Chemical Differentiation in the Palisades Sill

Matthew Gorring
,
Montclair State University
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Summary

The purpose of this assignment is for students to synthesize field observations, petrography, and whole-rock chemical analyses in order to investigate chemical differentiation processes in a basaltic magma chamber. The students first complete a petrography lab on both hand samples and thin sections that represent a complete stratigraphic section through sill at Fort Lee, NJ. I then provide them with major- and trace-element data and a table of distribution coefficients for common phases that would be crystallizing from basaltic magma. I then ask them to discuss the chemical differentiation of the sill by writing up a 1-2 page interpretative summary based on their petrographic observations and the chemical data.

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Context

Audience

This activity would be used in an undergraduate (sophomore or junior level) required course in petrology.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

How the activity is situated in the course

This is a stand-alone exercise.

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

The purpose of this assignment is for students to synthesize field observations, petrography, and whole-rock chemical analyses in order to investigate chemical differentiation processes in a basaltic magma chamber.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

This activity involves data analysis.

Other skills goals for this activity

Description of the activity/assignment

The purpose of this assignment is for students to synthesize field observations, petrography, and whole-rock chemical analyses in order to investigate chemical differentiation processes in a basaltic magma chamber. The students first complete a petrography lab on both hand samples and thin sections that represent a complete stratigraphic section through sill at Fort Lee, NJ. I then provide them with major- and trace-element data and a table of distribution coefficients for common phases that would be crystallizing from basaltic magma. I then ask them to discuss the chemical differentiation of the sill by writing up a 1-2 page interpretative summary based on their petrographic observations and the chemical data.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students have met the goals of this activity if they successfully complete the assignment.

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