Beyond IQ

Historical Geology

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Instructor: Taormina (Tara) Lepore, M.S.
5-10 students
Suggested Age Ranges: 11+
Meets: Sundays at 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm Pacific Time

 

Course Description:

Historical Geology is a course that will change the way you look at the world around you. The course is for anyone who is interested in learning about how the surface and structures of the Earth formed, how life evolved on this dynamic planet, and what the continuing geologic and evolutionary changes mean for life on Earth today. In this course we will become active geologists, using digital versions of the same tools field geologists utilize to study layers of sedimentary rock, and we’ll explore the evidence that supports major geological theories. Students will learn how to read Earth’s geology like pages of a book, and develop their own inquiry-based questions around geologic and evolutionary themes. We will accomplish this by studying real-life examples of rock strata via video, exploring examples of students’ local strata, and investigating iconic rock strata, like that of the Grand Canyon and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in the United States. Then we'll “time travel” through the eons and eras of geologic history, examining how stratigraphic layers formed throughout geologic time, and how these changes relate to the evolution of life on Earth. A majority of the course will cover the connection between Earth’s evolutionary history and the geological formations that capture the evidence for evolution.

Class time will consist of discussion with the visual aid of photographs and diagrams, and students will have the opportunity to actively try to decipher the meaning of rock layers and the evolution of groups of vertebrates and invertebrates. Outside of class, assignments will focus on your own local geology, eventually leading to your ability to describe how the land you live on got to be the way it is – and what, if any, fossils are around where you live.

Prerequisites: None

Outline:

Week 1: Introduction to class, students, and instructor. What is historical geology? Why take historical geology? What is the human connection to geologic events?

Week 2: Basic principles of geology: Steno’s Principles, the history of geology, important human beings in geology. Evidence for plate tectonics, sea floor spreading, and orogenesis.

Week 3: Geology and stratigraphy: What are the major rock types? How do sediments accumulate (Walther’s Law). How do we read layers of sedimentary rocks?

Week 4: Reading the layers of rocks (continued). The oldest rocks on Earth, reconnect to metamorphic rock and subduction vs. cratonic rock, importance of granite and isotopic readings.

Week 5: Precambrian (Cryptozoic) Eon: Hadean and Archean Eras – Molten Earth, formation of the moon, beginnings of the oceans and atmosphere. Earliest cyanobacteria and stromatolites in Archean.

Week 6: Precambrian (Cryptozoic) Eon continued: Proterozoic Era – Stromatolites, oxygenation events, oldest eukaryotes

Week 7: Early Paleozoic Era – Cambrian, Ordovician

Week 8: Middle Paleozoic Era – Silurian, Devonian

Week 9: Late Paleozoic Era – Carboniferous, Permian

Week 10: Spring Break

Week 11: Mesozoic Era: Triassic Period

Week 12: Mesozoic Era: Jurassic Period

Week 13: Mesozoic Era: Cretaceous Period

Week 14: Cenozoic Era: Tertiary Period  – Paleocene, Eocene, Oligocene, Miocene, Pliocene Epochs

Week 15: Cenozoic Era: Quaternary Period – Pleistocene, Holocene Epochs

Week 16: End of Class Business – Final Presentations

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