Post-Settlement Erosion and Deposition
This material was originally developed as part of the Carleton College Teaching Activity Collection
through its collaboration with the SERC Pedagogic Service.
- working in groups
- collecting new data in the field
- collecting and working with quantitative data
- close reading of a professional article and associated commentary and debate
- writing a lab report in the format of a scientific article
Context for Use
A version of this exercise can be constructed for any area of the country where agriculture, grazing and/or urbanization has altered the landscape. See references at the end of the .pdf file to resources for the Pacific Northwest and desert Southwest.
Look for the following characteristics in choosing a field site:
- An area that can be covered on foot in a single lab period (less than one km2)
- A stream valley that has been partially filled with sediment and later incised, so that sedimentary features of the fill are visible
- Permission from all landowners for access
- Metric ruler
- Notebook and sharp hard pencil for taking notes
- Field clothes (long pants, long sleeves, boots)
Instructors should provide:
- 50 m tapes
- Two meter sticks
- Base maps of field area
Teaching Notes and Tips
- Many students will not read the Trimble paper carefully until after they return from the field. Thus, it is important to take time in the field to explain how their field measurements can be translated into volumes of material deposited and eroded.
- You may want to divide the field site and have each small group of three students measure part of it. Each group's results could then be posted to the entire class.
- Make a base map for the students from an air photo or topographic map. [Link to "How to find an air photo of your area?]
For this assignment specifically:
- Does the paper have appropriate sections and subheadings?
- Do each of the sections contain the appropriate content?
- Are all three questions addressed in the discussion?
- Are results reported accurately and clearly? Were enough measurements taken?
- Does the paper show a reasonable level of understanding of the geological history and how humans may have influenced this history?
- Can I tell from the paper that the students have read the Trimble article and its relatives?
References and Resources
- Trimble, Stanley W., 1999, Decreased Rates of Alluvial Sediment Storage in the Coon Creek Basin, Wisconsin, 1975-93: Science, v. 285, p. 1244-1246.
- Glanz, James, 1999, Sharp Drop seen in Soil Erosion Rates: Science, v. 285, p.1187-1189
- Pimentel, David, Skidmore, Edward L., Trimble, Stanley W., 1999, Rates of Soil Erosion: Science, v. 286: p. 1477. (19 November issue)
- Trimble, Stanley W. and Pierre Crosson, 2000, U. S. Soil Erosion Rates - Myth and Reality: Science, v. 289, p. 248-250. (14 July 2000 issue)
- M. A. Nearing, M. J. M. Romkens, L. D. Norton, D. E. Stott, F. E. Rhoton, J. M. Laflen, D. C. Flanagan, C. V. Alonso, R. L. Binger, S. M. Dabney, O. C. Doering, C. H. Huang, K. C. McGregor, A. Simon; Stanley W. Trimble, and Pierre Crosson, 2000, Measurements and Models of Soil Loss Rates: Science, v. 290, p. 1300-1301 (17 November issue)
(Both of the previous are in the August 20 1999 issue).
(This is a comment and response to Trimble's original article)
(This is a letter and response to the Trimble and Crosson article).