Grab a refreshing beverage, pull up a chair, and take a virtual geology tour
someplace in the world. Prepare a one page typed summary of your
Your travel agency:
Ideas for Projects/Projects for Geology
Select a topic which interests you.
The list below may give you ideas, but you are welcome to modify one of
these or come up with an original idea. Topics must be cleared with
me. All topics are first-come-first-served; i.e., only one person
in the class may have any topic. Prepare a 'paper' which thoroughly
investigates the topic. (I can't imagine that anyone could do this
in less than 5 typed pages.) Shorter papers will be tolerated from
those who choose a field topic. The paper will be written in normal
'English-class' style. This means that you must cite all relevant
materials and have a Literature Cited section. (Nota bene:
I am as picky of a grader on grammar and spelling as any English professor!)
This paper is worth 100 pts.
You will also present your project to the
class during the last week of the course. I strongly recommend a
PowerPoint presentation. I will teach you how to use PowerPoint if
you wish. This presentation will be judged by your classmates, and
is worth 25 points.
Ideas for papers:
- The 2005 flooding of New Orleans as a result of a direct hit by a
hurricane had been predicted decades ago. Analyze the reasons
(geological, hydrological, etc.) why this was foreseen, and what could (and
should) have been done to lessen the effects of Hurricane Katrina.
- The devastating effects of the Indonesian tsunami have forced all coastal
nations to reconsider their warning systems. One already exists in the
Pacific Ocean, but none in the Atlantic. Investigate why this is and
what (if anything) is being done to remedy the situation.
- Why are geologists interested in the surface of Saturn's moon Titan, rocks from Mars and the moon? Why
have we sent a satellite to collect dust from the tail of a comet and
another craft to collide with one?
What is to be learned from such expensive space exploration?
- Is the earth young or old? What the creationists and geologists
- What effect did glaciation have on Pennsylvania (or NJ, NY, Japan,
or wherever is your home).
- A biography of Charles Lyell, James Hutton, Stephen Jay Gould, or
another prominent geologist.
- What new things have we learned about the geology of other planets
from satellite cameras, e.g., the Magellan voyage to the inner planets.
- What causes the formation of mineral-rich magnesium nodules on some
parts of the ocean floor? Can they be profitably mined?
- Discuss the origin of black smokers. What is unique about the biological
life which lives around them?
- Discuss the historical geology of PA. If you stood on the location
of where Scranton, PA is today, what kind of ride would you have taken
over the past 3 billion years?
- Discuss the geology of the Grand Canyon.
- Caves and caving; the unique biology of caves.
- How California is coping with the threat of . . . the big one.
- Using a soil map, (which I have), discuss the types of soils in
this area. What is their origin? Are they fertile?
- How do oil companies use geologists to locate mineral deposits
(like gold, oil, etc.).
- Discuss mining techniques.
- How does remote imaging work? That is, how do satellite cameras
obtain usable information about the earth, its geology, etc.
- What kind of careers might a geologist get into? What do
these jobs pay? What education do you need for them?
- Discuss some of the oddball organisms which we know only from fossils.
- What caused the extinction of the dinosaurs? (In greater detail
than discussed in class.)
- Discuss the possibilities of the collision of a meteorite, asteroid,
or comet with the earth. What is the earth's past history of collisions?
How large must an object be to cause substantial damage? Could this have
caused the extinction of the dinosaurs? What sort of planning should we
be doing to prevent such a collision?
- Discuss the formation, classification, usefulness, etc., of gems
(like tourmaline, diamond, ruby, etc.).
- Discuss the technique and reliability of 14C dating (our book treats
it quite superficially).
- Design a creative way to teach a lab about rocks and minerals in
a captivating, interesting manner.
- Compare and evaluate several geology textbooks or lab books from
a student's point of view. What makes one good? (I can supply you with
several texts and lab books.)
- Geology determines what a stream will be like. The bottom type,
gradient, current, discharge, etc., determine the kinds of fish which will
be present. Therefore, geology determines the fish fauna of a river. Discuss
the types of fish to be expected in different geological areas. Discuss
the fish fauna of PA in terms of its geology, e.g. stream piracy.
- Discuss the role geology plays in the siting of nuclear waste dumps,
- Discuss the Archbold Pothole, the Delaware Water Gap, or some other
interesting geological phenomena in this area.
- The economic exploitation of deposits of sand, gravel, coal, bluestone
quarries, etc. in this area.
- Discuss the Reading Prong, uranium deposits, and the area's radon
- King Coal--the role of mining in the history of PA and the Lackawanna
- Set up a field trip for us: mineral collecting, fossil hunting,
- Groundwater contamination - - can it ever be cleaned up?
- Avalanches: rock, snow, mud, etc..
- The formation of coral atolls.
- Exploiting the earth's heat - - geothermal energy.
- Earthquake predicting.
- We all love to live near the shore. Why is it foolish to build
on barrier islands, to build jetties, groins, and breakwaters?
- What will be the impact of rising sea levels (due to global warming)
on coastal areas?.
- Earthquakes in N. America away from the San Andreas fault. Discuss
the New Madrid earthquake, or the threat of earthquakes in PA.
- Follow any metal from ore, through mining, processing, to production
of useful items.
- Discuss the results of recent drilling into the Greenland glaciers.
Two simultaneous studies have produced different interpretations.
- Sample the water quality of a stream. Discuss what you find out
in terms of the watershed geology. E.g., why is the water acidic,
rich in phosphates, etc.?
- What should every angler know about the geology of the lakes/steams
in which he/she fishes?
- Just how good is the fossil record? Are there significant
gaps? Will missing links be found? Does the presence of such
gaps invalidate the theory of evolution?