Northeastern Section - 54th Annual Meeting - 2019

Paper No. 18-6
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


EVANS, Stephanie C., FANSLER, Jenny and EVANS, Kathryn, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47401

This study emphasizes the means by which field-based courses profoundly enrich geoscience education. Field-courses offered at Indiana University bridge the gap between the field and classroom by giving students hands-on experience with soil and rock description, hand lens petrography, Brunton compass and geologic mapping skills, and other field screening techniques. Field courses teach future geologists the foundational skills to be independent geoscientists post-graduation. Field trips to the Northern Appalachians in New England, the St. Francois Mountains of Missouri, the Tobacco Root Mountains in Montana, and the many world-class limestone exposures near the Bloomington campus give students the opportunity to interpret sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks produced by a wide range of geological processes that significantly add to their ongoing education, outside of the classroom. Students are encouraged to use critical thinking at planned outcrops in order to synthesize geological, chemical, mathematical, and logistical interpretations to better understand the environment/s they were once exposed to. With a set of tools (Brunton compass, rock hammer, hand lens, and guidebook) students can collaborate and apply the skills learned in the classroom to aid their discoveries/hypotheses found in the field. Instead of briefing students on what to expect at any outcrop, students are expected to make their own observations and develop their own interpretations. Students’ observations of mineralogy, fabric elements, and brittle structures yield interpretations that can be tested while still on the outcrop. Students plot their structural measurements on a field stereonet to visualize inferred stresses and compare structures from other outcrops. Students then develop schematic diagrams, detailing, for example, the thermal or strain history of an outcrop. Integration of these observations over a multi-day field course ultimately leads to an understanding of regional geology that the students have generated themselves. Self-confidence, problem-solving, and scale are all emphasized in the field; understanding scale outside of the classroom is critical in being a fully immersed geoscientist. Our results corroborate the adage that the best geoscientists are those who see the most rocks.