Interpreting the surficial deposits of Glacier National Park, Montana

Carol Ormand
,
SERC, Carleton College
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Summary

Students interpret a GIS map of surficial deposits in Glacier National Park to unravel a bit of the glacial history of the park.

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Context

Audience

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 need to understand glacial processes, and in particular how different types of moraines are deposited.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is the first of three lab investigations related to Glacier National Park, the last park we study in the course. Students have seen many geologic maps prior to this one, but have never examined a map of surficial deposits before. It is also their first exposure to using GIS.

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

Students will understand how glacial deposits - especially different types of tills - are related to glacial movement.
Students will be able to describe how glacial deposits - especially different types of tills - are related to topography.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Students will be able to use the map distributions of surficial deposits to interpret glacial history.

Other skills goals for this activity

Students will learn how to use layers in GIS.

Description of the activity/assignment

Students interpret a GIS map of surficial deposits in Glacier National Park to unravel a bit of the glacial history of the park. In particular, they work to answer the following question: "What clues have the glaciers left behind as they melted, and what are those clues telling us?"

Determining whether students have met the goals

Working alone or in groups, students write a report summarizing what they have learned from the map of surficial deposits in Glacier National Park. I evaluate their report using a rubric.

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