GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 244-13
Presentation Time: 5:00 PM


SISSON, Virginia, Dept of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, University of Houston, HOUSTON, TX 77204; Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Houston, Houston, TX 77204 and HAUPTVOGEL, Daniel, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Houston, Houston, TX 77204

We all know that introductory lab classes are a good way to engage students. Here we focus on three different lab exercises from a new open-access lab book for Historical Geology to show how place-based exercises engage students in critical thinking beyond simple observations. The new exercises in the lab book are a global tour of geology, including the traditional US-centric locations like the Grand Canyon, Appalachians, and Rocky Mountains and exploration of the Andes Mountains, Alaska, Great Britain, Brazil, Morocco, Himalayas, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, British Columbia, Alberta as well as Mars and Jurassic Park!

For example, instead of the view of hotspots from the oceanic realm, exercises compare and contrast two parallel hotspot tracks (Yellowstone and Anahim volcanic progressions). This comparison across the continental region makes the students think about more than age progression since the size of the volcanos and lengths of the tracks differ because of their local geology. The conclusion discusses societal impacts of a continental hotspot in causing a super-eruption in an unpopulated (Anahim) versus populated area (Yellowstone). An exercise on sequence stratigraphy through the Brooks Range in Alaska is related to sea level and climate change. In addition to understanding transgressions and regressions, the students learn to interpret a simple seismic section close to the Nuiqsut village, part of the Kuukpik Arctic Slope Native Association. This brings forward the interactions between native cultures and heritage versus petroleum resources. The final lab involves mapping fossil deposits at Stevns Klint, Denmark, where students investigate fossils across a well-preserved Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary section. Then they decide why this is a UNESCO World Heritage site and what aspects of the area are worth preservation. Is it just a famous geologic site or is there more to consider about this place.

These placed based exercises were introduced during the COVID-19 transition to online classes and will be used for the first time in face-to-face sections in the Fall 2021 semester.