2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 304-12
Presentation Time: 11:45 AM


WEBBER, Amy, Department of Geosciences, University of Texas at Dallas, 800 W. Campbell Rd, Richardson, TX 75083 and STERN, Robert, Geosciences Department, University of Texas at Dallas, 800 W. Campbell Road, Richardson TX 75080-3021, Texas, TX TX 75080-302

The keys to understanding of petrology at the undergraduate level should be built on a firm foundation of chemistry and mineralogy, but instilling this foundation is increasingly challenging because many Departments have reduced the number of classes in mineralogy and petrology that undergraduate Geoscience majors are required to take. At the same time, additional complex concepts like trace elements and isotopes have been added to undergraduate petrology classes. New approaches for linking chemical fundamentals, mineralogy, and rock compositions are needed so students can better understand, relate, and integrate these foundations of our science. Inspired by Ward’s Complete Rock and Mineral Specimens Card Set, we designed a 52 card + 4 “jokers” deck of customized playing cards for this purpose. The four “suits” – divergent margin, convergent margin, transform margin, and plume – are intended to remind students that magmas are caused by Plate Tectonic processes. The 13 minerals – olivine, clinopyroxene, orthopyroxene, hornblende, biotite, anorthite, albite, muscovite, orthoclase, microcline, quartz, spinel, and apatite – include the most important igneous rock-forming minerals. The “jokers” are two silica-undersaturated minerals, nepheline and leucite. Card faces show minerals in hand sample and thin section, around which the chemical formula, crystal system, and density are written. We are still exploring ways to use these cards in petrology class, as well as outside of the class, and invite others to suggest ways for undergraduate students to use these cards to better instill important concepts such as Bowen’s Reaction Series or the mineral composition of rocks like granite and gabbro. Repetition is key to helping students remember such concepts, and this is more likely in a group activities. We think that by making such concepts into a game it will encourage students to better engage with key concepts without over-emphasizing memorization. A demonstration of the cards, as well as additional decks, will be available for students and educators to play with and view, to confirm the benefits of using such cards to better teach and learn key petrology nomenclature and concepts.