Virtual mapping and analytical data integration: A teaching module using Precambrian crystalline basement in Colorado's Front Range (USA) Journal Article uri icon



  • Abstract. The COVID-19 pandemic hindered the ability to conduct field geology courses in a hands-on and boots-on traditional manner. In response, we designed a multi-part virtual field module that encompasses many of the basic requirements of an advanced field exercise, including designing a mapping strategy, collecting and processing field observations, synthesizing data from field-based and laboratory analyses, and communicating the results to a broad audience. For the mapping exercise, which is set in deformed Proterozoic crystalline basement exposed in the Front Range of Colorado (USA), student groups make daily navigational decisions and choose stations based on topographic maps, Google Earth satellite imagery, and iterative geological reasoning. For each station, students receive outcrop descriptions, measurements, and photographs from which they input field data and create geologic maps using StraboSpot. Building on the mapping exercise, student groups then choose from six supplements, including advanced field structure, microstructure, metamorphic petrology, and several geochronological datasets. Because scientific projects rarely end when the mapping is complete, the students are challenged to see how samples and analytical data may commonly be collected and integrated with field observations to produce a more holistic understanding of the geological history of the field area. While a virtual course cannot replace the actual field experience, modules like the one shared here can successfully address, or even improve on, some of the key learning objectives that are common to field-based capstone experiences, while also fostering a more accessible and inclusive learning environment for all students.;

publication date

  • May 5, 2021

has restriction

  • green

Date in CU Experts

  • May 7, 2021 1:37 AM

Full Author List

  • Mahan KH; Frothingham MG; Alexander E

author count

  • 3

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