Silurian Biostratigraphy and Paleoecology Lab

Ann Holmes
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Author Profile


Explores paleoecologic and biostratigraphic uses of graptolites and brachiopods. Exercise is based on Silurian Great Britain data/interpretations published by Ziegler et al., 1968. It illustrates litho- and time-stratigraphic interpretations.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications



I use this as a lab after I have introduced paleoecology and biostratigraphy topics in undergraduate paleontology.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Must possess the basics of lithologic record of sea-level rise, lithostratigraphic sections, constructions of cross-sections, time-stratigraphic representation. Students should have been introduced to paleoecologic and biostratigraphic concepts that are illustrated via exercise.

How the activity is situated in the course

stand-alone lab exercise


Content/concepts goals for this activity

lithologic record of sea-level change
lithologic and time-correlation
structural orientation

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

analysis of data
formulation of hypotheses
synthesis of ideas

Other skills goals for this activity

graphic representation of data

Description of the activity/assignment

This activity uses simplified paleontological and stratigraphic data. Students receive instructions, basic location map, biostratigraphic range charts. Involves cutting out section data in columns, constructing a cross-section, also plotting biostratigraphic data according to time. This exercise develops understanding of the time-stratigraphic significance of graptolites, the sedimentologic and paleoecologic interpretations of environment of deposition and water depth. The activity connects to stratigraphy, sedimentology and obliquely to structural geology.

Determining whether students have met the goals

I read the answers to questions posed, evaluating for depth of understanding, and I look to see if correlation lines are appropriately connected, that they do not cross, that they can be truncated/terminated by erosion or by onlap. In the summary paragraphs, I look for key points to be presented (e.g., brachs usually don't make good biostrat tools), primary interpretations that should be made (e.g., pre-existing topography will control where the oldest sediments are deposited).

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Download teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

Ziegler, A.M., Cocks, L.R.M., and McKerrow, W.S., 1968, The Llandovery Transgression of the Welsh Borderland, Palaeontology, vol. 11, part 5, pp. 736-782.

Miall, A.D., 1984, Principles of Sedimentary Basin Analysis. Springer-Verlag New York, 490p.

Harland, W.B., Armstrong, R.L., Cox, A.V., Craig, L.E., Smith, A.G., and Smith, D.G., 1990, A Geologic Time Scale 1989, Cambridge University Press, 263p.

New TTE Logo Small

Paleontology resources from across Teach the Earth »

Key Resources:

Join the Community:

or Search