2003 Seattle Annual Meeting (November 2–5, 2003)
Paper No. 207-12
Presentation Time: 11:00 AM-11:15 AM

WHEN LOCAL GEOLOGY ISN’T ENOUGH: CONSTRUCTING ARTIFICIAL OUTCROPS TO ENHANCE STUDENT LEARNING

MATTY, David J., Department of Geology, Central Michigan University, 314 Brooks Hall, Mount Pleasant, MI 48859, matty1dj@cmich.edu.

Many educational institutions are blessed with close proximity to outcrops of “real rocks” that makes visualizing and understanding the three-dimensional nature of strata easier for students. In the Central Michigan area, the nearest significant outcrops are 125 km away, and studies of local geology thus focus on surface exposures of Pleistocene glacial drift, streams, and groundwater. To combat this deficiency, we have worked with our institutional administration, planners and facilities management personnel to enhance the campus learning environment through the construction of a variety of artificial outcrops. For the most part, these efforts were made possible primarily through budgeted landscaping funds tied to building construction. To date, more than 2x105 kilograms of rock from regional sources have been used to construct numerous “outcrops” across campus. The simplest are boulder groupings scattered across campus that provide students with a variety of basic lithologies for study; these augment lower and upper level courses. Designed to enhance understanding of deformation and geologic time, a complex folded structure comprising a series of dolostone, limestone, granite, gneiss and iron formation “outcrops,” and covering over 60,000 meters2, has also been constructed. Students in introductory courses use this structure to learn about strike and dip, and to visualize and understand more fully unconformities, folds, and erosion. Geology majors and minors expand their studies of the structure in their field methods course, where they practice strike and dip measurement, measure the apparent thickness of strata, construct geologic maps, and interpret a simple set of plunging anticlines and synclines. In the structural geology course, majors again expand their areal investigations of the structure to include two new segments, which introduce 1) a second generation of folding and 2) a complex nonconformity. These added complications require the measurement of foliations in igneous/metamorphic “outcrops” and the evaluation of structural elements from different apparent ages to develop an interpretive geologic history. Where the paucity of true outcrops precludes direct “hands-on” learning, the construction of artificial outcrops may be a viable, cost-effective, and aesthetic option.

2003 Seattle Annual Meeting (November 2–5, 2003)
Session No. 207
Teaching Local Geology: An NAGT Session In Honor of Robert Christman
Washington State Convention and Trade Center: 2A
8:00 AM-12:00 PM, Wednesday, November 5, 2003

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 35, No. 6, September 2003, p. 525

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