A Cross-Section and Geologic History from Field Data Collected by Second Year Students in the St Francois Mountains of Missouri

Michael Stewart
Department of Geology, School of Earth, Society and Environment, Univ. of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign
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This field activity takes place during a 3-day field trip to St Francois Mountains, Missouri. Students use their field data to construct a cross-section through a portion of the field area.

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Second-year required class titled Earth System History.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students have all had at least a physical geology class, and have completed 2/3 of my Earth System History class. They're able to write rock descriptions from hand samples. They have no mapping experience, and have never made a cross-section from their own observations.

How the activity is situated in the course

This assignment is given during their required field trip scheduled in the last 1/4 of the semester. Participation in the trip including this cross-section and associated written questions is worth 15% of their class grade.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Local geologic context, relative age and field relationships between rock units, strike and dip, intrusive and extrusive relationships, unconformities

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Students need to develop an understanding of the 3-D spacial relationships from observations at the surface, and then construct a cross-section.

Other skills goals for this activity

Students need to produce office-quality work while in the field/at camp.

Description of the activity/assignment

Often Geology students complete their degrees with little practical field experience beyond what they obtain at Field Camp. This exercise introduces students to field projects early in their studies. This introduction occurs while our Earth System History class takes a three-day field trip to St. Francois Mountains of eastern Missouri. Given a topographic map of the field area, students use their field notes to construct a cross-section and answer written questions regarding relative age, field relationships, and geologic history of the area.

Determining whether students have met the goals

The cross-section and written answers are turned-in for grading. Discussions on the outcrop help develop student understanding and illustrate the type and quality of data students are required to collect.

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Teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

Useful Guidebook to the the St. Francois Mountains:

Kisvarsanyi, E. B., A. W. Hebrank, and R. F. Ryan, 1981, Guidebook to the Geology and Ore Deposits of the St. Francois Mountains, Missouri (Contribution to Precambrian Geology No. 9), Mo Dept Nat Res, Div of Geol and Land Survey, Report of Investigations # 67, 119 p.