InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Humans' Dependence on Earth's Mineral Resources > Unit 4: Mineral Resources Created by Sedimentary Processes
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Unit 4: Mineral Resources Created by Sedimentary Processes

Joy Branlund (Southwestern Illinois College)
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This material was developed and reviewed through the InTeGrate curricular materials development process. This rigorous, structured process includes:

  • team-based development to ensure materials are appropriate across multiple educational settings.
  • multiple iterative reviews and feedback cycles through the course of material development with input to the authoring team from both project editors and an external assessment team.
  • real in-class testing of materials in at least 3 institutions with external review of student assessment data.
  • multiple reviews to ensure the materials meet the InTeGrate materials rubric which codifies best practices in curricular development, student assessment and pedagogic techniques.
  • review by external experts for accuracy of the science content.


This page first made public: Oct 16, 2014

Summary

In this unit, students will learn about sedimentary processes and the rocks they form. Activities are specifically designed to address topics such as clastic sedimentary processes, chemical weathering, and how such processes form heavy mineral sand deposits. This unit will also explore the chemical sedimentary processes that form salt deposits.

Learning Goals

Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:

  • Describe the processes that act to make sedimentary rocks with specific reference to how sedimentary processes redistribute and concentrate mineral resources.
  • Diagram how the processes link together to form mineral resources, specifically with regards to placer (heavy mineral sands) and evaporite (salt) deposits.
  • Apply knowledge of sedimentary environment, climate, and sedimentary processes to infer potential types and locations of mineral resources.
  • Give examples and uses of mineral resources that are formed by sedimentary processes.

Context for Use

Three activities are included to reinforce knowledge of sedimentary processes, especially physical processes (Mining Sand Activity) and chemical processes (Mining Salt Activity). The Review/Practice should be done after students have read about sedimentary processes, but before the other sedimentary activities (Mining Sand and Mining Salt). This unit is meant to stress sedimentary processes, so it should be used in classes with a rock cycle learning objective. In the Mining Sand activity, students (ideally in groups) will analyze data and answer questions regarding the weathering, erosion, and depositional processes responsible for concentrating shoreline titanium placer deposits in Florida. In the Mining Salt activity, students will research two types of salt deposits---solar salt (e.g., facilities in Bahamas) and rock salt (e.g., Heber City, Utah). Students will compare and contrast the two types of salt deposits by creating a concept map.

This activity can be completed in classes of any size, as well as in online settings with some modification.

Description and Teaching Materials

Students will read about sedimentary processes and mineral resources formed by these processes. This unit will begin with Activity 1, reviewing important concepts of sedimentary rocks. Activity 2 asks students to apply information about the processes that form clastic sedimentary rocks to heavy mineral sands mined for titanium dioxide in Florida. Ideally, these activities should be completed in groups. The final activity focuses on processes that create chemical sedimentary rocks (rock salt).

Pre-Class Work

The pre-class reading provided below is intended to introduce students to important concepts within this unit and to expose students to additional information that may not be covered during class. If instructors feel that they want to review all of the concepts addressed in these readings during class, they will need to modify the activities. All file types below discuss the same material, and instructors can select which they would like to assign to their students. The instructor can edit the presentation as necessary for use during class.

Readings

PowerPoint version

Background Information about Sedimentary Rocks. (PowerPoint 21.3MB Oct5 14) Students can download this PowerPoint directly from the Unit 4 Student Materials page.

Word/PDF versions

Background Information about Sedimentary Rocks in Word (Microsoft Word 1.6MB Oct5 14) and in PDF. (Acrobat (PDF) 6.4MB Oct5 14) Students can download the PDF version directly from the Unit 4 Student Materials page or complete a similar online reading on the Unit 4 Student Materials Reading page.
Unit 4 Glossary of Terms in Word (Microsoft Word 30kB Oct5 14) and in PDF. (Acrobat (PDF) 49kB Oct5 14) Students can download this glossary directly from the Unit 4 Student Materials page.

Diagram: Sedimentary Rocks and Processes in PDF (Acrobat (PDF) 63kB Aug8 14) and in PowerPoint. (PowerPoint 131kB Oct5 14) This diagram is also included in the PDF version of the reading.

In-Class Work:

Activity 1: Review of Sedimentary Processes (~15 minutes)

As a class, students review and practice topics covered in the pre-class reading. This activity also reminds students of some of the topics covered in the mining unit (Unit 3).

Activity 2: Mining Sand (~35 minutes)

Students explore sedimentary processes that act to concentrate heavy minerals (e.g., ilmenite) in sands mined by DuPont in Florida. This is meant to be a small-group activity, but it can be completed individually. This activity incorporates topics also discussed in Unit 1 and Unit 3 of this module.

Post-Class Work:

Homework: Mining Salt (or optional in-class activity taking approximately 25 minutes)

Students research two different types of salt mines and create concept maps about the formation and mining of the salt deposits. Minerals and mineral resources (Unit 1) and mining (Unit 3) are also touched upon in this activity.

Teaching Notes and Tips

If students have not completed the background readings before class, the instructor will need to spend more class time presenting sedimentary processes. However, students who did the pre-class work can complete at least the first two activities as described above.

Assessment

See activity sheets for embedded assessments.

Assessments and Learning Outcomes

The learning outcomes are addressed by the activities as listed below (see activity sheets for more details):

  • Describe the processes that act to make sedimentary rocks, with specific reference to how sedimentary processes redistribute and concentrate mineral resources: Pre-class reading, Review/Practice of Sedimentary Concepts (mechanical weathering, chemical weathering, erosion), Mining Sand Activity (erosion, deposition and chemical weathering), Mining Salt Homework (crystallization, deposition, lithification).
  • Diagram how the processes link together to form mineral resources, specifically with regards to placer (heavy mineral sands) and evaporite (salt) deposits: Mining Sand Activity.
  • Apply knowledge of sedimentary environment, climate, and sedimentary processes to infer potential types and locations of mineral resources: Review/Practice of Sedimentary Concepts, Mining Sand Activity, Mining Salt Homework.
  • Give examples and uses of mineral resources that are formed by sedimentary processes: Pre-class reading, Mining Sand Activity, Mining Salt Homework.

Possible Exam Questions

Unit 4 Potential Assessment Questions in Word


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and
in PDF.


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Unit 4 Potential Assessment Questions Key in Word


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and
in PDF.


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Student Self-Assessment
Unit 4 Self-Assessment Questions in Word (Microsoft Word 61kB Oct5 14) and in PDF. (Acrobat (PDF) 143kB Oct5 14) These can also be found in the Unit 4 Student Materials Reading.

Unit 4 Self-Assessment Questions Key in Word (Microsoft Word 61kB Oct5 14) and in PDF. (Acrobat (PDF) 151kB Oct5 14)

References and Resources

See activity sheets for references.

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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »