WHY AND HOW TO INCLUDE GRAIN-SCALE DEFORMATION MECHANISMS, MICROSTRUCTURES, AND RHEOLOGY IN UNDERGRADUATE STRUCTURAL GEOLOGY COURSES
The study of deformation mechanisms, microstructures and rheology allows students to correlate grain-scale features and processes to those developed at hand sample, outcrop and regional scales, and to confront how deformation rates relate to rock strength at different depths in the crust. Students trained to recognize and understand the actual processes of both brittle and ductile deformation are better able to critically analyze the bulk behavior of rocks in different geologic settings.
To facilitate the incorporation of deformation mechanisms and microstructures into structural geology courses, our working group has developed short teaching modules on critical concepts (e.g. cataclastic flow, diffusion and pressure solution, dislocation creep) that can be incorporated into existing courses during discussion of related topics (e.g. faults, foliations, folds). These modules include instructors notes, key diagrams, annotated photos, possible handouts, and ideas for class or lab demonstrations and activities. The modules and supplemental resources (e.g. animations, analogs, articles) can be found at http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/structure04. Additional contributions to this resource bank from all geoscientists are welcome.