Geology of the Grand Canyon
SERC, Carleton College
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Students analyze topographic and geologic maps, through a set of guiding questions, to decipher the geologic history recorded in the rocks of the Grand Canyon.
Grand Canyon. Photo by Carol Ormand, c. 2017.
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
While this lab exercise does provide some scaffolding for interpreting the geologic map, it assumes students have some familiarity with both topographic and geologic maps. Students also need to be able to describe how a variety of sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks form.
How the activity is situated in the course
This is the first of two labs about Grand Canyon National Park. It builds on previous exercises on rock identification and interpretation, and it precedes a field trip to a local river gorge.
Content/concepts goals for this activity
Students will decipher the geologic history recorded in the rocks of the Grand Canyon.
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Geologic map interpretation: students will construct a geologic history of the Grand Canyon region, using only the information on the geologic map and their wits
Other skills goals for this activity
Description of the activity/assignment
Students analyze topographic and geologic maps, through a set of guiding questions, to decipher the geologic history recorded in the rocks of the Grand Canyon. This includes interpreting what each rock unit tells us about the regional environment at the time of its formation and interpreting the gaps in the rock record.
Determining whether students have met the goals
Working alone or in groups, students compile a timeline of events recorded in the rocks of the Grand Canyon. I evaluate their timeline using a rubric.
More information about assessment tools and techniques.
Teaching materials and tips