Archive for August 15th, 2010

Sacagawea Peak in the Bridger Range

August 15th, 2010

The entire group at the On the Cutting Edge Workshop (Teaching Geoscience in the Field) spent a few hours in the field talking about various teaching strategies. Our field site for this exercise was the Bridger Range, and we climbed to Sacagawea Saddle. Fortunately, on the climb up, Terry Pavlis (structural geologist at UTEP) gave me a Trimble Juno with ArcPad to use so that I could try this digital mapping technology out in the field once again.

The view from Sacagawea Saddle was gorgeous, and we had a great conversation about teaching pedagogy at the top.

View of the Paleozoic carbonates that are wonderfully exposed along the climb toward Sacagawea Saddle.  This area is in the Gallatin National Forest.  Notice the huge talus pile and the remnant snow in the photo.

View of the Paleozoic carbonates that are wonderfully exposed along the climb toward Sacagawea Saddle. This area is in the Gallatin National Forest. Notice the huge talus pile and the remnant snow in the photo.

The photo above illustrates the magnificent view that you have from the Saddle. (View to the west)

The photo above illustrates the magnificent view that you have from the Saddle. (View to the west)

View of Sacagawea Peak from the Saddle.  All of the rocks in the photo are the Paleozoic carbonates, which straddle the entire spectrum from lime mudstones to wackestones to packstones, grainstones, and boundstones.  It was fantastic for me to walk through this thick Paleozoic sequence that had been caught up in thrusting and was now exposed in the Bridger Range.  (By the way, Dr. Wilson, there sure are some great fossils here!!...Tabulate corals, rugose corals, brachiopods, crinoids, stromatoporoids, and yes -- even some bryozoans.)

View of Sacagawea Peak from the Saddle. All of the rocks in the photo are the Paleozoic carbonates, which straddle the entire spectrum from lime mudstones to wackestones to packstones, grainstones, and boundstones. It was fantastic for me to walk through this thick Paleozoic sequence that had been caught up in thrusting and was now exposed in the Bridger Range. (By the way, Dr. Wilson, there sure are some great fossils here!!...Tabulate corals, rugose corals, brachiopods, crinoids, stromatoporoids, and yes -- even some bryozoans.)

Another Wooster Geologist in Montana

August 15th, 2010

In an earlier blog, Jesse Davenport (2011) described some of this experiences this summer while working on his Keck project in Montana. Jesse is still in SW Montana, although his official last day in the field is August 16. He should have plenty of great geology stories to tell from his time out here in Big Sky Country.

Speaking of Big Sky Country…
Earlier this month (August 8), I also came out to Montana State University to attend two On the Cutting Edge Workshops. The first workshop (August 8-11) was called “Using GIS and Remote Sensing to Teach Geoscience in the 21st Century”. This workshop has revolutionized the way that I will teach GIS in spring 2011, and it also has contributed to significant changes to other courses that I teach in the curriculum. I am so glad that I was able to participate with other faculty from all over the country who teach GIS and Remote Sensing courses.

The second workshop, which I am still participating in this week, is called “Teaching Geoscience in the Field in the 21st Century”. I love teaching in the field, so this workshop will help my activities each year with our I.S. program and with field camp. In fact, I gave a presentation on Wooster’s I.S. program twice to the audience of geologists, and it seemed to be well-received. There is definitely some commonality between capstone courses at various institutions, but there are some distinct differences, too. For example, no other school boasts of an I.S. Monday in which the Registrar dresses as a Tootsie Roll and the Dean dresses in the MacLeod tartan!!

In between each workshop, we spent a day in the field in which we were shown several different uses of technology in the field. I was able to play with (1) a tablet PC that ran GeoMapper software, (2) a toughbook that ran ArcMap, (3) a Trimble Juno that ran ArcPad, and (4) a GeoClino that allows simultaneous measurements of strike and dip (of bedding) and trend and plunge (of a lineation) within seconds!! The day was fantastic, because you typically do not get to try so many different digitial mapping technologies in one setting.

The military advantage of holding the Upper Cretaceous chalk highlands

August 15th, 2010

Upper Cretaceous chalk exposure in the gloomy Argonne Forest.

VIENNE LE CHATEAU, FRANCE–There is one strong geological control of warfare in northern France: the high areas are often thick, resistant Upper Cretaceous chalk while the valleys and plains below are usually poorly-consolidated greensands and clays. We’ve already seen these remarkable chalks this summer in Mississippi, Israel, and Germany. Cretaceous Chalk is nearly global in its extent (The White Cliffs of Dover in England and the Chalk Buttes of Kansas are made of it) and it tells us that there was something very different in oceanic chemistry and biology compared to today.

The Argonne Massif is a range of chalk hills running roughly north-south with the Aisne and Aire Rivers cutting through it, along with many smaller streams. The Champagne-Ardenne/Lorraine regional boundary runs through the long axis of the massif. In World War I the Germans occupied most of the highlands in the north since capturing them in 1914. They built relatively spacious and dry bunkers and trenches in the chalk, whereas the French and then later the Americans were mostly confined to the unstable clay-rich lowlands. The most bitter battles here were over the possession of key high points, and the geology of the rocks and soils was a critical factor in success or failure.

The Argonne Massif covered mostly by forest. North is at the top of the image.