Geology of New York State
This course, intended for in-service science teachers who may not possess a geoscience background, is designed as a systematic approach to understanding the entirety of geology as recorded by earth materials, and those found in New York State in particular. The course is not intended to substitute for discipline-specific courses, but is meant to be an application of basics of physical geology in a systems context. New York State geology is particularly appropriate for this course because geologic time recorded spans almost 1.5 billion years and every aspect of the science from mineralogy-petrology to paleontology-sedimentology-stratigraphy to glaciology-geomorphology to structural geology-tectonics. The early part of the course is devoted to learning and re-emphasizing the essential tools of the geologist, including a command of the basics. Otherwise the course is designed in three parts that are integrated throughout in the context of the State's record of the geologic system.
For Dr. Solar's reflections on the course and its design, see Geology of New York: Role in the Program.
- Understand the geology of the state of New York by region, state-wide assessment, and North American context;
- Understand and apply key concepts of geology through inquiry;
- recognize and evaluate the interconnection between different Earth processes, and their systematic nature;
- Be able to reflect upon geology as a set of processes, not disconnected facts to be memorized;
- Be adept at quantitative and critical analysis;
- Be effective oral communicators of science.
This second-level introductory course is designed for in-service teachers to examine the entirety of geology as recorded by earth materials found in New York State. This is a tall order in a single class for two reasons. First, New York State geology spans almost 1.5 billion years of earth history and every aspect of the science from mineralogy and petrology to glaciology and geomorphology to structural geology and tectonics. Second, the intended student audience may or may not have any more experience in the Earth sciences beyond the introductory survey course. Therefore, the course is designed so that with some background information early on (to be reinforced during the course as needed) so the goal of examining New York State geology is easily done by anyone both in detail and in the 'big picture'.
The early part of the course is devoted to learning the essential tools of the geologist, including a command of the basics (e.g., mineral and rock identification skills). Beyond this introductory stage, the course is designed in three parts (bedrock geology, surficial geology, and geology and people). However, it is to be plain that these parts although separable on geology-discipline grounds, are not necessarily independent topics for the geology of the State. The Adirondack Mountains are a prime example of how old mountains can be renewed by younger geological processes. Because of this, it is the intent of the course design to integrate disciplines in the context of the State. The course is not intended to replace an education in the specific geology disciplines covered in other courses.
- Examination of course content (all goals);
- Laboratory assignments using maps, rocks and fossil specimens from New York State outcrops (goal 5);
- Term research project on an aspect of New York State geology (goals 2-5);
- Oral presentation of the term project (goal 6).
References and Notes:
Isachsen et al., 2000, Geology of New York, A Simplified Account, 2nd Ed., New York State Museum, Educational Leaflet 28.
New York State Museum, geology pages - highly recommended
webmineral.com (a resource for mineral indentification and data)