about 4.6 billion years old. Let's try to get a perspective on how long that really is. Suppose that you decided to count to 4.6 billion and that you counted 1 number every second. How long would it take you to count how old you are? How long would it take you to count the following numbers of years? 5,500 years (since construction of the pyramids at Giza) 700,000 years (since the earliest appearance of archaic Homo sapiens) 66,000,000 years (since the extinction of the dinosaurs) 545,000,000 years (since the first abundant evidence of animals with hard parts) 4,600,000,000 years (since the birth of the Earth)
Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Rate of Lava Flow part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Question In 1983, an eruption began at Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii that has proved to be the largest and longest-lived eruption since records began in 1823. Lava has poured out of the volcano at an average rate of about 160 million m3 per year. To put those flow rates into perspective, let's suppose that the volcano was erupting directly into your classroom. At these flow rates, how long would it take to fill your classroom with lava?
Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Size of Olympus Mons part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Question A picture-perfect strato-volcano such as Fujiyama in Japan is what comes to mind when most people think of a volcano. Mt. Fuji is an imposing volcanic construct, rising from nearly sea level to a summit at 3,776 m (over 12,000') above sea level. The base of the volcano is about 30 km across. Let's compare Mt. Fuji with the largest volcano on Mars, Olympus Mons. a) Olympus Mons is over 550 km across at the base and over 26 km tall. How many Mt. Fujis could you stretch in a line across the base of Olympus Mons? How many Mt. Fujis could you stack on top of one another before you reached the height of Olympus Mons? b) Olympus Mons has a summit caldera that is 80 km across and a maximum of 3 km deep. What is the relative size of Mt. Fuji in comparison to the summit caldera of Olympus Mons?
Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Earth History Timeline part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Question The Earth is about 4.6 billion years old. Let's try to get a perspective on how long that really is. A roll of good quality toilet paper has 1000 squares. If the roll of toilet paper represents the entire history of the Earth, how many million years is represented by each square? Suppose you were to reel off the toilet paper. Where would some of the important events in the history of the Earth fall along the unrolled toilet paper?
Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Energy Released in an Earthquake part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Question A magnitude 8.5 earthquake (such as the 1964 Good Friday earthquake in Alaska) releases about 1x1018 joules of energy. The atomic bomb exploded over Hiroshima released about 1.5x1013 joules of energy. How many Hiroshima bombs would one have to explode simultaneously to equal the amount of energy released in a single magnitude 8.5 earthquake?
Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Approaching Asteroid part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Question If asteroids careen through the solar system at 25 km/second, how far away would we have to detect one in order to have a year's notice to prepare for an impact, as was portrayed in the movie Deep Impact? How far away is that relative to the planets in our solar system?
Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Collision with Asteroid part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Question We have located an asteroid heading directly for the Earth. It is now 1.6 million km away from the Earth, about 4 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon. The asteroid is travelling at 25 km/second. How long will it be from the time of discovery at a distance of 1.6 million kilometers to impact on the Earth?
Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Percentage of Copper in Ore part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Question Suppose that you are building a new house. It will take about 90 kg (198 pounds) of copper to do the electrical wiring. In order to get the copper in the first place, someone needs to mine solid rock that contains copper, extract the copper minerals, throw away the waste rock, and smelt the copper minerals to produce copper metal. Rocks mined for copper typically contain only very small percentages of copperabout 0.7% in the case of most of the big porphyry copper deposits of the world. How much rock would someone have to mine in order to extract enough copper to wire your new house?
Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Spacecraft Acceleration part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Question Suppose someone offered you a ride to the nearest star in a new spacecraft that could travel at half the speed of light, or about 150,000 km/second. In order to reach such a cruising speed, you and the spacecraft must accelerate from a standstill to half the speed of light. Acceleration means uncomfortable (and maybe even fatal!) "g" forces, that pressed-into-the-seat feeling you get when a car or airplane accelerates. More than 3 g's of acceleration are tough to take for very long, so your spacecraft's engines are designed to accelerate you at not more than 29 meters/second/second (3 times the acceleration due to gravity at the Earth's surface). How long will it take you and your spacecraft to accelerate to half light speed?
Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Velocity of Asteroids part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Question Asteroids zip through space at truly astounding velocities. Let's try to put that into perspective. It took the Apollo astronauts about 3 days to travel from the Earth to the Moon. a) If you could drive the distance in your car at 100 km/hour (60 mph), how long would it take you to drive to the Moon? b) Earth-crossing asteroids typically zoom along at 25 km/second (yes! per second! not per hour!). How long would it take a typical asteroid to travel the distance from the Moon to the Earth?
Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: The Distance Radio Waves Have Traveled part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Question We have been broadcasting radio waves in all directions since the development of radio and television stations. How far could you be from the Earth and detect the faint signals of an early Star Trek broadcast? Have signals from Star Trek reached the nearest star yet?
Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Comparing Jupiter with Earth part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Question Below, you'll see a drawing of Jupiter showing the Great Red Spot, as well as several of the dark scars, like enormous black eyes, left as a result of the impact of fragments of the comet Shoemaker-Levy in 1994. If you were to cut out a circle that represented the Earth at the same scale, how big would you make the circle?
Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Surface Area of the Moon vs. Earth part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Question If you could wrap the Moon in a gigantic cloth and then unwrap the cloth and spread it out on the Earth, how much of the Earth's surface would it cover?
Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Volume of the Earth and Sun part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Question Suppose you and your friends wanted to make a scale model of the Earth and the Sun. You start by cutting a one-inch cube of Play-Doh to represent the volume of the Earth. - How many one-inch Play-Doh cubes would you have to cut in order to represent the volume of the Sun at the same scale? - If you stacked the blocks up into a cube, how big would the cube be? - And, finally, if you and all your friends mashed and shaped that huge cube into a sphere, and you made a sphere out of the Earth cube as well, how far away from your Play-Doh Sun would you have to hold your scale Earth to match the true scale of the solar system?
Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Height of the Himalayas part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Question Let's think about the highest peak in the world, Mt. Everest. If we stand in India on the Ganges Plain at the foothills of the Himalayas, we are standing at about 180 m (590') above sea level. It's only 195 km (121 miles) map distance from where we're standing to the summit of Everest at over 8,848 m (29,028') above sea level. If we were to stretch a nice straight wire for a cable car from the Ganges Plain to the summit of Everest, at what angle would the cable rise? Choose from 3°, 5°, 10°, 20°, or 30°.
Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Depth of Buried Metamorphic Rock part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Question In many high-grade metamorphic belts around the world, rocks were buried 20-30 km beneath the surface during deformation and metamorphism. How deep is that relative to the cruising altitude of a typical commercial airplane flying across the country?
Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Position and Dimensions of the Moon part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Question Suppose you could scale the Earth down to the size of your head. At that scale, how big would the Moon be, and how far away would it be from your head?
Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Communication with Mars part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Question Suppose you were living in a Mars colony, and you wanted to call home to your parents on Earth. You say, "Hello! How are you?" How long do you have to wait until you hear them say, "We're fine! How are you?"
Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Scale of the Himalayas part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Question Let's imagine a scale model of the Earth, and let's imagine that the Earth is the size of a basketball. Suppose that you wanted to build the Himalayas to scale on the surface of the basketball. How tall would you make your scale mountains?
Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: The Scale of the Atmosphere part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Question Let's imagine a scale model of the Earth and use a basketball to represent the Earth. Now, let's get ourselves some packages of fruit roll-ups and start covering the basketball with layers of fruit roll-ups. How many layers would we have to cover the basketball with in order to make the stack of fruit roll-ups as thick as the Earth's atmosphere, to scale?
Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Size of KT Meteorite part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Question About 66 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous Period, a meteorite estimated to have been about 10 km in diameter slammed into the Earth. Let's put the size of this cosmic cannonball into perspective. Suppose we could carefully and quietly lower the meteorite into the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and the U.S. Once it was sitting on the bottom of the Pacific, how far would the top of the meteorite stick up relative to the surface of the ocean?
Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: The Right Eye of the Man in the Moon part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Question The "right eye" of the Man in the Moon is really Mare Imbrium, the central portion of a gigantic multi-ring basin formed by a colossal meteorite impact several billion years ago. Which of the following is approximately the same size as Mare Imbrium? Choose from the Pacific Ocean, the North Atlantic Ocean, Australia, Texas, and New York State.
Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Orbital Distance Scale part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Question Let's imagine a scale model of the Earth with an orbiting Space Shuttle. Suppose that the Earth is the size of a basketball. How far above the basketball does the Shuttle orbit?
GIS for Geoscientists part of Cutting Edge:GIS and Remote Sensing:Courses
Introduction to basic concepts in computer-based GIS emphasizing hands-on practice in portraying and analyzing spatially referenced data sets to produce a variety of types of digital products and to solve geologic problems. Practice using data from multiple sources, including data downloaded from online sources, field-collected data, and published map data. Emphasis on mastery of basic skills and techniques using ESRI ArcGIS software.
Geology and Human Events in North Africa and the Middle East part of Cutting Edge:Introductory Courses:Courses
A seminar-style course in which students analyze the underlying (i.e., beyond obvious hazards and disasters) influence of geology and geologic processes on human events in the context of North Africa and the Middle East. The course also has a major GIS component threaded throughout the course.
Teaching Method Module
Jigsaws part of Cutting Edge:Enhance Your Teaching:Teaching Methods:Jigsaws
Developed by Barbara Tewksbury, Hamilton College "When efforts are structured cooperatively, there is considerable evidence that students will exert more effort to achieve - learn more, use higher-level ...
Insights About Polygonal Faults and Related Structures from Extensive Exposures of the Cretaceous Khoman Formation, Western Desert, Egypt part of Cutting Edge:Structural Geology:2014 Structure and Tectonics Forum Abstracts
Barbara Tewksbury, Hamilton College John Hogan, Missouri University of Science and Technology Simon Kattenhorn, University of Idaho Charlotte Mehrtens, University of Vermont Elhamy Tarabees, Damanhour University ...
Events and Communities
Course Design: PI