The Woodlark Basin as a Natural Laboratory for the Study of the Geological Sciences

Andrew M. Goodliffe
University of Alabama
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This activity is designed to show introductory physical geology students how geoscientists use many different types of data to solve a geological problem. In this exercise the students integrate basic geological and geophysical data to study the geology of the Papua New Guinea region, including the Woodlark Basin. This is done in the context of a GIS database.

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This exercise is designed for use in an undergraduate introductory physical geology class (largely for non-majors)

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Before beginning this activity the students will have gone through our introductory physical geology class. They will have covered similar material to this, but not in the context of applying the techniques to a single geographic area

How the activity is situated in the course

This is a culminating activity, designed to show students that the different geoscience disciplines that they have covered during the course of semester can be used together to come up with a geological interpretation of a single area.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Learn how the vast amount of material covered in an introductory geology class and lab can be integrated and applied to a real-world example - including both geological and basic geophysical data.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Integration of different data types to solve a single problem

Other skills goals for this activity

Presentation of geoscience data in a GIS database

Description of the activity/assignment

Using an ArcReader database students will examine a number of different data types (including SRTM topography, bathymetry, seismicity, plate boundaries, volcano eruption history, and mineral resource information) to explore the geology of Papua New Guinea and the Woodlark Basin region. At the end of this labs students will have met the following learning objectives:
1) Learn how the material covered in class and lab can be integrated and applied to a real-world example.
2) Learn how this material can be presented in terms of a geographical information system (GIS) database.
Uses online and/or real-time data
Has minimal/no quantitative component

Determining whether students have met the goals

In the course of completing this activity students are required to answer a number of questions with minimal guidance.

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