Overview: Rupturing Continental Lithosphere Mini-Lesson Sequence
The RCL mini-lesson sequence comprises:
- Introduction - This introductory page highlights the NSF-MARGINS Rupturing Continental Lithosphere research initiative and the processes and factors that control rifting and lithospheric rupture. This page also introduces the individual mini-lessons that explore these characteristics and controlling factors.
- Bathymetry of Rifted Margins - A module in which students investigate the morphology of rifted margins by creating topographic profiles and describe north-to-south variations in basin morphology in the Gulf of California. This lesson can act as an introduction to more detailed examinations of the roles of sedimentation and obliquity in rifted margins.
- Exploring Styles of Extension in the Gulf of California - A module that serves as an introduction to continental rifting and extensional features. Students are introduced to different styles of deformation during continental rupture. Examples of geophysical data (e.g. seismic reflection) are used to explore the variety of extensional features in the Gulf of California through space and time.
- Role of Sedimentation in Rifting - A module in which students will use observations from the Gulf of California to solve isostasy problems based on Gulf of California basins. Designed to accompany the bathymetry module.
- Role of Plate Motion Obliquity in Rifting - A module that uses Euler poles to describe the relative motion between the Baja Microplate and North American Plate, highlighting how the obliquity of rifting changes along strike in the Gulf of California.
The mini-lessons can be used together or individually. The information in the introductory lecture provides an overview of the RCL project and its main science results, while the wrap-up presentations for each mini-lesson summarize those lessons while placing them in the context of the other lessons.
If students complete all or several modules within this RCL mini-lesson sequence, they should be able to:
- relate physical characteristics of the Gulf of California to processes that cause rifting and lithospheric rupture
- explain what new insights regarding rifting have come out of recent Gulf of California research
The mini-lessons develop technical skills in:
Context for Use
Upper-division course in Structural Geology, Plate Tectonics, or Regional Tectonics
This RCL mini-lesson sequence contains 5 parts — an introductory presentation and 4 teaching modules — allowing flexibility based on course duration, time constraints, and scope. Instructors can use all RCL mini-lesson materials provided (~15–20 hours), or select individual modules (~2–3 hours each) to use in the classroom (see schematic flow chart). We recommend that users of individual modules start with the Introductory Lecture and exercise about rift bathymetry (this page) and follow with any selected module.
Description and Teaching Materials
Introductory Lecture (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 2.5MB Sep11 15) (15 minutes): A brief introduction to the NSF-MARGINS Rupturing Continental Lithosphere research initiative and the processes and factors that control rifting and lithospheric rupture.
RCL Mini-Lesson Wrap Up Lecture (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 8.4MB Nov3 15) (15-40 minutes): A lecture that provides a summary of all RCL research findings as explored in the various mini-lessons. The slides in this presentation can be used to wrap-up the mini-lessons that were used, as well as summarize the scientific results presented in mini-lessons that were not.
Individual RCL mini-lessons provide exercises and/or test questions with answer keys.