Rickard Hill Field Project: Peering Into Deep Time

James R. Ebert
State University of New York (SUNY) College at Oneonta
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Initial Publication Date: May 28, 2009 | Reviewed: June 24, 2014


In this field activity, students make observations of the texture, lithology and fauna of two limestone units and use this information to reconstuct paleoenvironments, how these environments changed through time and propose mechanisms that could have produced the observed changes.

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This is a lower to upper level course required of majors in Geology, Water Resources, Earth Science and Adolescence Education Earth Science. It is typically the second geology course that these students take. It is also taken by majors in Elementary Education who have concentrations in Earth or General Science.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Fossil identification
Principles of paleoecology
Basic principles of sedimentology
Ability to synthesize

How the activity is situated in the course

This field project takes place in the last third to quarter of the course. It provides the students with a benchmark of their skills and abilities and sets expectations for the culminating field project which follows one to two weeks later.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Reconstruction of paleoecology
Reconstruction of paleoenvironments

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Analysis of data that students collect themselves

Other skills goals for this activity

Working in groups

Description of the activity/assignment

In this field project, students describe two lithologic units in terms of lithology, texture, sedimentary structures and faunal content. From these observations, they reconstruct paleoenvironments and determine how these environments changed through time.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Student field reports are evaluated for accuracy of descriptions, accuracy of determination of mode of preservation and their preliminary identification of common fossils, typically to phylum level.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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