2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 41
Presentation Time: 6:30 PM-8:30 PM


GOEDEN, Jeffrey, Geology, Univ of St. Thomas, 2115 Summit Ave, St. Paul, MN 55105, LAMB, Melissa A., Geology Department, Univ of St. Thomas, OWS 153, 2115 Summit Ave, St. Paul, MN 55105 and HICKSON, Thomas A., Department of Geology, Univ of St. Thomas, 2115 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105, jcgoeden@stthomas.edu

The University of St. Thomas Geology Department provides field experience opportunities for nearly every course offered. There are two, however, that provide much more: an introductory field course and an advanced field course. These are each taught as a month-long course during January term. Students are encouraged to take the first field course after one introductory geology class. This early field experience provides a solid foundation in the basics that is key for better understanding of difficult concepts in upper-division classes. It also serves as an important second science course for non-majors.

The advanced field course is typically taken during the senior year and allows students to use the skills and knowledge acquired from previous field work and courses. Students work on original research with guidance from the faculty. In 2004, the course consisted of two projects, the Bitter Spring Project and the Snowball Earth project. The Bitter Spring Project objective was to collect data by detailed mapping, measuring stratigraphic sections, and collecting ash samples. This area had never been mapped in detail and could provide valuable evidence for the tectonic evolution of the southern basin and range province. The Snowball Earth Project involved using a gamma spectrometer to take K, U, and Th readings of the Noonday Dolomite, a cap carbonate in Death Valley, to see if it has a unique gamma signature compared to other carbonates, hopefully shedding light on details of the snowball Earth theory. Data from this advanced field study served as a foundation for a senior capstone course and the results were presented by the students at the spring meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

We believe that this integration of field-based courses and research across the geology curriculum, culminating in a senior capstone experience, allows students to grasp the main concepts of a geology major effectively and in great depth