Virtual Geological Mapping and Development of Geospatial Analysis Competencies Using Google Earth and Related Digital technologies

Declan De Paor, Old Dominion University

Field geology, especially structural and tectonic mapping, has long been a central part of geoscience education. Many programs require a residential field camp as a capstone course and many students express great enthusiasm about their structural mapping experiences. However, there is evidence that fieldwork deters underrepresented minorities and agility requirements limit access of sessile students to geoscience desk jobs. (Sessile students are those who are either unwilling or unable to go to the field in person for physical, economic, or cultural reasons). As part of a large NSF-funded collaboration called GEODE (Google Earth for Onsite and Distance Education) we are working to enable students to acquire competencies in geospatial analysis using Google mapping tools and related technologies. These include Google Maps, Google Earth, Google Maps Engine, Google Earth Engine, and associated visualization tools such as GigaPans, GigaMacros, Photospheres, and COLLADA models. These technologies allow students to take a 'grand tour,' virtually visiting a global range of tectonic settings on Earth and other planets and moons. Students can learn geospatial concepts and competencies in an engaging game-like setting and can access big geodata for authentic undergraduate research opportunities. In addition to serving the needs of sessile students, we anticipate that digital geospatial learning resources will help agile students by augmenting their physics field experiences.

*The GEODE collaboration includes: Heather Almquist, Callan Bentley, Aurthur Bern, Stephen Burgin, Meredith Butler, Cinzia Cervato, Chloe Constants, Gene Cooper, Declan De Paor, Mladen Dordevic, Andy Dunaway, Janice Gobert, Paul Karabinos, Filis McGuirk, Terry Pavlis, Jen Piatek, Cari Rand, Bill Richards, Nathan Rogers, Robin Rohrback, Jeff Ryan, Ron Schott, Kristen St John, Barb Tewksbury, Swaraj Wankhade, and Steve Whitmeyer.