Teach the Earth > Paleontology > Teaching Activities > Silurian Biostratigraphy and Paleoecology Lab

Silurian Biostratigraphy and Paleoecology Lab

Ann Holmes
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Author Profile

This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Collection

Resources in this top level collection a) must have scored Exemplary or Very Good in all five review categories, and must also rate as “Exemplary” in at least three of the five categories. The five categories included in the peer review process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process. This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: Jun 17, 2009


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 »

Paleontology resources from Teach the Earth include:

Specialized collections including

or search