Geology 100 Extra Credit Research Paper  (maximum 25 points)





The purpose of this extra credit project is to investigate how geologists answer questions. You should choose such a question and then research it. Many examples are given below of questions you can use for your specific paper topic. You can come up with your own, but you must OK it with me first to make sure it is workable or I will not accept it!   Below are just a few topic ideas:


Given an unknown deposited layer of sand sediment, how can you tell if it has been transported by wind, water or ice?


How might you measure long-term erosion rates of a mountainous area?

How would you figure out how much material a river moves?

How do you figure out how sea level has changed for a portion of coast line?

How can you decipher how closely one fossil organism is related to another by an evolutionary linkage?


How do you decipher movement patterns within glaciers?

How do you determine if a slope is unstable or stable?

How do you link a volcanic ash deposit to its volcanic source?

How can you estimate mineral and chemical make-up of Earth's surface material from a satellite platform (remote sensing)?


How can you estimate past atmospheric temperatures from ice cores and obtain a climatic record?


How can you estimate sedimentation rates (how fast different types of sediments pile up in different areas)?


How do you estimate the volume of ash and gases an eruption gives off?

How do you estimate the pressures and temperatures a metamorphic mineral grows at in the earth's crust?


For hydrothermal precipitates (minerals that grew from hot waters) how do you what temperature (and sometimes pressure) the waters were at when the minerals grew?


How do you measure how much heat is conducting through the crust in a given area, i.e. determine the heat flow?


How do we know what the earth's core is made of?

How would figure out how fast a fault has moved?

How do you work out rates of plate motion, e.g. how fast Africa and South America have been moving apart?


How do you work out the configuration of past supercontinents?

How do you figure out if a fault is geologically active, i.e. if it has moved in the past 20,000 years?


How do you find and map salt domes, petroleum, and mineral ore bodies that are below the surface?


How do you find gold?

How do you compute the size, and worth of an ore body?

How do you determine the magnetic history of a rock?


How do you figure out how fast in what direction water flows through the ground?


How do you determine the causes and rates of shoreline erosion?


How can you determine when an active or temporarily dormant volcano might erupt again?


How can you determine when an active fault might rupture again?


How can you tell the relative age of portions of a planetary surface?


Content of Research Proposal:   For full credit, your paper must include:


 1) Purpose and introduction: e.g. a statement of the geologic question, and some general

         background information on the topic, including why you chose this particular topic.


2) Discuss the established means (field/lab techniques) of answering the question.


 3) Concepts and theories concerning the phenomena in question.


 4) Some examples of where this has been done before and what the results were. 


 5) A personal analytical synthesis (some of your very own scientific thought) about the

       information you collected on your chosen geologic topic.  Include yours and others

      ideas, hypotheses, answers, and/or solutions to the proposed geologic (topic) question.


  6) Conclusion


  7) A format-correct bibliography


Paper must be a minimum of 5 pages ; typed and double spaced . Your audience for the paper is the educated layperson and the paper should be informational.  This extra credit paper is worth a maximum of 25 points.


Information sources:  Minimum of 4 scientific research articles. 


Grading:   Your effort will be graded on content, spelling and grammar. . Good luck.


Due Date    - Last class meeting  - Papers must be handed to me in person

                            or E-mailed to me at this time. No late papers will be accepted.