Sedimentation Provenance Problem Set

Man-Yin Tsang
Dept. of Earth Sciences, University of Toronto
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Introduce students the concept of Sedimentation Provenance and how it can be studied from rock samples. Teach students to visualize mineral distributions in a basin and draw ternary QFR (quartz-feldspar-rock fragment) diagrams. Incorporate cooperative learning so students cross-check each others' work to ensure they grasp the skills in calculations and graphical presentations.

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Undergraduate required course in sedimentary geology

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Basic knowledge in Mineralogy, the composition of siliciclastic sedimentary rocks, and erosion and transport.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is a problem set used during the practical session in the week teaching siliciclastic sedimentary rocks. Students have gained the fundamental understanding of siliciclastic sedimentary rocks during a lecture. This exercise serves to further build students' knowledge of sedimentation provenance and geological practices.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

  • Sedimentation provenance;
  • use of QFR diagrams;
  • skills in calculations and graphical representation for geological purposes

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

  • Quantitative reasoning and analysis of data;
  • interpretation of results for geological purposes

Other skills goals for this activity

Peer learning: communications and justify methods among peers

Description of the activity/assignment

The QFR diagram is a useful technique in Geoscience and Engineering to decide the rock types, tectonic settings and depositional history of rock samples. Ternary diagrams are widely used in various disciplines of Science. We teach the QFR diagram every year in Sedimentation and Stratigraphy.

In this exercise, we incorporate cooperative learning that students work in groups of two to finish the problem set. Students can obtain immediate feedback from their peers, check their understanding by explaining their thoughts to each other, and promptly identify questions or misunderstandings of the course materials.

This problem set is designed by Man-Yin Tsang and Carl-Georg Bank based on an earlier problem set and thin section data from Andrew Miall at the University of Toronto. It is prepared for the course ESS331 in the Department of Earth Sciences.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Each group of students will hand in the problem set so teachers can check students' graphs, diagrams, short answers and interpretations. The changes in the abundance of easily weathered and resistant minerals suggest the drainage direction in the basin. The resulting QFR diagram suggests the provenance and represents how the relative abundance of major minerals change across the basin.
Teachers may email the author for an answer key of the problem set. Please use your institutional email and provide a URL to your institutional webpage (to show that you are the teacher).

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Supporting references/URLs

Bogg, S. 2012. Principles of Sedimentology and Stratigraphy, 5th ed. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.