Northeastern (46th Annual) and North-Central (45th Annual) Joint Meeting (20–22 March 2011)

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


PIATEK, Jennifer L.1, KAIRIES BEATTY, Candace L.2, BEATTY, William Lee3, WIZEVICH, Michael C.1 and EVANS, Mark A.1, (1)Dept. of Physics and Earth Sciences, Central Connecticut State University, 506 Copernicus Hall, 1615 Stanley St, New Britain, CT 06050, (2)Department of Geoscience, Winona State University, Winona, MN 55987, (3)Department of Geoscience, Winona State University, 175 W. Mark St, Winona, MN 55987,

Geology is an inherently visual science, yet often as educators we rely on traditional text-based lectures supplemented with field photographs (limited to single scales) to convey concepts in the classroom. The primary goal of this project is to develop virtual field experiences for students via exercises that focus on observation of outcrops and landscapes at multiple scales to demonstrate key concepts for situations where field trips are impractical or impossible. A second intent is to enhance laboratory exercises (hand sample and thin section analyses) by encapsulating the field geology of sample suites.

The tier-scalable approach utilizes high-resolution GigaPan panoramas, which allow students to view landscapes and outcrops at multiple scales. The panorama viewer can be used to view the full image, but also to zoom in to see details at the limits of the camera resolution. Exercises initially explore features within the panorama and the relationship of that location to a map and/or overhead view (by geolocation of the pan within Google Earth, for example). The panoramas can then be augmented by use of related hand samples and thin sections (as appropriate to the class level), giving the students an additional scale of view.

The ultimate goal is development of a series of panorama/hand sample/thin section exercises that can be utilized in a variety of undergraduate courses from introductory to upper level. Introductory exercises employ both panoramas and hand samples to give students experience in rock identification in conjunction with exploration of related landscapes. Intermediate and advanced exercises challenge students to integrate their interpretations of processes visible in landscapes with information from analysis of both hand sample and thin section.