Geology - Course Description

Monday, August 13, 2012

This course begins with the consideration of several seminal insights that marked the birth of geology as a science. Thereafter, we consider a series of geological phenomena that led Wegener to his idea of continental drift. Next, we learn about discoveries  that contributed to the modern view of plate tectonics (paleomagnetism, seafloor spreading, etc.). Using ideas such as mantle convection, converging and diverging plate boundaries, hot spots etc. we also discover how  many of the geological riddles that characterize the earth as we know it are understood today.  We conclude this block with a consideration of glaciers and the part they played in shaping the current topography of Illinois.

Faculty:                    Michael Holdrege, High School Sciences Teacher
Class Dates:           March 24-April 17, 2014
Curriculum Area:   Morning Lesson Block


24 Mar. William Smith. Pound stones, marbles, shark's tooth.  Figured Stones:  how do they get there? Noah's flood.  Smith the surveyor visits mines, travels the country. Consistent strata sequence.  Indicator fossils. Strata not always horizontal: dip and strike.   Handouts of indicator fossils and strata in England.

25 Mar.   Principle of Original Horizontality.  Principle of Strategic Superposition. How Sedimentary Rock Forms (Stratification): Sedimentation.  Four clastic sediments and the rock types they form. Lithification. 

 26 Mar.    Stratigraphic Mystery I. (mystery drawing & drawing of solution, with explanations of the mystery and the solution).  Stratigraphic Mystery II. (mystery drawing + solution).  The Mystery of the Temple of Serapis (+ handout).

27 Mar.   Traced map of Indonesia + two handouts.  Beginning description of events near Krakatoa – May  1883.

28 Mar.    The story of Krakatoa continued.  Drawing of the Strait of Sunda.  Krakatoa explodes – descriptions from Aug 27 – 28. (Handout of Krakatoa after the blast--6 cu.miles of rock disappeared). Krakatoa heard on the Island of Rodriguez. Other debris arrives later.  Barometric Wave.                    

 31 Mar. Why would Krakatoa be located where it it? Location: Archipelago the most active volcanoes anywhere, in particular Java.  The five greatest volcanoes on record.  The hinge. No overall explanation even in 1964.  Drawing of magma chamber with short explanation.  Stratigraphic Mystery III.

1 Apr. Alfred Wallace and the Wallace Line.

2 Apr.  What have we seen so  far that makes the earth appear less stable and permanent that it appears on a day-to-day basis.  Alfred Wegener and evidence for the movement of continents (w. handouts)

3 Apr. Explanatory comments on handouts to Continental Drift.

4 Apr. Reactions to Wegener's idea of Continental Drift.  Paleomagnetism—magnetite “compasses” point to the North Pole (+ handout).  Ron Mason: “magnetic stripes” on the ocean floor off the Cape of Mendocino w. handout (to be continued).

7 Apr.  Paleomagnetism: the explanation for the apparent wandering of the magnetic north pole.
Sea floor spreading & mid-ocean ridges: their significance as support for Wegener’s ideas  (+ handouts).

8 Apr. Crust (continental and oceanic), mantle, core, lithosphere, asthenosphere.  Like hardened wax layer with cracks.  Handout of the earth’s Tectonic Plates.  Compare with handout showing earthquakes and volcanoes. 

9 Apr. PLATE TECTONICS.  Isostasy.  Ways in which plate boundaries can interact, with drawings & explanations.  Drawing of Mantle Convection, with explanation.

10 Apr. The location of Krakatoa in light of plate tectonics (+ drawing) and the geological cocktail that led to such a massive explosion….

11 Apr.  Hawaiian Islands, a 2500 mile chain in the middle of a tectonic plate.  How can this be explained.

14 Apr.  Hot spots.  Hawaii explained as the pacific plate moving to the NW over a hotspot (w. drawing).

15 Apr.  How did Illinois get so flat, and where did the Great Lakes come from? Glaciation in Illinois. (Volcano video)