Teach the Earth > Petrology > Rock Suites Working Group

Rock Suites Working Group

What do we want to accomplish?*

One of the outcomes from the 2003 Teaching Petrology workshop was a call for the development of a series of data-rich rocks suites that could be used to help students learn fundamental petrologic processes and concepts such as partial melting, magmatic differentiation, and phase equilibria. These suites would include detailed field, structural, geochemical, and geochronologic data that could be used in short lecture demonstrations, laboratory exercises, multi-week activities or semester-long projects. The motivation behind the development of these suites is the growing understanding in the education community that hands-on, problem-based learning activities that allow students to build their own knowledge are more effective than most traditional lecture formats. In discovery-based environments students learn to pose questions, work with data, manage ambiguity, and synthesize diverse observations. Many existing rocks suites used in petrology courses consist of rocks that were not necessarily selected to facilitate learning of important petrologic processes, or to develop higher order skills in a discovery-based setting.

Our proposal is to develop a collection of genetically related rocks that can be used to discover fundamental petrologic concepts through guided data collection, interpretation, and synthesis by students and faculty. The use of suites in this manner helps develop a "community of learners" atmosphere in a course, where the outcome is perhaps not well defined and could change from year to year depending on the interests of the students and faculty involved. In addition, we hope these suites will be developed and used by several institutions, thus modeling the process of modern research by promoting sharing of equipment, data, ideas, and expertise perhaps through the use of a dedicated web site for each suite.

* from Wirth, K., Davidson, C., and Creasy, J., Refining a Proposal to Build Data-Rich Rock Suites for Learning Petrology: Eos. Trans. AGU, 84(46), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract ED41C-1178, 2003.

Field Workshops

We propose to organize thematic field workshops focused on rock suites identified by the petrologic community (e.g., a Barrovian metamorphic suite). In order to obtain such a suite, we would organize a field conference with 15-20 participants who would meet for 3-4 days to collect samples, to organize existing, supporting materials (e.g. maps, literature), and to develop exercises that could be used with the suite.

There are two working (not mutually exclusive) models on the types of suites we could pursue. The first is to choose a suite that already has a wealth of data, references, maps (hence, already "data-rich"), and the second is to choose a less well-known suite that students and faculty work on together to generate data. This model not only provides students with a greater sense of ownership in the project, but also provides opportunities for students to experience and become familiar with sample preparation, instrumentation, and analytical methods. It also allows us to model how research is done in our courses by actually doing research. In addition, an advantage of our proposal is that different institutions throughout the country can share data and ideas developed from a common set of samples–modeling the collaborative nature of modern science. Indeed, some of this work could eventually lead to publication. To help promote these types of interactions, we would construct and maintain a website for the rock suites for faculty and students to post data and share ideas.

Potential Rock Suites

A number of potential rock suites we could pursue were presented at the "Teaching Petrology in the 21st Century" theme session during the 2003 Fall AGU meeting in San Francisco (ED41C and ED51A). In addition, Table 1 (Acrobat (PDF) 90kB Dec8 03) lists potential rocks suites generated at the 2003 workshop in Bozeman.

Working Group Members:

David G. Bailey, Hamilton College, dbailey@hamilton.edu
Ray Beiersdorfer, Youngstown State University, ray@cc.ysu.edu
Eric H Christiansen, Brigham Young University, eric_christiansen@byu.edu
Christopher D. Condit, Univ. Massachusetts, ccondit@geo.umass.edu
Mark R. Colberg, Southern Utah University, colberg@suu.edu
John Creasy*, Bates College, jcreasy@bates.edu
Linda Lee Davis, Northern Illinois University, lldavis@niu.edu
Larry Eugene Davis, College of St. Benedict, ldavis@csbsju.edu
Cameron Davidson*, Carleton College, cdavidso@carleton.edu
Steven R. Dunn, Mount Holyoke College, sdunn@mtholyoke.edu
G. Nelson Eby, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Nelson_Eby@uml.edu
Todd Feeley, Montana State University, tfeeley@montana.edu
Lydia K. Fox, University of the Pacific, lkfox@uop.edu
John Goodge, University of Minnesota, Duluth, jgoodge@d.umn.edu
Timothy W. Grover, Castleton State College, grovert@castleton.edu
Jodie Lynn Hayob, Mary Washington College, jhayob@mwc.edu
Bereket Haileab, Carleton College, bhaileab@carleton.edu
Darrell Henry, Lousiana State University, dhenry@geol.lsu edu
Mary Keskinen, University of Alaska Fairbanks, ffmjk@uaf.edu
Mr. Jade Star Lackey, University of Wisconsin-Madison, jadestar@geology.wisc.edu
Kurt Samuel Panter, Bowling Green State University, kpanter@bgnet.bgsu.edu
Dexter Perkins, Univ. of North Dakota, dexter_perkins@und.edu
William Peck, Colgate University, wpeck@mail.colgate.edu
Joseph F. Reese, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, jreese@edinboro.edu
Bernhardt Saini-Eidukat, North Dakota State University, bernhardt.saini-eidukat@ndsu.nodak.edu
Ronald C. Schott, Lake Superior State University, rschott@lssu.edu
John R. Webster, Minot State University, webster@minotstateu.edu
James Welsh, Gustavus Adolphus College, welsh@gac.edu
Richard F. Wendlandt, Colorado School of Mines, rwendlan@mines.edu
Jennifer M. Wenner, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, wenner@uwosh.edu
Peter M. Whelan, University of Minnesota, Morris, whelan@mrs.umn.edu
Donna L. Whitney, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, dwhitney@umn.edu
Karl Wirth*, Macalester College, wirth@macalester.edu

* Working Group Leaders
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