Benjamin Crosby: Using High Precision Positioning with Static and Kinematic GPS/GNSS in GEOL 3315: Evolution of the Earth's Surface at Idaho State University

About this Course

Undergraduate, academic year, on-campus, mixed lower and upper division students majoring in Geology, Earth and Environmental Sciences and Education.


Course two 75-minute lectures and one 3-hour lab

Syllabus for Evolution of Earth Surface (Acrobat (PDF) 505kB Apr23 18)

The module is used sparingly in this course to introduce students to mass movement processes and how we can track their creeping movement with geotechnologies. The experience is broken down into two sessions: a 3-hour lecture/lab introducing the students to GPS/GNSS followed by a 1-day field trip to a field site with an actively creeping landslide. All data processing is done by the instructor and was delivered to the students as a completed product. They used these results to evaluate change in terms of accuracy and precision, as well as to analyze the geomorphic significance.

This exercise is one of the first times students collect their own quantitative data in the field and are able to detect patterns and construct hypotheses based on those data.

My Experience Teaching with GETSI Materials

Module was modified and streamlined to fit the needs. The Unit 1 lecture was immediately followed with the Unit 2 lecture introducing students to kinematic systems. We then went into the field on campus and learned about the hardware and completed a concept sketch to let these ideas gel. On the weekend, we took these skills and applied them to track movement of ~80 monuments on a creeping landslide.

Relationship of GETSI Materials to my Course

The module is one of many week-long projects that the students do. It would be great to have it more integrated through the semester, but we do not return to GNSS again.


Concept sketch summative assessments were enjoyed by the students and they had long arguments regarding the interpretation of the results from the landslide. I would prefer to have students do the post-processing, spatial analysis, and plot generation, but there is not sufficient time or expertise in the class to make this happen in a reasonable time.


At the end of the exercise, the students had learned both the technical skills necessary to operate the hardware, as well as the geomorphic skills necessary to interpret the results. This was the primary aim for using the module in this course (essentially Module Goal 1 only).