Computerized Field Trip Preview of the Berkshire Mountains

Christopher D. Condit
University of Massachusetts - Amherst
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This is a computer (Windows, Macintosh) based exercise designed to take about two hours. Students use a 5 page short-answer study sheet with the Berkshire Field Trip Map, Guidebook and associated images of the Dynamic Digital Map of New England (DDM-NE) to preview and put field trip stops in context, both spatially (regional and plate tectonic setting) and temporally (outcrop relationship to the geologic history of this part of the Appalachian Mountains). The DDM-NE can be downloaded and used via the web from anywhere with a reasonably fast internet connection.

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To be used about 2/3 the way through a Physical Geology course, or by those who have completed that course. Also ideal for any geologist interested in visiting classic sites giving insights into the geologic history of northwestern Massachusetts, and the development of the eastern margin of Laurentia.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Must be comfortable with basic computer use.
As with many geology field trips, the more geologic tools one has mastered, the more they will get from it. Best used when one has been through the basic plate tectonic, petrologic (igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary) and structural geologic components of Physical Geology.

How the activity is situated in the course

This DDM-based preview is to be completed before the 5th field-based lab of our Physical Geology course. This 5th lab is an all-day (8-hour) field trip, and serves as a capstone to this part of the course.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

The goal is to integrate outcrop location with the state geologic map and the various outcrop's position in time and within the broader plate tectonic evolution of the eastern margin of Laruentia.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Part of the intent is to provide a framework for the user so they can look at each outcrop for additional features to those seen in the images.

Other skills goals for this activity

Provide ongoing use of computer to look at geologic information.

Description of the activity/assignment

The intent is to provide a map-based framework, complete with animations showing the geologic evolution of the area to be visited, so that students can then better appreciate the observations made at the various stops along the way and see how they each relate to the other and the big picture.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Grade the short answer work sheet the students complete by the end of the exercise, to be turned in before the field trip.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs