DAVID LUMSDEN - The attached memo outlined my plans for my activities during my Professional Development Assignment in the spring semester of 2002.  I proposed to prepare a lab manual for the course Historical Geology (Geol 1050).  In contrast to commercially available lab books this manual would be tailored to the U of M student body by focusing on the historical geology of Tennessee and the Mid-South.  The goal is essentially achieved.  I created a totally unique laboratory manual with original text, figures, and tables for the department. A copy of the table of contents of the manual is attached.  I will send you a copy of the manual on a CD. 


I worked full time on writing the manual in the whole of January to May 2002.  I taught the course in the first summer term using the new manual.  Each exercise was critiqued by the students and by the lab instructor (Amanda Semko).  In July and August I revised the exercises with these comments in mind.  The lab manual is now ready for use in the fall term of 2002.  My chairman (then Dr. R. VanArsdale), Mrs. Semko, and I discussed the matter and decided that students taking Historical Geology in the fall 2002 term will be given the manual on a CD.  After this term I will again assess the manual and put it into its final form.  It is my intent to turn the copyright to the manual over to the University of Memphis (Department of Earth Sciences) when it is complete with the understanding that income from the sale of the manual will go into a DES account.  We are uncertain about how best to market the manual in the future, via book, CD, or Web.

 HISTORICAL GEOLOGY LAB MANUAL

THE UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS

DEPARTMENT OF EARTH SCIENCES

TABLE OF CONTENTS 

 

Preface 

Exercise 1 – Sedimentary Rock Hand Specimen Identification and Classification – Part I

The first step in understanding the geologic record is an understanding of the identification and

classification of sedimentary rocks. 

Exercise 2 - Sedimentary Rock Hand Specimen Identification and Classification Part II –

Sedimentary Rock Textural Details

A complete understanding of the nature of sedimentary rocks requires an understanding of textural details not readily visible without the aid of a microscope. 

Exercise 3 – Ancient Environments of Deposition

The composition, sedimentary structures, and fossils in sedimentary rocks provide a basis for interpretation of the environment in which the rocks were deposited.  This interpretation enables geologist to visualize the evolution of the Earth through geologic time. 

Exercise 4 – Lithostratigraphy – Rock Units and Their Correlation

The distribution of rocks over the earth’s surface can be mapped in terms of rock types (lithology) or rock age (chronology).  In this exercise we will focus on the pattern of spatial changes in the distribution of sedimentary rocks through time, specifically the geographic distribution of rocks in a narrow age range as a function of their lithology. 

Exercise 5 – Fossils, Paleontology and Evolution

The organic content of the earth has changed through its history.  The record of this change is preserved as fossils.  In this exercise we will learn the outline of the Linnaean classification of organisms and how to identify selected taxa of use in Paleontology. 

Exercise 6 – Fossil Preparation and Identification

Fossils provide the historical evidence for the concept of evolution, however the preservation of fossils varies considerably and the identification of a given fossil can be difficult.  In this exercise you will get a taste of real world difficulties in collection and identification of fossils. 

Exercise 7 – Relative Time and Biostratigraphy

Geologists divide the history of the earth into a set of hierarchical terms in which the largest intervals (Eras) are divided into Periods that are further divided into Epochs.  Here we will learn how geologists construct the Relative Geologic Time Scale.  In particular we will learn how the concepts of superposition and faunal succession are used to order geologic events. 

Exercise 8 – Absolute Time in Geology

We have looked at the information about past events preserved in the rocks, the rocks themselves, their sedimentary structures, and their contained fossils and we have examined methods for determining relative time.  It remains for us to apply an absolute chronology to the record, in other words we need to date events in years before present (years BP) in much the same way we date historical events in years BC or AD.  In this exercise we lean how to estimate the time in years before the present when a rock or mineral formed. 

Exercise 9 – Geologic Maps and Structures

Geologic maps show the distribution of rocks on the earth’s surface in terms of their age, not their lithology.  In this exercise you will learn the rudiments of reading and interpreting geologic maps on a variety of scales. 

Exercise 10 – Plate Tectonics and Sea-Floor Spreading

Geologic maps show the distribution of rocks on the earth’s surface in terms of their age, not their lithology.  No state has a more diverse geology than Tennessee, it will be the focus our attention. 

Exercise 11 – Plate Tectonics continued – Evolution of the Mississippi Embayment

Memphis sits in the middle of the Mississippi Embayment, a northward extension of the Gulf Coastal Plain.  The origin of the Mississippi Embayment can be explained using Plate Tectonic and Hot Spot concepts.  In this exercise we will investigate the Precambrian, Paleozoic and Mesozoic evolution of the Mississippi Embayment. 

Exercise 12 – Paleoclimates

Are the climatic changes that have taken place in the past half-century natural or a consequence of human activity (anthropogenic)?  If we are to answer this question we must understand the climatic changes that took place throughout earth history.  Many now believe that the span of written history (approximately the past 6,000 years) coincides with a period of unusual climatic stability (the past 8,000 to 10,000 yrs).  In fact the geologic record suggests that the climate of the earth has changed dramatically through time.

 

Exercise 13 – A Virtual Field Trip Through Geologic Time

Planned, not yet ready.

 

Appendix A – The Geologic Time Scale

Appendix B – Stratigraphic column for Tennessee

Appendix C – Web sites of interest

Appendix D – Glossary

 

As my first priority I will prepare a lab manual for the course Historical Geology (Geol 1050).  In contrast to commercially available lab books this manual will be tailored to the U of M student body by focusing on the historical geology of Tennessee and the Mississippi Embayment, aka the Mid-South.  I foresee 12 to 15 exercises each to be completed in one two-hour lab.  The book will follow conventional structure but will use examples and problems related to local geologic history and PC computers for selected problems, both to access material available on the web and to produce results involving certain exercises. 

A working outline follows: 

            Chapter 1  – Sedimentary Rock Classification.

            Chapter 2  – Textural Details of Sedimentary Rocks

            Chapter 3  – Ancient Sedimentary Environments

            Chapter 4  – Lithostratigraphy – Rock Units and Their Correlation

            Chapter 5  – Relative Time in Geology

            Chapter 6  – Absolute Time in Geology

            Chapter 7  – Fossils and Paleontology

            Chapter 8  – Biostratigraphy – Biostratigraphic Units and Their Correlation

            Chapter 9  – Geologic maps and Structures

            Chapter 10 – Sea-Floor Spreading and Plate Tectonics

            Chapter 11 – Paleozoic History of Tennessee

            Chapter 12 – Mesozoic History of Tennessee

            Chapter 13 – Cenozoic History of Tennessee

            Chapter 14 – Holocene History of the Mississippi Embayment