Fluvial and Alluvial Sedimentology Incorporating Google Earth

Elizabeth Cassel
Stanford University (now at Franklin and Marshall College)
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A lab activity for an undergraduate sedimentary geology course focused on fluvial and alluvial sedimentology, incorporating Google Earth.

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Can be used with large or small classes. Lab requirements: each pair of students have access to a computer during class; each part requires a good set of samples - adapt as appropriate with samples available.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students have been introduced to sediment transport equations and fluvial/alluvial depositional environments in lecture, and have completed labs on sedimentary structures and sedimentary rock identification previously.

How the activity is situated in the course

This lab appears in the second half of the course during lectures on various depositional environments.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

  1. Identify and describe different terrestrial depositional environments from maps and photos.
  2. Describe and analyze alluvial and fluvial sedimentary rock hand samples, and interpret an environment of deposition.
  3. Compare and contrast features of meandering and braided streams, and predict types and features of sedimentary rocks deposited by them.
  4. Use measurements of slope and grain size in basic sediment transport equations to quantify grain movement and the relationships between topographic, sediment, and fluid variables.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Other skills goals for this activity

Description of the activity/assignment

Students should download Google Earth and the kmz file prior to class if using personal computers, otherwise both should be downloaded on class computers. In class time is one lab period, with some out of class time; ~6 hrs total.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Grading based on key.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

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