Physical Geology: Idaho Field Trip

Simon Kattenhorn
University of Idaho
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Optional field trip to local sites of geologic interest/relevance.

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Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students must have a background in rock and mineral identification, an understanding of volcanic processes and volcanic rocks, knowledge of the geologic time scale and the meaning of unconformities, an introduction to types of geologic structures, and an understanding of sedimentary structures.

How the activity is situated in the course

The field trip is held during the final third of the course, once the relevant background material has been covered in the lecture setting.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Identification and interpretation of geological features in nature.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

The activity pushes the student to move beyond simply assimilating facts in the lecture setting to firsthand identification of features in the field and the development of interpretations regarding the origins of observed features.

Other skills goals for this activity

Students must answer a specific set of questions on a field trip handout.

Description of the activity/assignment

This optional field trip is designed to augment the in-class learning experience in introductory physical geology by providing students the opportunity to see firsthand local geological features and understand their context in the long-term tectonic evolution of the western United States. The university is conveniently located in a portion of the American west where a plethora of geological features are readily accessible over a total field trip duration of 6 hours. Over a total of 6 field stops, students are presented with an opportunity to observe features relevant to topics learned in class involving rock types, volcanic features (lava flows and ash fall deposits), faults and folds, mass wasting features, catastrophic flood deposits (Bonneville and Missoula floods), and loess deposits.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students are required to hand in a completed field trip handout to demonstrate full participation. As a result of the large class size (280-310), the field trip is optional and provides a bonus point opportunity.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

Field trip guide (now unavailable) with maps, photos and discussion of the geologic processes at each stop