2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 10:15 AM


HANSEN, Vicki L., Department of Geological Sciences, University of Minnesota Duluth, Duluth, MN 55812, vhansen@d.umn.edu

Recent exploration of our solar system through a wide range of NASA missions allow geology curriculum a low-cost, high performance alternative to field trips. Field geology across the solar system (Field GASS) allows students to learn concepts of field mapping and interpretation—but in a setting in which they are not distracted by outside elements. Students learn that geologic maps are interpretations; they learn data synthesis and how to make predictive models (hypotheses), and how to test models/hypotheses with further data collection. They also learn that the real world is not quite as neat and tidy as they might think based on lectures and textbooks. Students experience thinking through time and space, as well as the importance of history/sequence in deformation. Incredible surface data sets are easily available for: Venus, Moon, Mars, and Jupiter's moons, Callisto, Europa, Ganymede and Io (USGS Map-a-Planet; http://pdsmaps.wr.usgs.gov/). The exercise focus is not on ‘right' answers, but rather on the mapping process, and how one goes from data to testable hypotheses, as well as learning how to deal with 2D data sets to constrain 3D space and time (4D) with implications for history and process. Each planetary body presents unique puzzles or challenges, from the hot dry basalt environment of Venus, to impacted Moon, to wind-water-ice sculpted Mars, to the most volcanically active planet of Io (driven by tidal heating rather than Earth's more familiar interior processes), to icey surfaces of Callisto, Europa, and Ganymede, each unique in first-order processes. Students explore exogenic to endogenic processes, to how to construct a geologic map, to scale and resolution issues, to various types of remote data sets.

Field GASS side steps insurance issues (no 15-passenger vans!), scheduling, and budget and safety issues. Students can be guided, or explore individually; they can return to field areas repeated allowing true iterative and step-wise learning building individual foundation at their own rate. Perhaps most importantly, field GASS introduces student to true field mapping and geologic inquiry, in which single unique answers are non-existent, and puzzling and exploration are critical. Field GASS opportunities are endless and out of this world, with departures any time.