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Analytical Historical Geology
In this course you will learn to collect, interpret, and analyze deep time paleontological, stratigraphic, and sedimentological records through readings, labs, and projects all coordinated around a week long spring break trip to explore the House Range of Utah. The Cambrian and Ordovician successions of Utah’s West Desert offers an outstanding record of one of the most important periods in Earth history, tracking the rise of animal ecosystems and major increases in diversity. The first 6 weeks of class will be spent learning the fundamentals of quantitative methods in paleontology and stratigraphy. Labs will focus on skill building including learning basic coding in R, and learning how to interpret paleontological, sedimentological, and stratigraphic data. We will also read widely on the field locality and on the Cambrian and Ordovician Periods. During the field trip, we will explore the House Range. Students will learn skills including geological mapping, measuring stratigraphic section, finding and identifying fossils, and correlating rock units across basins. We will collect samples and data on the field trip and bring them back to Williams. The second 6 weeks of the course will be spent processing and analyzing the samples and data collected during the field trip, culminating in final projects to be done in small groups. Students will determine what data we will collect in the field. Examples might be trilobite taxonomy and phylogenetic analyses, quantitative biostratigraphic correlation using conodont fossils, reconstructing paleoenvironment based on sedimentological analyses of thin sections, or building a sequence stratigraphic framework for a subset of the field locality.
Format: seminar/laboratory; weekly lectures, paper discussions, and hands-on labs
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
short papers and lab assignments, spring break field course participation (REQUIRED), and a final group project
GEOS majors who have taken at least one of the following courses: GEOS 212, GEOS 203, GEOS 324, GEOS 401, GEOS 302, or permission of instructor
junior and senior Geosciences majors
This course will rely on the programming language R. Students will learn how to code in R, and will use R to analyze large data sets of geological data. The majority of labs, as well as the final project, will rely on R, statistical analyses, and wrangling data.
GEOS Group B Electives - Sediments + Life