Fauna of Waulsortian Mounds

Damon Bassett
Geography, Geology, & Planning; Missouri State University
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This is a field trip to local exposures of potential waulsortian carbonate mud mounds. The students will prepare by reading 1-2 publications on the subject and then we will travel to see and collect samples from the mounds. This will help them learn to research, analyze, and come up with hypotheses for whether or not the mounds are classic waulsortian-type mounds.

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This field trip is for a Junior to Senior level paleontology course.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

The students must understand how to read a journal article critically and know how to identify fossils using classic techniques. Helpful skills would be basic carbonate petrology and the ability to use a Jacob staff.

How the activity is situated in the course

I will incorporate this exercise into the portion of the class that deals with reef development. This will be an alternative to classic reef formation and should allow them to see some of the natural variation that geologists deal with when working in real world settings.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

The content of this field trip will deal with the formation of waulsortian mounds and the types of fauna expected in the bounding beds versus the mound itself. The students will be expected to identify some species individually and then work together as a group to create a larger compiled faunal list.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

The general goal for this exercise will be to confirm or reject that the mounds are waulsortian-type mounds. The students will be using professional publications, lectures, and online research to analyze data they collect (plus additional data provided by me if necessary) in order to decide whether or not the mounds fit the classical decription provided. If they do not, then the students will have to provide a plausible explanation for how these mounds formed.

Other skills goals for this activity

There will be a written assignment associated with this field trip and the students will be consistently working in small groups, and finally as one large group during discussion.

Description of the activity/assignment

There are many localities throughout the world where waulsortian mounds have been identified. These mounds are believed to build up through faunal and carbonate mud deposition in areas outside the temperature/latitudinal/salinity realm of coral formation. Students will analyze the mounds to determine whether or not they believe the mounds are waulsortian and discuss possible depositional environments for the mounds in either case. After samples have been collected and described lithologically and faunally, the students will write a report on their findings and conclude with an answer to the question, "Are these waulsortian mounds?"

Determining whether students have met the goals

This exercise will be graded on quality of field work in addition to the overall quality of the final report. Students who have exercised original thinking and proven to be able to measure a section and sample effectively will receive full credit for the exercise.

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