Southeastern Section - 54th Annual Meeting (March 17–18, 2005)

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


HARRIS, M. Scott, WRIGHT, Eric, WOLFE, Erin E. and CCU, MSCI 304L, Marine Science Department, Coastal Carolina Univ, 1270 Atlantic Avenue, Conway, SC 29526,

The marine science program (MSCI) at Coastal Carolina University (CCU) in northeastern South Carolina currently houses 611 undergraduate majors across an interdisciplinary curriculum of marine biology, marine chemistry, marine geology, and physical oceanography. As part of the MSCI core curriculum, majors complete a marine geology course typically in the sophomore year. Even with large numbers of students, the marine geology course, as an initial upper-level course, uses multi-week, field-based, research projects to teach concepts about the makeup and evolution of the coastal environment. These projects help students to employ scientific methodology, use current equipment and techniques, work as teams, learn to analyze imperfect data sets, and develop skills to manage and report on larger projects. This paper reports on the development of projects that take advantage of CCU’s close proximity to the coast (<20km) and easy access to nearby modern and emergent Pleistocene barrier island systems.

The marine geology course employs coring and geophysical techniques to collect the data for each project. In the first project, analysis of vibracore data allows for learning about sediment descriptions, stratigraphic correlation, and coastal evolution. Building on this initial project, the second project uses ground penetrating radar (GPR) and global positioning system (GPS) data across an emergent barrier coast to understand regional aspects of coastal deposits. Combined with a topography exercise on the emergent barrier systems, and an isopach exercise in the same area with topographically uncorrected GPR lines, the students compare reflector positions, topography, isopach maps, and their knowledge of stratigraphy from the modern system vibracore exercise to reconstruct ancient barrier geometries. These ideas are extended to the lower Coastal Plain of the region as an influence on modern drainage systems and human habitation patterns. By taking the students in the field, making them take ownership of the data, and allowing them to combine previously learned knowledge, they are provided an integrated semester with common themes throughout, yet providing many different facets of coastal marine geosciences.