Paper No. 44
Presentation Time: 6:30 PM-8:30 PM
FIELD EXPERIENCE IN UTAH AS A CAPSTONE COURSE FOR GEOLOGY MAJORS
The Ohio State University has conducted a summer geological field course in central Utah since 1947, when Edmund Spieker designed a course aimed at providing young geologists with valid experiences with professional field work as well as affording field-based research opportunities for undergraduates, graduate students and faculty. In the spirit initiated by Spieker, the Dept. of Geological Sciences has continued to evolve the field course to serve as a capstone experience for undergraduate geology majors, through the contributions of many faculty over the last 5.5 decades. We have also continued to use our base at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, as a logistical platform to involve graduate students in field research. Central Utah is an ideal locale for this effort because geological problems range from simple, suited for our beginning students, to complex, serving to involve students in controversial interpretations that form ongoing points of debate in the published literature. Like many geological programs based in the Midwest region, we face the challenge of introducing students to geological problem solving in an area lacking significant topography, range of rock types, and deformation features. In Utah, students are exposed to the rock record of geological events ranging from Proterozoic to Recent, and particularly to the spectacular record of synorogenic sedimentation and tectonism associated with the Sevier thrust belt. In the field course, we aim to develop their analytical and technical skills through a series of mapping exercises of increasing complexity, incorporating subsurface data, GPS, and computer-based visualizations and data analysis. Students acquire a grasp of the spatial and temporal scale of geological systems and processes through mapping, transects and cross sections, and regional field trips. The opportunity to apply the knowledge acquired in the classroom to real geological problems provides a review of geological principles, and allows them to assimilate aspects of geology previously compartmentalized in discrete classes into an integrated geological understanding, perhaps for the first time. Students learn to work in teams, to construct interpretations from limited data, and to synthesize observations to construct geological histories of field areas.