I. GY113 Honors Geoscience Field Course

    3 semester credits.

II. Catalogue Description

A two-week field course emphasizing the recognition and understanding of geologic processes in the field environment. The course is based in the Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico, with field trips ranging across northern New Mexico and southern Colorado in late May during the interim session. Prerequisites: GY111 and GY112, or permission of instructor.
III. Course Objectives

    The objectives of the Honors Geoscience Field Course will include:

IV. Course Topics
Listed below is a tentative schedule of topics on a day-to-day schedule:
DAY 1: Arrival and transport from Alberquerque to Taos Ski valley; assignment of rooms at Austing Haus motel; discussion of motel rules and kitchen cleanup duties; orientation to motel facilities.
DAY 2: Taos area field trip.
Exercise #1: test of student understanding of the tectonic evolution of the region based on outcrops and landforms visited during DAY 2 field trip.
DAY 3: Basic topographic map and pocket transit usage for map location lecture; GPS instrument operation; hike along the Gavilan trail adjacent to Austing Haus motel to demonstrate alpine landform features, and to practice map location skills.
Exercise #2: Test of map location skill along the Gavilan trail using traditional and GPS instruments.
DAY 4: Exposure characteristics and thickness measurements of the Quaternary basaltic lava flow units exposed in the Rio Grande Gorge.
Exercise #3: test of recognizing individual flow units by sketching a true scale cross-section of exposures in the gorge.
DAY 5: Field trip to the Copper Hill mine area near Dixon, NM, to sample and describe the 1.8 Ga age metamorphic rock units exposed along a traverse.
Exercise #4: collect representative hand samples of the Marquenas Formation metaconglomerate, Pilar Formation graphitic slate, Rinconada Formation garnet + staurolite schist, and the Ortega Formation massive quartzite. The traverse will be conducted on public land with the aid of a 1:24,000 topographic map. Answer a series of questions related to the tectonic evolution of these rocks. (see attached exercise).
DAY 6: River raft trip through the upper portion of the Rio Grande gorge near Taos, NM.
DAY 7: Field trip to the Jemez Mountains near Los Alamos, NM. The Valles Caldera, a 18-mile diameter structure, will be traversed so as to observe numerous volcanic units and structures typical of an explosive caldera eruption. Bandelier National monument will provide a unique insight into the culture of prehistoric Anastasi Native American culture. Also visited on this traverse are the Jemez hot springs, site of numerous active volcanic fumaroles, and the San Ysidro Mesozoic strata.
DAY 8: Field trip to the Questa, NM, Molybdenum mine, and through the environmentally affected areas around the Red River and Eagle Nest, NM vicinity.
Exercise #5: produce a report outlining (1) the geological factors that control the formation of calderas, (2) the relationship between the Questa caldera and the ore deposits presently mined, (3) operation of the mine and the resulting byproducts that pollute the surrounding area, and (4) the various techniques used by the mining industry to reclaim and protect mined lands from negative environmental consequences.
DAY 9: Field trip to the San Luis valley of south-central Colorado, including a tour presented by National Park Service rangers at the Great Sand Dunes National Monument near Alamosa, CO. We will camp overnight at the Great Sand dunes campground. Emphasis will be placed on the eolian processes that have produced the Great Sand Dunes, and on the dynamics of the San Luis artesian aquifer system that recharges in the Great Sand Dunes vicinity. This aquifer is one of the most prolific but environmentally sensitive systems in the western U.S.
Exercise #6: Produce and turn in a report that outlines (1) the parameters that control the Great Sand Dunes eolian system, and (2) the hydrologic cycle of the region as represented by the San Luis Valley aquifer system.
DAY 10: Continuation of the field trip to Spanish Peaks region near La Veta, CO. Exposed in this region are two eroded volcanic peaks that display spectacular radial dike swarms of lampophyric texture and composition. Hogbacks of Mesozoic strata, especially the Cretaceous Dakota Sandstone formation, are also exposed in spectacular form along the east border faults of the Sangre de Cristo range. Also visited on this day is El Capulin volcanic monument, a small cinder cone perfectly exposed near Raton, NM. Overnight camping at Eagle Nest State Park.
DAY 11: Exercise #7 - Report on the geological structure and history of the Spanish Peaks area. Afternoon will be free time.
DAY 12: Field trip to Taos and Sante Fe to experience some of the many cultural features including (1) numerous western art galleries (many paintings include geological formations), (2) the Taos Pueblo Reservation, the oldest continuously inhabited Pueblo in North America (>800 years), and (3) the Sante Fe old town square that provides unique opportunities to understand the Spanish and Native American cultural influences on New Mexico.
    DAY 13: Cleanup day and free time.

    DAY 14: Travel day to Alberquerque for return flight to Mobile.

V. Text

    None required

VI. Procedure for Assessing Student Performance

    Final grade will be based on the numerical mean of assigned exercises, and upon the ability of the student to work with his/her peers:

    Mean of exercises: 85%

    Attitude: 15%

    Final grade is determined by a standard scale, 90% and above = A, 80-89=B, etc.

    Changes in Course Requirements

Since all classes do not progress at the same rate, the instructor may wish to modify the above requirements or their timing as circumstances dictate. For example, the instructor may wish to change the number and frequency of exams, or the number and sequence of assignments. Students will be given adequate notification of such changes. Although course  requirements may be  modified,  they will still  preserve the original course objectives and spirit.
    Missed exams\ lateness penalty\attendance:
The reason for producing a syllabus is to give students advanced notice of exams and assignment due dates. Translation: there is no excuse for turning lab assignments in late. As such you will receive an "0" if you do not turn in your lab assignment by the due date. If you have a legitimate excuse for missing an exam (i.e. medical problem), you will be permitted to complete a make-up during the last week of classes provided that you show me a signed certificate from a physician stating that it was impossible for you to make the exam. The make up exam will consist of  essay questions.
Because of the nature of this accelerated course attendance to all meetings will be mandatory. Persons not able to attend the daily exercises will receive a grade of "0" for that day.
    Honor Policy
Plagiarism and cheating are not permitted in this class. In fact, either of them will result in severe embarrassment to you and quite possibly an "0" for the assignment or exam in question if you are caught in the act. If you are unsure of what constitutes plagiarism or cheating, speak to me about it. This policy is the same as in the USA student handbook and bulletin, consult them for more information regarding the honor policy at USA.
    Disabilty Policy:
The University of South Alabama provides reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities.  In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, students with bona fide disabilities will be afforded reasonable accommodation. The Office of Special Student Services will certify a disability and advise faculty members of reasonable accommodations. If you have a specific disability that qualifies you for academic accommodations, please notify me and provide certification from Disability Services (Office of Special Student Services). The Office of Special Student Services is directed by Ms. Andrea Agnew and is located in the Student Center, room 270. The phone number is (251) 460-7212.

VII. Instructor for the Course

    Instructor: TBA

    Logistics coordinator: David Allison

VIII. Bibliography

Press, Frank, and Siever, Raymond, 1994, Understanding Earth. W.H. Freeman & Company, New York, New York, 2nd edition, ISBN 0-7167-2836-2,682p.
Tarbuck, Edward J., and Lutgens, Frederick K., 1990, The Earth: An Introduction to Physical Geology. 3rd edition, Merrill Publishing Company: Columbus, Ohio 43216, ISBN 0-675-21205-7, 651p.
David Allison Home Page
USA Undergraduate Bulletin
University of South Alabama