Exploring the Upper Cretaceous Hell Creek Formation, Montana: Through the Eyes of a Stratigrapher
- Describe the macroscale features of these rocks.
- What depositional environments may be recorded by these strata?
- How could you distinguish between possible depositional environments?
- Describe the sedimentary structures observed here.
- How does this information limit the range of possible depositional environments?
- List depositional environment interpretations for each of these beds. For units that require further inspection, generate some new hypotheses and methods for testing each hypothesis.
- Compare and contrast your interpretations with other geologists
Pathway to Discovery:
Part 1 Description
Detailed outcrop descriptions are a fundamental component of stratigraphy. Bedding character, architecture, color, sedimentary structures and grain size aid depositional environment interpretation. In this section students are given outcrop photos and web resources to aid description and generation of hypotheses.
Generating and testing hypotheses form the foundation of the scientific method. Effective application of multiple working hypotheses and the scientific method is one of the most important skills students can learn because this allows them to answer a variety of "real-world" questions. This section explores the Hell Creek strata by generating and testing hypotheses that explain observations made in Part 1.
One of the most difficult tasks for students is "seeing the big" picture of the work they do and the literature they read. Making such connections is one of primary ways that truly unique, applicable ideas are formulated. In this section students are asked to summarize their interpretations and the evidence that supports their interpretations then compare and contrast their interpretations with previous work. They must then critique their own work, the work of others and suggest a future research project that addresses some unexplored or controversial aspect of the Hell Creek Formation.