Geologic Mapping Exercise

Andrew Smith
Vincennes University
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This exercise is designed to simulate some of the mapping aspects of a basic geological investigation. This mock geological investigation is a good wrap-up exercise because it incorporates a variety of geological concepts such as identifying sediments and rocks, structural geology, and groundwater flow.

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This exercise was used during an entry-level undergraduate Physical Geology Lab course for both majors and non-majors.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

  • identifying unconsolidated sediments and rocks
  • constructing and interpreting a geologic cross-section
  • constructing and interpreting a geologic map
  • constructing and interpreting a groundwater contour map
  • identifying different structural features in cross-section and map view

How the activity is situated in the course

This project is a culminating project and is the last project we complete in Physical Geology Lab.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

  • geologic map construction and interpretation
  • groundwater contour map construction and interpretation

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

This project allows the student to understand how data is collected in the "real world" and applied to create maps. The student must interpret the data they collect in the field and place that information on geological maps and cross-sections so that it makes some kind of sense in the end. Also, one optional task at the end of this exercise is to, based on interpretation of the maps created, summarize the geologic history of this area. This includes understanding in what environments different sediment and rock types are deposited and what regional forces might have resulted in the specific structural features observed.

Other skills goals for this activity

One optional task is reconstruct the geological history of the area which seeks to develop the student's report writing skills.

Description of the activity/assignment

This exercise is designed to simulate how a basic geological investigation of a site takes place. A basic geological investigation includes familiarizing yourself with the unconsolidated sediments, rocks, structural geology, and groundwater present at your site. As part of this exercise you will have to properly identify a variety of rock types and sediments, create maps that represent data you collected at each location, and complete a basic report of your findings (optional). Once completed, this exercise should give students a basic understanding of how the various concepts used throughout the semester are applied in the real world in the form of a geological investigation.

Determining whether students have met the goals

I created a grading checklist based on the description of the assignment that the students initially received.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

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