Geology of Yellowstone National Park: Volcanoes
SERC, Carleton College
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Students examine and interpret the geologic map of Yellowstone National Park, focusing on its volcanic history.
Map of the Yellowstone Caldera, from the National Park Service.
Geology of the National Parks (intro level course for majors and non-majors)
See the course description, including links to all of the other teaching activities for this course.
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
Students should be familiar with mafic and felsic volcanic rocks.
How the activity is situated in the course
This is an early lab exercise, the third of several related to volcanoes and volcanic processes.
Content/concepts goals for this activity
Students will practice their geologic map-reading skills. At the end of the exercise, successful students will be able to describe how the map illustrates the volcanic history of the Yellowstone hotspot.
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Geologic map interpretation
Other skills goals for this activity
Description of the activity/assignment
Students examine and describe samples of rhyolite, pumice, and tuff, having seen samples of mafic volcanic rocks in a previous lab exercise. They then answer a series of questions about the distribution of volcanic rocks on the geologic map of Yellowstone National Park. Finally, they synthesize what they've learned by answering the question, "In two or three sentences, what does this map show you about the volcanic activity of the Yellowstone hotspot?"
Determining whether students have met the goals
Working alone or in groups, students write a brief report synthesizing what the geologic map of Yellowstone National Park illustrates about the volcanic history of the park. I evaluate the report using a rubric.
More information about assessment tools and techniques.
Teaching materials and tips
USGS, Geologic Map of Yellowstone National Park: Geologic Investigations Series Map I-711.