Conceptual teaching of metamorphic petrology at undergraduate level

Huizenga, Jan, and Van Reenen, Dirk (2016) Conceptual teaching of metamorphic petrology at undergraduate level. In: 5th AUGEN Conference. From: 5th Australasian Universities Geoscience Educators Network Meeting (AUGEN), 28-29 January 2016, Canberra, ACT, Australia.

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Abstract

Traditionally, undergraduate metamorphic petrology focuses on topics including classification of metamorphic rocks, texture and fabric of metamorphic rocks, and the variation of mineral assemblages as a function of temperature, pressure and rock composition (see, for example, the table of contents in the 2001 textbook by John Winter). Consequently, metamorphic geology can easily become a relatively boring fact-memorising subject. Obviously, factual knowledge is important but, as we will show in this presentation, putting them in context related to concepts/themes (Figure 1) will make the learning experience more efficient and in particular more fun for both the student and the lecturer. Metamorphic geology at James Cook University is taught in two undergraduate subjects of six weeks each. Both subjects have “Understanding crustal evolution using pressure-temperature paths” as the main theme (e.g., Spear, 1995). Each subject includes two 50-minute lecture periods and one three-hour practical session per week. The introductory metamorphic geology subject introduces the basic concepts: controlling factors (pressure, temperature, fluid), geotherms and pressure-temperature paths, mineral assemblages and metamorphic reactions (Figure 1). The concepts are explained in lectures and during the practicals using examples and exercises. Specific teaching material was written for both subjects, which is updated every year using feedback from the students. The advanced metamorphic geology subject is entirely structured around a practical case study in which the students have the task to reconstruct the uplift history of a granulite-facies metamorphic terrain. The methods used in this practical are largely based on the concepts already introduced in the introductory metamorphic geology subject. The practical includes petrography (identification of mineral reactions), construction of Thompson AFM diagrams and Fe-Mg KD diagrams, calculation of pressure and temperature conditions and retrograde pressure-temperature paths. The results are presented in an article-format report. The feedback from students to this approach has generally been positive. In particular the complete integration of lectures and the case study has been well received by the students.

Item ID: 43679
Item Type: Conference Item (Abstract / Summary)
ISSN: 0729-011X
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Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2017 04:57
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040304 Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9302 Teaching and Instruction > 930202 Teacher and Instructor Development @ 100%
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