My Geologic Address: Locating Oneself in Geologic Time and Process
This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection
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- Scientific Accuracy
- Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
- Pedagogic Effectiveness
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This page first made public: May 9, 2012
In this exercise students find a location, such as school or home, on a series of geologic maps working from small to large scale. Map keys and map features are consulted in order to compose a "geologic address" from the most specific to the most general descriptor.
Maps are selected by the instructor to represent local, regional, and global scales as well as magnetic, gravitational, and tectonic features.
Methods of GeoscienceGeologic maps are spatial representations of temporal relationships. They codify patterns of interaction and geologic processes across scales in time and space. Interpreting maps, and recognizing the wealth of data they encode in visual fashion, is crucial to geological reasoning.
Context for Use
Description and Teaching Materials
The end product is a geologic address, shared by the student. The following is an example:
Intersection of the Bolton Fault with the Oswego Canyon
Adjacent to outcrop of pillowed lavas
Atop Columbia River Flood Basalt, Wanapum Unit, Miocene Age
In the Tualatin Mountains, the eastern limit of the
Oregon Coast Range, Pleisto-Pliocene uplift
Cascadia Subduction Zone, west of the Cascade Volcanics
On the North American Plate near its collision boundary with the Juan De Fuca Plate.
Different students will note different features at various level of detail. Explanining and clarifying their descriptions of "my geologic address" draws attention to multiple scales for interpreting geologic events and how maps represent such understanding.
Each instructor needs to assemble a set of maps appropriate to location and expertise. I have used this exercise as an exploration prior to field study and as a synthesis after touring and interpreting local sites.