[MSA-talk] Plate tectonic Ig/Met Pet syllabus

Michael Garcia mogarcia at hawaii.edu
Thu Dec 28 17:52:57 EST 2017

Greetings to all from sunny Honolulu,

I teach a junior level class in Ign/meta petrology (3 units). It follows a
rigorous mineralogy course (4 units) and is taken with a sed/strat course
(4 units).

As noted by Liz (her email is attached for your reference), most of my
students struggle with remembering their basic chemistry as well as
mineralogy over the winter break. Thus, I stress learning
basics/fundamentals in the first part of my course starting with origin of
the Earth, its basic composition and the plate tectonic framework where
most igneous and metamorphic processes occur. The Winter textbook is used.
I have tried several others but have come back to this book as the best
compromise for my students.

I have taught this class for 25 years (this will probably be my last time).
One thing I have learned is to keep improving it to meet student needs and
interests.  Mostly I have removed things that are tangential to their
future as geologists. New topic are added discoveries/trendy ideas are
developed. For example, what killed the dinosaurs and other mass
extinctions? This was added to the flood basalt section of my course.

I agree with Liz that jumping into details of processes at places where
ign/meta process occur would be counterproductive.
A two part process is also used in my course stressing building skills in
the first part and then applying them in the second part as noted by Liz.

*The second part* is started with Hawaiian basalt (simple rocks with
olivine +/- cpx and plag).  Andrew Greene and I (with help with USGS and
former HVO colleague Tim Orr) developed a module using the current eruption
at Kilauea to get students excited about looking at boring basalt. We have
many helpful products on the SERC website (maps, videos, thin sections
scanned, real data for basalt, questions for students and help for
teachers). Go to
https://serc.carleton.edu/dev/hawaiian_volcanoes/35081.html if you are
interested. I can also ship to you a suite of 6 rocks to use for teaching
(shipping paid by you).
We have developed several other teaching modules at that site and we now
have a devoted SERC web site for our 4 Hawaii focused modules:
The Hawaiian Hotspot and Growth and Degradation of Hawaiian Volcanoes
<https://serc.carleton.edu/dev/hawaiian_volcanoes/145781.html>  *A Jigsaw
Activity on the Hawaiian Ridge*
Discovering Explosive Eruptions,Lava Flows, Earthquakes and Tsunami on the
Island of Hawai'i
<https://serc.carleton.edu/dev/hawaiian_volcanoes/74390.html> *A Jigsaw
Activity on Hazards on the Island of Hawai'i*
Learning about Volcanic Eruptions and Hazards on the Island of Hawai'i *A
Learning Game on Volcanoes and Hazards on the* *Island of Hawai'i (in
Petrology and Geochemistry of the Ongoing Pu'u O'o Eruption of Kilauea
Volcano (1983-2010)
<https://serc.carleton.edu/dev/hawaiian_volcanoes/35081.html> *A Lab
Activity using Lava Samples, Video Footage, Maps and Geochemical Data on
the Current Eruption of Kilauea*

Afterwards, we examine classic suites of rocks from Lassen Volcano
(wonderful textural features of magma mixing in basalt to dacite), Yosemite
(granite to visit the magma mixing vs. crystal fractionation controversy of
Bateman and Chappel), and Stillwater intrusion (origin of anorthosites). I
have them *read papers on each complex and they are asked to work in teams
to present their results to the cla*ss.

*Field trips* are one thing that is critical and much appreciated by
students. I use 3 lab periods to visit classic localities near the
university.  Clearly, this is impossible for many instructors because of
field conditions, costs or other issues but we need to stress the
connection between those samples we show them in class and outcrops.

*Writing* is another feature of my petrology class. It is both a better way
for them to learn that just reading the book and listening to me in class,
and is an essential skill for their professional career (according to
employers of our graduates). To re-enforce each lecture, students are given
short stories (origin of tholeiitic magmas from the McBirney 1993 book) and
papers to read (Pearce, 1984 on zoning in olivine and origin of granites
from a granitizer perspective). Student must write a one page summary that
addresses the central part of the paper and report on whether they agree
with the findings. Throughout the class I emphasize building skills that
allow them to think independently.

*Rock identification*. A suite of rocks (mixed sed/ign/meta) are brought
into each lecture for the students to examine as a class activity. In
groups (less stress and more helpful to them to work together), they
examine 1 or 2 rocks and then report to the class what texture and minerals
they observe, and give each rock a name. Most of our students never look
down a microscope after this class, so having basic rock identification
skills is the most useful thing they learn beyond my stressing the
scientific method in solving problems. This takes 10-15 minutes, which is a
lot of class time but it seems to help them gain confidence and they like
doing it.

Good luck with your winter/spring term classes.

Mike Garcia
University of Hawaii

On Thu, Dec 28, 2017 at 7:36 AM, Johnson, Elizabeth Baedke - johns2ea <
johns2ea at jmu.edu> wrote:

> Hi,
> I teach Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology to sophomores and juniors.  The
> course is organized in a spiral learning format.  This means that we
> revisit concepts learned in the first part of the course during the second
> part of the course in the context of tectonic case studies.
> In the first half of the semester, we work on identification of igneous
> and metamorphic minerals, rocks, and textures, and some whole-rock major
> element geochemistry.  We use some smaller case studies in the first half
> of the semester to apply knowledge (Peninsular Ranges Batholith, Cascades),
> but the main focus in the first part of the semester is skill-building.
> During the second half of the semester, students must recall textural
> terms, identification methods, geochemical concepts, plus they must add to
> these skills with field observations, additional thermodynamic/geochemical
> techniques, and must interpret the data within plate tectonic and/or
> mineral resource contexts.  I use three case studies: the Bushveld LMI, our
> local western VA Eocene/Jurassic volcanic rocks, and the metamorphic and
> igneous history of southwestern VA.  The last two involve magmatic
> processes and tectonics, and are also local/regional so the students can
> see the rocks, or similar rocks, in the field.
> I do not hide the pedagogy from the students - I explain at every step why
> we are "doing" the different types of rocks twice in the same semester.  I
> think the format has two distinct advantages: 1. introducing material and
> then re-using it a month or two later gives some time for students to
> process the knowledge and then apply it, hopefully for greater retention;
> and 2. it is a method that allows at least the last half of the course to
> be formatted in a case-study/tectonics format.  Most of our students would
> be overwhelmed if I immediately jumped into the higher-order conceptual
> skills for detailed tectonic case studies at the beginning of the
> semester.  This, of course, may be very different for other curricula or
> graduate-level courses.
> The biggest disadvantage I have encountered in this course format is for
> the few students (perhaps 1 out of every 40-50 students) who struggle to
> keep up with vocabulary and chemistry skills in the first half of the
> semester.  If they cannot master the first part with a grade of C or
> better, then they have even more difficulty applying these skills to the
> case studies.
> Hope that helps!  I am happy to share learning objectives / exercises with
> anyone who is interested.
> Liz Johnson
> Associate Professor
> Department of Geology and Environmental Science
> James Madison University
> ________________________________________
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