Geologic Maps and Geologic Structures: A Texas Example

Roger Steinberg
Del Mar College
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  1. This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

    This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

    • Scientific Accuracy
    • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
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This page first made public: May 22, 2008


Students work with geologic maps of Texas, learning details of Texas geology, and reinforce knowledge and use of geologic structures, stratigraphic sections, and geologic cross sections.

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Introductory Historical Geology course for all students, both majors and non-majors (although only about 3.5% of our students are Geology majors).

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

This lab is typically offered fifth during the semester. Students will already have basic knowledge of geologic maps, having worked with the AAPG Geological Highway Map of Texas in a lab exercise on correlation.

Prior to handing out this exercise, I use about an hour of the three-hour lab for instruction on geologic structures, emphasizing folding and faulting.

How the activity is situated in the course

This Historical Geology lab exercise is typically offered fifth during the semester, as an accompaniment to lab class instruction about geologic structures (folding and faulting) and geologic maps.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

  1. Students learn about the geology of the state of Texas.
  2. Students become more familiar with the use of geologic maps, a skill used throughout the semester-long course.
  3. Reinforces previously learned concepts of stratigraphic sections and geologic cross sections. Students must use these to answer lab questions.
  4. Reinforces concepts of folding and faulting, introduced in lab class instruction prior to handing out lab exercise.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Knowledge -- Observation and recall of information
Knowledge -- Examining and "labeling" geologic maps
Comprehension -- Understanding information
Application -- Using information
Application -- Calculations and measurements
Analysis -- Pattern recognition
Synthesis -- Relate knowledge from several areas
Synthesis -- Make predictions, draw conclusions

Other skills goals for this activity

Students are encouraged to work in groups.

Description of the activity/assignment

This Historical Geology lab exercise is an accompaniment to lab class instruction about geologic structures (folding and faulting) and geologic maps. It also serves as an excellent introduction to the Geology of the state of Texas. "Coloring" geologic maps, an important part of the exercise, may seem like a very elementary learning technique. But this lab engages students actively, and since the subject is often already somewhat familiar to them, emphasizing both the geology and geography of Texas, students receive it enthusiastically.

This activity could be adapted to other regions, since most states have color 8 1/2 by 11 geologic maps available. A color map could be scanned and modified in Photoshop to create a simplified black and white version as was done in the assignment handout.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Graded lab exercise, one of 14 graded lab exercises during a semester.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Download teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

Virtual Geology of Texas field trip
(Shows stops along optional overnight field trip taken late in each semester.)