2007 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (28–31 October 2007)

Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 8:45 AM


ROBERTS, Sheila M., Department of Environmental Sciences, Univ of Montana Western, Dillon, MT 59725, sheila.roberts@umwestern.edu

Genuinely interdisciplinary field experiences for undergraduates can be achieved by linking activities of different geosciences classes into a research sequence. Students gain a deeper understanding of interdisciplinary interaction in research, more significant research can be completed (more satisfying for the professor), and arranging field projects is simplified because certain aspects do not have to be duplicated. For example, I linked the field research projects of two different classes to study a nearby BLM site that was of archeological interest. Agency archeologists wanted a better understanding of the geomorphology of the area in order to pick sites for exploratory pits. They also hoped to direct an exploratory excavation and interpret the geomorphic history using buried soil horizons, if present. In fall 2006, the Surface Processes class surveyed the area and produced maps with 2-ft contour intervals. They performed several other landscape studies and recommended three sites for digs, based on their work. In spring 2007, the Soils Science class completed a battery of studies of the modern soils in the same area and participated in archeological excavations at two of the recommended sites. We discovered four paleosols that correlated between the two pits and with occurrences of artifacts. Students in the Surface Processes class presented their work to the Montana Archeological Society in April 2007 and the Soils class project will be presented to the same group in 2008. The extended association with BLM personnel has been a great advantage for everybody, even translating to student internships and letters of recommendation.