Roadside and Engineering Geology of Auke Bay, Juneau Alaska

Cathy Connor
University Alaska Southeast
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Final lab for an Introductory Physical Geology class. Students apply a semester of learned geology skills toward evaluating house building sites near our campus. They encounter evidence of faulting, mass wasting, isostatic rebound, and ancient Alaskans as part of the exercise.

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Introductory Physical Geology for science majors and non majors

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students practice strike and dip measurements, observation of geomorphic and bedrock features, and put together the local geology while thinking about geologic hazards that can adversely affect home-owners.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is a capstone exercise and the last lab of the semester.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Nature of natural hazards in uplifting, and rapidly warming northern southeast Alaska.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

During a 3 hour lab session students visit 6 sites with varying natural hazards. They collect their own soil, bedrock, and structural data, analyze additional pre-collected data, and produce a consultant's report to the City and Borough of Juneau as hypothetical engineering geologists hired as consultants.

Other skills goals for this activity

Students polish their writing and organizational skills in combining geologic data with their final recommendations about which sites are best for building and why. They must analyze and reflect on the entire semester's-worth of information to produce a high-quality report.

Description of the activity/assignment

Students have learned the rudiments of outcrop evaluation, surveying and mapping of geomorphic features, and the hazards of urbanization in Juneau's glacierized and high relief terrain. Their task in this lab is to assess geologic hazards inherent in the landscape by collecting structural data and making observations at 6 sites with interesting features. They use their field notes as a basis for writing an engineering geology report to the city with their recommendations for site selection for home building.

Determining whether students have met the goals

I evaluate the students based on the acuity of their field notes, and the writing in their final report sections (cover memo, purpose, methods, data, analysis, conclusions, references sited)

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