Approved by University Studies Sub-Committee. A2C2 action pending.
WINONA STATE UNIVERSITY
PROPOSAL FOR UNIVERSITY STUDIES COURSES
Department GEOSCIENCE____________________________ Date ____2 April, 2003__________
___340_______________ ___Sedimentology & Stratigraphy_________________ _________4___
Course No. Course Name Credits
This proposal is for a(n) __XX___ Undergraduate Course
Applies to: __XX__ Major __XX___ Minor
__XX_ Required __XX_ Required
_____ Elective _____ Elective
University Studies (A course may be approved to satisfy only one set of outcomes.):
Basic Skills: Arts & Science Core: Unity and Diversity:
_____ 1. College Reading and Writing _____ 1. Humanities _____ 1. Critical Analysis
_____ 2. Oral Communication _____ 2. Natural Science _____ 2. Science and Social Policy
_____ 3. Mathematics _____ 3. Social Science _____ 3. a. Global Perspectives
_____ 4. Physical Development & Wellness _____ 4. Fine & Performing Arts _____ b. Multicultural Perspectives
_____ 4. a. Contemporary Citizenship
_____ b. Democratic Institutions
Flagged Courses: __XX_ 1. Writing
_____ 2. Oral Communication
_____ 3. a. Mathematics/Statistics
_____ b. Critical Analysis
Prerequisites ____GEOS 220 and ENG 111_________________________________________________________
Provide the following information (attach materials to this proposal):
Please see "Directions for the Department" on previous page for material to be submitted.
Attach a University Studies Approval Form.
Department Contact Person for this Proposal:
___Dr. Jim Meyers________________________X5266 email@example.com__________
Name (please print) Phone e-mail address
WINONA STATE UNIVERSITY
UNIVERSITY STUDIES APPROVAL FORM
Routing form for University Studies Course approval. Course__GEOS 340________
Department Recommendation _XX__ Approved _____ Disapproved
_________________________________ __2 April, 2003_____ firstname.lastname@example.org____________________
Department Chair Date e-mail address
Deans Recommendation _____ Approved _____ Disapproved*
Dean of College Date
*In the case of a deans recommendation to disapprove a proposal, a written rationale for the recommendation to disapprove shall
be provided to the University Studies Subcommittee.
USS Recommendation _____ Approved _____ Disapproved _____ No recommendation
University Studies Director Date
A2C2 Recommendation _____ Approved _____ Disapproved
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Decision of President _____ Approved _____ Disapproved
Please forward to Registrar.
Registrar _________________ Please notify department chair via e-mail that curricular change has been recorded.
GEOS 340 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy
University Studies Writing Flag
Winona State University
The purpose of the Writing Flag requirement is to reinforce the outcomes specified
for the basic skills area of writing. These courses are intended to provide contexts,
opportunities, and feedback for students writing with discipline-specific texts, tools,
and strategies. These courses should emphasize writing as essential to academic
learning and intellectual development.
Courses can merit the Writing Flag by demonstrating that section enrollment will allow
for clear guidance, criteria, and feedback for the writing assignments; that the
course will require a significant amount of writing to be distributed throughout the
semester; that writing will comprise a significant portion of the students final course
grade; and that students will have opportunities to incorporate readers critiques of
Geoscience 340 is a required core course for all geoscience major options and for Earth Science Teaching
majors. This course is designed as a lecture and field oriented laboratory course. Students are engaged in
three lecture/discussion sessions each week, and also work outdoors during each week's laboratory session
to solve a semester-long class research problem in the sedimentology and stratigraphy of a local rock unit.
The course is usually taken at the junior or senior level and is considered one of the main geoscience courses
in which our students conduct and present their research in a formal written report. To that end, writing
assignments are given on a weekly basis, beginning early in the semester, in order to prepare the students
for their final opus. Bi-weekly summary papers are prepared, based on reading of journal articles; twice
weekly essays are written based on "warm-up" questions posted on the web; laboratory reports include
written components on methods, data, and interpretations; exams are primarily essay-based and require
students to employ critical thinking to explain phenomena in the field of sedimentology and stratigraphy. In
addition to the more traditional writing assignments, it is critically important that students become familiar
with writing in the field. All students in this course are required to keep a detailed field notebook
documenting the results of their weekly field observations, and to periodically complete field reports
summarizing their work on different phases of the field project throughout the semester. The field notes
must follow a standard format, which is attached to this syllabus. The final writing assignment is a twenty
to thirty page research paper based on students field, laboratory, and library research conducted
throughout the semester. For all writing assignments, instructor feedback is provided. For some writing
assignments, peer feedback is given. And for some writing assignments, including the final research paper,
students are required to revise their work, based on instructors editorial comments.
Writing flag courses must include requirements and learning activities that promote
students' abilities to...
a. practice the processes and procedures for creating and completing successful
writing in their fields;
A basic form of writing in the geological sciences is the completion of the field notebook. Students must
learn how to detail their observations in the field. This is as much an exercise in writing as it is an exercise
in learning to observe carefully and completely, because one cannot write of description of something one has
not observed. Students take field notes each week, which are collected and reviewed regularly by the course
instructor (as often as weekly by some instructors and with each project by other instructors in the
department). Data collection in the field takes place most weeks during the semester (weather permitting).
When notebooks are collected, they are checked for completeness of recorded observations and
organization, following a prescribed format (see appendix of syllabus); if incomplete and/or poorly organized,
students are required to return to the field to complete the assignment. In this manner, students are
effectively given the opportunity to create multiple edited drafts of their work. From these field notes,
students are asked to write summary field reports that synthesize their findings. Reports follow a standard
geologic format, requiring students to become familiar with the style of writing common to one part of the
A second writing skill that geoscience students are required to develop is preparing well written, concise
summaries of articles from the scientific literature. Preparation of these summaries not only develops a
concise, well-organized approach to scientific writing, but also requires students to learn to use geoscience
literature databases, read journal articles and learn to extract the most important points from scientific
papers. These assignments are given on an every-other-week basis, and the instructor edits each paper
carefully, so that substantial feedback is provided for the student to continue to improve this skill.
A third writing skill that this course emphasizes is the preparation of short essays based upon daily
questions posed by the instructor. These exercises are referred to as "warm-ups" and are administered via
the course web page (see web reference http://www.winona.edu/geology/sedstrat/warmup/index02.html).
Students prepare these essays in advance of discussion of the topic in class, thereby providing them the
opportunity to think through the problem independently. Their essays also reveal misconceptions, and areas
of misunderstanding in their developing knowledge base, enabling the instructor to focus on those problems
during the subsequent lecture and discussion session. Following the completion of each warm-up, the
instructor provides each student with an example essay, showing how the thought process can be best
organized to convey understanding in a written form.
Students in sedimentology and stratigraphy also use a fourth technique that further develops their writing
skills. A significant portion of each exam requires students to write extended essays using critical thinking
to solve geologic problems (see appendix of syllabus). These exams are given in a three-hour period, and
allow the students sufficient time to write and rewrite their answers before final submission. Sometimes
these exams permit the students to use reference material, and sometimes they do not. The instructor
provides each student with substantial written feedback on each of their essays, and discusses shortcomings
and ways to correct them.
Finally, students in this course prepare a research paper based upon their semester-long field, laboratory,
and library research. The format of the paper follows a prescribed style manual (see appendix of syllabus),
and is evaluated according to a standardized set of criteria, given to the students in advance of their
writing. The completion of the paper follows a schedule that keeps students on task, and the instructor
evaluates each students work during each phase of the completion schedule (see appendix of syllabus).
b. understand the main features and uses of writing in their fields;
Writing in the geological sciences takes on many forms dependent upon the purpose of the communication. In
this course, we focus on:
1. field reporting
2. paraphrasing papers from the geological literature
3. preparing essays in "warm-ups" and on exams to convey knowledge of content and the use of critical
thinking to solve problems based on scientific reasoning
4. completion of a research paper summarizing the results of a scientific study involving field, laboratory,
and library research
c. adapt their writing to the general expectations of readers in their fields;
Scientific writing (and writing in the geosciences) is very different from writing in other disciplines. It is
seldom in the first person, it focuses on the active voice, it requires the use of complex terminology, and it
makes extensive use of maps, cross sections, diagrams, photographs, graphs, charts, and tables. And there
are the all important field notes that begin the process.
By requiring a specific and common format for field notes and scientific reports and teaching students the
boundaries of flexibility in taking field notes, students learn the expectations of field data collection and
research reporting in the discipline. They also learn that the formats they are required to follow are the
norm in the discipline when they see them in print as they read the geologic literature.
In the sedimentology and stratigraphy course, students begin to learn these expectations not only in the
field, but also by doing extensive reading in the geologic literature. They use computer databases to search
the literature, they choose and read journal articles, and prepare summary papers of the works they read.
This process familiarizes them with the style of writing and presentation of data required in the
geosciences. Students then put these skills to use in writing a research paper based upon their original field,
laboratory and library research.
d. make use of the technologies commonly used for research and writing in their
Field reports and data analysis are done using computers; students work primarily with MS Word and Excel in
this course, but also make use of specific geologic software that allows for the presentation of rose
diagrams and stereonets (graphic representation of field measurements). Students also use drawing
programs to prepare their illustrations, and also make use of digital photography to insert pictures into the
text of their research papers. There is a strong component of library work required in this course.
Students use the geologic literature database GEOREF, available through the library, to choose papers to
read for their literature summaries. They also use this database to research the literature dealing with the
project they are working on in the field and laboratory. For this work, students prepare annotated
bibliographies that are critiqued by the instructor.
e. learn the conventions of evidence, format, usage, and documentation in their
The requirement that students turn in their field notebooks multiple times during the semester helps ensure
that they learn to adopt the format, usage, and styles of evidence presentation and documentation required
in the discipline.
Extensive reading in the geologic literature, writing summary papers of these articles, and reviewing peer
and instructors critique of summary papers also teaches students how professionals gather and use evidence
to reach their conclusions. These reading exercises also teach students how professionals document their
interpretations by presenting a complete and accurate database, and by using formal documentation of
related papers in the geologic literature, following a style that is standard for the field of sedimentology and
Students begin to practice these skills in more formal writing by completion of the field reports, which
require clear presentation of field evidence to support conclusions. Each report follows a standard format,
usage, and documentation procedure, which mimics that found in the geologic literature. Paraphrasing of
papers from the literature also helps students learn how data is used and cited to make interpretations.
Finally, preparation of the final research report gives students the opportunity to use all their skills in
writing what is probably their first full-blown scientific paper.
DR. JAMES H. MEYERS
PA 114-H 457-5266
The fundamental purpose of the course is understanding and application of principles by which we:
(1) interpret source, depositional processes, environment of deposition and diagenesis of sediment and
(2) interpret the stratigraphic record in terms of the tectonic, climatic and depositional history of
(3) to fulfill a writing flag requirement in the University Studies Program, by reinforcing outcomes specified
for the basic skills area of writing. This course will provide contexts, opportunities, and feedback for
students writing with discipline-specific texts, tools, and strategies. The course will emphasize writing as
essential to academic learning and intellectual development.
Courses can merit the Writing Flag by demonstrating that section enrollment will allow for clear guidance,
criteria, and feedback for the writing assignments; that the course will require a significant amount of
writing to be distributed throughout the semester; that writing will comprise a significant portion of the
students final course grade; and that students will have opportunities to incorporate readers critiques of
The course will enable students to
a. practice the processes and procedures for creating and completing successful writing in their fields;
b. understand the main features and uses of writing in their fields;
c. adapt their writing to the general expectations of readers in their fields;
d. make use of the technologies commonly used for research and writing in their fields;
e. learn the conventions of evidence, format, usage, and documentation in their fields.
These outcomes will be noted by letter at appropriate points in the syllabus where specific requirements of
the course accomplish those goals.
I. Processes and responses in derivation,
transport, deposition and
diagenesis of sediment
A. Introduction (p. xiii-17)
B. Weathering and derivation of sediment (p.
C. Transport and deposition of siliciclastic
sediment (p. 26-41)
1. Fluid flow and particle transport
2. Gravitational flow
D. Sedimentary structures (p. 42-65 and
1. Primary physical structures
a. bedforms and the concept of flow regime
b. stratification types
2. Soft-sediment deformation structures
3. Biogenic structures
II. Siliciclastic sediments
A. Conglomerates (p. 66-78)
a. grain size
b. grain shape
c. surface texture
3. Classification and occurrence
B. Sandstones (p. 78-101)
a. grain size
b. grain shape
c. surface texture
3. Classification and occurrence
C. Mudrocks (p. 102-119)
2. Origin and occurrence
D. Diagenesis (p. 120-135)
3. Recrystallization and Replacement
4. Diagenetic histories
E. Siliciclastic depositional environments
1. Terrestrial (p. 136-167)
a. alluvial fans
b. fluvial systems
2. Coastal (p. 168-195)
c. barrier complexes
3. Marine (196-227)
b. slope and rise
III. Biogenic, chemical and other nonsiliciclastic
A. Carbonate rocks (p. 230-253)
1. Carbonate mineral chemistry and carbonate
2. Controls on carbonate deposition
3. Limestone components and classification
4. Limestone diagenesis
5. Dolomite and dolomitization
B. Carbonate depositional environments (p.
2. Subtidal shelf
3. Reefs and buildups
C. Other biogenic rocks (p. 282-295)
3. Organic-rich sediments
D. Chemical and non-epiclastic sedimentary
1. Solution geochemistry
2. Iron-rich sedimentary rocks
4. Volcanogenic sedimentary rocks
A. Lithostratigraphy (p. 324-367)
2. Transgression and regression
3. Framework for accumulation
4. Gaps in the record
5. Catastrophic uniformitarianism
7. The nature of the control
8. Time, time-rock and rock units and the
B. Biostratigraphy (p. 368-385)
1. Evolution and paleoecology
2. Biostratigraphic zonation
3. Time-significance of biostratigraphic
4. Index fossils
5. Quantitative biostratigraphy
C. Geophysical and chemostratigraphic
correlation (p. 386-421)
2. Seismic stratigraphy
a. waves in the Earth
b. seismic profiles
d. The Exxon-Vail curve
e. Sequence stratigraphy
D. Geochronology and Chronostratigraphy
1. Radioactive decay
2. Age-dating methods
3. Chronostratigraphy and correlation
4. Constructing the geologic time scale
E. Sedimentary rocks in space and time (p.
1. Basin analysis
2. Stratigraphic diagrams and maps
3. Tectonics and sedimentation
a. cratonic sedimentation
b. plate tectonics
i. divergent margins
ii. convergent margins
iii. transform margins
c. geosynclines and plate tectonics
d. tectonics and sandstone petrology
4. Secular changes in the sedimentary record
a. You are expected to attend all lecture sessions. Exams will draw upon lecture material as well as
readings from the text and outside sources.
b. Attendance in laboratory is required. Missing a lab session without prior approval of the
instructor will result in a zero for that particular exercise.
a. Readings in each topic should be read for general content in advance of the class during which
that topic is being considered, and reread with greater care following each class, in conjunction
with your notes. If you follow this guideline, lectures will be more meaningful, discussion will be
possible, and material in the text will be ultimately more comprehensible.
b. Prior to each class period, warm-up questions will be posted on the course web page. These
questions will be based on the reading for the next class period, and must be answered by each
student via e-mail, no later than 12:00 of the day the class meets. Credit will be given to each
student for answering the questions. Student answers will be reviewed by the instructor, and will
form the basis for the classroom discussion/lecture session. Feedback will also be provided to
students and example peer and instructor essays will be posted on the web so that students can
benefit from review. (outcomes a, b and d). More information on warm-ups is included in the
appendix of the syllabus.
c. In addition to the reading in the text, outside readings will be assigned from time to time. These
readings will serve as a means of supplementing and expanding your knowledge and will be
considered in classroom discussions and on exams. The readings will also introduce you to the main
features and uses of writing in your field, general expectations of readers in your field, and
the conventions of evidence, format, usage, and documentation in your field (outcomes b, c and e).
Questions regarding these readings will also appear on the course web page.
III. Field and laboratory work - You are required to complete field and lab work as assigned. The
format of the work will be explained for each session. Field notes, including written rock
descriptions and sketches, will be required and will follow a standard format (see appendix of
syllabus) (outcomes a-e). Written reports will also be due as a part of field and laboratory work
(outcomes a-e). Some of these reports will be relatively short, while others will be more
comprehensive. Reports will follow a standard format used in the discipline of sedimentology and
stratigraphy (see appendix). You must use Microsoft Word, and Excel to complete these reports.
Some reports will also involve the use of more specialized software for data processing (outcome
d). Plagiraism will result in an automatic zero for these reports. Laboratory topics will generally
coincide with material being studied in the lecture/discussion sessions.
DO NOT TURN IN A FIRST DRAFT OF ANY OF YOUR WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS. IF YOU
DO, YOUR PAPER WILL BE RETURNED WITHOUT EVALUATION, AND YOUR SECOND
SUBMISSION WILL BE DEVALUED BECAUSE OF YOUR FAILURE TO SUBJECT YOUR
WRITING TO CRITICAL REVIEW BEFORE THE INITIAL SUBMISSION. THIS STANDARD
WILL BE APPLIED TO ALL FIELD AND LABORATORY PAPERS, SUMMARY PAPERS, AND TO
YOUR FIRST SUBMISSION OF YOUR FINAL RESEARCH PAPER.
IV. Summaries of outside readings
Each student must complete written summaries of recent articles in sedimentology and stratigraphy
as assigned (outcomes a-e). The summaries are to average 250-500 words apiece and are to be
turned in on the date assigned. The summaries will be evaluated on the basis of grammar,
organization and conciseness, and the communication of the essence of the article. Your choice of
papers will also be taken into account in the evaluation of this component of your grade. Use
GEOREF to search the literature for appropriate papers (outcome d). Each summary must be
prepared using Microsoft Word (outcome d). Plagiarism will result in an automatic zero for the
summary. In addition to the instructors review of each paper, your work will undergo peer
review. The peer review will be "double blind" (that is, neither the writer nor the reviewer
will be known to students).
You must rewrite and resubmit each summary paper based upon the reviews.
V. Research report Each student will complete a research report based upon the field,
laboratory, and library research conducted throughout the course (outcomes a-e). The report
must follow a standard format (see appendix of syllabus) and will be approximately 20-30
double-spaced pages (including figures). The text must be prepared using Microsoft Word.
Elementary data processing, and preparation of graphs and tables will be done using Microsoft
Excel. You may also need to use more specialized software to process directional data, and
drawing software will also be used to prepare diagrams, including stratigraphic sections.
Digital images from the field or lab work may also be inserted into the text to provide
Students will follow a schedule of completion of the report. And as each component of the
report is finished, the instructor will provide feedback and the student must revise the work,
based on those editorial comments. The final draft will also be rewritten from an earlier
draft (not the first draft!!!), based on instructors feedback.
Criteria for grading this report are given in the appendix of the syllabus. Each student must
be aware of these criteria at the start of the project to enable maximum learning.
Finally, suggestions for writing a good abstract and a good scientific paper are also given in
the appendix. While these suggestions are addressed to graduate students and professionals,
most all of the suggestions are entirely appropriate for advanced undergraduates students.
VI. Completion of assignments - Assignments may not be turned in after the announced due date.
Work not completed by the class period on the due date will receive a zero.
VII. Examinations - Three exams will be given, including the final exam. Up to 50 % of the final
exam will be comprehensive. The instructor will not give makeup exams without prior approval.
Excuses for illness will require substantiation from a physician or the university health services.
Exams will make substantial use of essay questions (outcomes a-c). Suggestions for preparation
for exams and for writing successful essay answers are given in the appendix of the syllabus.
Exam #1 12%
Exam #2 12%
Exam #3 12%
Laboratory work 10%
Specific Writing components
Warm-ups (on web page) 10%
Field notes 10%
Literature summaries 10%
Final paper 24%
No student will pass the course without completing all exams and laboratory projects, and achieving
a passing average grade for all aspects of the course.
VIII. Consultation - I will be available for consultation throughout the semester. You are strongly
encouraged to keep in touch, especially if you are having difficulty. Stop by during office hours
(posted on my office door) or make arrangements with me for an appointment. Of course, feel free
to drop by any time you can catch me for whatever.
Textbook: Prothero, D.R., and Schwab, F., 1996, Sedimentary Geology: W.H. Freeman and Company,
New York, 575 p.
Ager, D.V., 1981, The Nature of the Stratigraphical Record: Macmillan, London, 166p.
Allen, J.R.L., 1977, Physical Processes of Sedimentation: Allen and Unwin, London, 248p.
Allen, P.A., and Allen, J.R., 1990, Basin Analysis - Principles and Applications: Blackwell Scientific
Publ., Oxford, England, 451p.
Basan, Paul, and others, 1978, Trace Fossil Concepts: Soc. Econ. Paleontologists and Mineralogists
Short Course No., 5, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 201 p.
Bathurst, R.G.C., 1975, Carbonate Sediments and their Diagenesis: Elsevier, Amsterdam, 658p.
Blatt, H., Berry, W.B.N., and Brande, S., 1990, Principles of Stratigraphic Analysis: Blackwell
Scientific Publications, Oxford, England, 512p.
Blatt, Harvey, Middleton, G.V., and Murray, Raymond, 1980, Origin of Sedimentary Rocks: Prentice-
Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 782 p.
Boggs, Sam, Jr., 1995, Principles of Sedimentology and Stratigraphy: Merrill Publishing Co.,
Columbus, Ohio, 784 p.
Collinson, J.D., and Thompson, D.B., 1982, Sedimentary Structures: Allen and Unwin, Boston, 194 p.
Davis, R.A., Jr., 1983, Depositional Systems: Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 669 p.
Einsele, G., 1992, Sedimentary Basins: Springer-Verlag, New York, 628p.
Friedman, G.M., Sanders, J.E., and Kopaska-Merkel, D.C., 1992, Principles of Sedimentary Deposits:
MacMillan, New York, 717p.
Hallam, A., 1992, Phanerozoic Sea-level Changes: Columbia University Press, New York, 266 p.
Hallam, A., 1981, Facies Interpretation and the Stratigraphic Record: W.H. Freeman and Co., San
Harms, J.C., Southard, J.B., and Walker, R.G., 1982, Structures and Sequences in Clastic Rocks:
Soc. Econ. Paleontologists and Mineralogists Short Course No. 9, Calgary, Canada.
Krumbein, W.C., and Sloss, L.L., 1963, Stratigraphy and Sedimentation: W.H. Freeman and Co., San
Leeder, M.R., 1982, Sedimentology: Process and Product: Allen and Unwin, London, 344p.
Lemon, R.R., 1990, Principles of Stratigraphy: Merrill Publ. Co., Columbus, Ohio, 559p.
Matthews, R.K., 1984, Dynamic Stratigraphy: Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 489p.
Miall, A.D., 1984, Principles of Sedimentary Basin Analysis: Springer-Verlag, New York, 490p.
Middleton, G.V., and Southard, J.B., 1984, Mechanics of Sediment Movement: Soc. Econ.
Paleontologists and Mineralogists Short Course No. 3, second edition, Providence, Rhode Island.
Prothero, D.R., 1989, Interpreting the Stratigraphic Record: Freeman and Co., San Francisco, 410 p.
Reading, H.G., ed., 1986, Sedimentary Environments and Facies: Elsevier, New York, 615 p.
Reineck, H.E., and Singh, I.B., 1980, Depositional Sedimentary Environments: Springer-Verlag,
Schlee, J.S., ed., 1984, Interregional Unconformities and Hydrocarbon Accumulation: American
Association of Petroleum Geologists Memoir 36, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 184 p.
Shaw, A.B., 1964, Time in Stratigraphy: McGraw-Hill, New York.
VanWagoner, J.C., and others, 1990, Siliciclastic Sequence Stratigraphy in Well Logs, Cores and
Outcrops: American Association of Petroleum Geologists Methods in Exploration Series, No. 7,
Tulsa, Oklahoma, 55 p.
Walker, R.G., and James, N.P., eds., 1992, Facies Models-Response to Sea Level Change: Geological
Association of Canada, 409p.
Sedimentology and Stratigraphy Warm-ups
Web assignments will be a significant part of the course. I like to use the "warm-up" concept. Prior
to about half of our class sessions, questions will be posted on the course page ob Blackboard.
These warm-up questions will be based on the reading for the next class period, and must be
answered by each student via e-mail, no later than 12:00 of the day the class meets. Course credit
will be given to each student for making an honest attempt at answering the questions. The
statement on academic honesty and cheating, explained in the syllabus, will apply to these
assignments. Student answers will be reviewed by the instructor, and will form the basis for the
classroom discussion/lecture session. Oftentimes, answers reveal misconceptions that can be dealt
with during the next class.
Warm-ups will be completed using the application called "Blackboard." Instructions for the use of
Blackboard appear below. If you have difficulty accessing the warm-ups through Blackboard, or
difficulty in submitting your answers through Blackboard, consult with me immediately using e-mail
Preparations for Exams
1. When preparing, try to understand how things work, instead of memorizing ideas or phrases. You
need a certain amount of terminology, of course, but being able to recall things doesn't come from
memorizing lists of stuff, but rather comes through working with ideas, trying to fight through the
hows and whys of things instead of just focusing on the whats.
2. Don't just try to memorize things I mention in class, or things that I focus on in warm-ups, but
try to relate an entire reading assignment to the key ideas. So often, students want the instructor
to tell them everything, rather than to have the instructor assist them with understanding how
things work, then expecting them to use that to synthesize a broader set of information from their
3. The authors of the text have enriched your understanding through the inclusion of discussion
about stratigraphic units where the principles you are learning can be applied. You were asked to be
certain to read this material in order to come to a better understanding of the concepts of facies
and depositional systems. It should have been no surprise that questions on this material were on
the exam. Hereafter, be more diligent in your preparation.
4. Just doing the reading never cuts it in a course of any substance. You have to understand the
concepts, how one thing, one idea, relates to another. And that often requires reading and
rereading the material for deeper understanding. It means going back over things several times
until you have it, it means going back over things so that interrelationships can be established, it
means paying very close attention to diagrammatic material, because visual learning is often easier
than the verbal learning from reading the printed words.
5. When taking a written exam such as the ones we do in this course, be certain to strive for
completeness in your responses. If asked to answer something in two sentences, construct your
response in such a way that all the pertinent information required is included in your answer.
Concise doesn't mean incomplete.
6. My exams tend to leave few stones unturned. They are really a record of what we did in class,
and they are built so that they follow the material in the same sequence that it was considered in
class. Look at them as a walk through the course, and prepare accordingly. When you reread one of
these exams, and your responses to it, the exam will essentially be a recap of the course, not just
little snippets that tested you at random.
7. My expectations are high, and I won't insult your intelligence by dumbing down the material.
Remember that you are mature undergraduate students, that some of you are at the end of your
formal education, and that you are about to become professionals. And others of you are preparing
to enter graduate school, where the learning that you accomplish here will stand you in good stead.
8. Please bring questions to me as they arise. Consultation may be able to solve some problems that
independent study, or collaborative study with peers, might not be able to do.
One of the things you should begin working on is the interpretation of the various diagrams in the
text. It is very likely that the first exam will include diagrams similar to key diagrams in the
textbook, and you will be required to answer questions based on them.
Another helpful hint is to read the examples in the boxes in the text. These boxes provide
illustrations of how the principles discussed in any particular section can be applied to real
sedimentologic and/or stratigraphic situations. I may focus on one or more of these boxes on the
exam in order to see if you can apply the principles.
You can expect some questions on the exam, which will deal with faulty geologic statements. In
questions such as these, you will be asked not only to identify which statements show faulty
reasoning, but why do they show faulty reasoning. Identify the problem with the statement and
discuss why it is wrong, don't just fix it.
You will be required to answer some questions on the exam in two sentences or less. This is because
only a short answer is required, and also because you need to learn to state things in a clear and
concise way - get right to the point and provide the necessary documentation in a brief and concise
I will try to build some choices into the exam, so that you can pick and choose what you want to
answer within a given topic. For example, I might ask a series of questions all dealing with, let's say,
textures of sandstones, and require you to answer 3 of 4, or something like that.
Although multiple-choice questions have been used for warm-up purposes, I don't normally ask many
multiple choice questions on my exams Sometimes I'll put a section of matching on the exam, but
multiple choice questions will not appear in any abundance, so don't expect a lot of them.
Often I will ask a series of questions based on a relatively lengthy description of a rock unit in the
field, supplemented with some data from the lab (usually thin section data). I might give a two or
three-paragraph description of a rock unit or formation, then ask a bunch of questions based on
that description. Most of these questions are interpretive, but occasionally some are observationbased
and deal with "what's this, what's that."
Sedimentology/Stratigraphy Research Paper
(Explanation: 1 = excellent 2 = good 3 = satisfactory 4 = poor 5 = unsatisfactory)
Quality of field work (x2)
Quality of Laboratory work
Quality of Abstract
major/minor headings (outline)
body of paper including paragraph construction
separation of data and interpretation
Evidence of proof reading (do not turn in a first draft!)
use of quotations
depth of treatment
presentation of ideas or information representing a variety of viewpoints
synthesis of ideas and information
connection between data and interpretation
quality of interpretations
Use of References
documentation in body of paper
form of "references cited" section
quality of references cited
Stratigraphic sections and correlation diagrams
Graphic display of data
Well-written and complete captions
Proper attribution of figures taken from other work
Use of tables
Overally effectiveness of figures and captions in conveying data and interpretations
Research report - schedule for completion
Week 2 - Selection of topic
Week 4 - Preliminary annotated bibliography
Week 6 - Preliminary outline
Week 8 - Annotated bibliography
Week 10 - Expanded outline
Week 12 - First draft
Week 14 - Final draft
Format for Field Description of Sedimentary Rocks
The major objectives in preparing megascopic descriptions of sedimentary rocks include: (1)
conveying information in field notes that enable other geologists to recognize the lithologies; (2)
providing information that will enable one to map facies; and (3) serving as a basis for making
interpretations of processes and environments of deposition.
Descriptions are made at two levels of observation: (1) outcrop scale; and (2) hand specimen scale.
These two levels of observation require different approaches to rock description. This exercise
considers only that approach used in the description of hand specimens.
Preparation of concise yet complete hand specimen descriptions requires the geologist to make
repeated, organized sets of observations. These observations should be made in the same manner
each time a sample is described, so that the repetition promotes consistency and completeness.
While obvious differences exist between sandstones and carbonate rocks, significant fundamental
similarities are shared by these two rock groups, so that a similar approach to description can be
undertaken. Data should be assembled in brief paragraph form, with punctuation carefully chosen
to separate different categories of data.
Description of siliciclastic and carbonate rocks should begin with weathering characteristics and
fresh colors, and progress through composition, texture, fabric, stratification, and trace and body
For sandstones, the following format is appropriate.
Name of sandstone (quartz sandstone, feldspathic sandstone, lithic sandstone); Weathering
characteristics, colors, fresh colors; Composition of framework, cement; Size of framework
constituents (median, range, vertical variations; (FOR COARSE-GRAINED ROCKS ONLY) - sorting
of framework constituents, rounding of framework constituents, composition and texture of matrix;
Fabric (grain distribution and orientation); Bedding and lamination (how manifested, form,
thickness - includes cross bedding and bedforms); Organic structures; Body fossils.
For limestones, the following format is appropriate
Name of limestone (Dunham) - if dolomitic, or with terrigenous admixture, name should reflect this;
Weathering characteristics, colors, fresh colors; Allochems (grain support vs. mud support,
description and size of allochems, if current transport is apparent describe grain sorting and
effects of abrasion; cement, if visible; recrystallization fabrics; Bedding and lamination (how
manifested, form, thickness - includes cross bedding and bedforms); Organic structures, including
stromatolites and their geometry (an aspect of bedding).
For Dolostones, use the following format:
Name of rock type; Weathering characteristics, colors, any vugs or cavities; fresh colors; Texture,
including crystal size and degree of "granularity" (whether sugary in appearance, or simply
interlocking crystals with little porosity between them), crystal shape if visible; any visible
allochems, such as fossil fragments, oolites, or intraclasts; Bedding and lamination (how
manifested, form, thickness - includes cross bedding and bedforms); Organic structures, including
stromatolites and their geometry (an aspect of bedding)
For Shales, use the following format
Rock Name; weathered color, weathering characteristics such as fissile (breaks into thin chips) or
blocky; fresh color; calcareous or non-calcareous; silty or clayey (determined by chewing); trace
or body fossils
Preparation of Abstracts
(1) as a basis for selecting papers, (2) to aid people in deciding which papers they wish to hear at
a meeting, and (3) as a published document for reference. Each abstract should, therefore, not only
be well presented but also should be informative. Abstracts that contain such statements as "A new
model will be presented," "the problem of . . . will be considered," " . . . will be discussed," or "the . .
. is described," are inadequate. Such abstracts ' outline what papers are about, but do not tell what
they contributed. They are not informative.
One dictionary (Webster's unabr. 2nd ed.) defines an abstract as "That which comprises or
concentrates in itself the essential qualities of a larger thing. . . " Our abstracts must contain
essential information, without added commentary or interpretation. An Abstract differs from a
summary in that the latter is usually a restatement, generally at the end of a paper, only of salient
findings and conclusions. The abstract, on the other hand, also includes other vital portions of a
paper, such as purpose and methods.
The importance of the abstract is stated by K. K. Landes in "The Scrutiny of the Abstract, 11" (in
Cochran, W., and others, eds., 1973, Geowriting: Washington, D.C., Am. Geol. Inst., 80 p.):
"To many writers the preparation of an abstract 'is an unwanted chore required at the last
minute by an editor or insisted upon even before the paper has been written by a
deadline-bedeviled program chairman. However, in terms of market reached, the abstract is the
most important part of the paper. For every individual who reads or listens to your entire paper,
from 10 to 500 will read the abstract.
"If you are presenting a paper before a learned society, the abstract alone may appear in a preconvention
issue of the society journal as well as in the convention program; it may also be run by
trade journals. The abstract, which accompanies a published paper will most certainly reappear in
abstract journals in various languages, and perhaps in company internal circulars as well. It is much
better to please than to antagonize this great audience. Papers written for oral presentation should
be completed prior to the deadline for the abstract, so that the abstract can be prepared from the
written paper and not from raw ideas gestating in the writer's mind." [p. 34]
B. H. Weil, in "Standards for Writing Abstracts" (in Cochran and others), noted the following on
the purpose and importance of abstracts:
"A well-prepared abstract enables readers to identify the basic content of a document quickly
and accurately, to determine its relevance to their interests, and thus to decide whether they need
to read the document in its entirety. Readers for whom the document is of fringe interest often
obtain enough information from the abstract to make their reading of the whole document
unnecessary. Therefore, every primary document should include a good abstract. Secondary
publications and services that provide bibliographic citations of pertinent documents should also
include good abstracts if at all possible." [p. 361]
"For various reasons, it is desirable that the author write an abstract that the secondary
services can reproduce with little or no change. These reasons include the economic pressures on
the secondary services caused by continuing increases in the volume of scholarly publication; the
need for greater promptness on the part of the secondary services in publishing information about
the primary literature; and the growing value of good authors' abstracts in computerized full-text
searching for alerting and information retrieval." [p. 351]
Weil (ibid.) offers the following recommendations for writing good abstracts:
"Make the abstract as informative as the document will permit, so that readers may decide
whether they need to read the entire document. State the purpose, methods, results, and
conclusions presented in the document, either in that order or with initial emphasis on findings," [p.
"For most papers and portions of monographs, an abstract of fewer than 250 words will be
adequate. For notes and short communications, fewer than 100 words should suffice. Editorials and
Letters to the Editor often will require only a single-sentence abstract. For long documents such as
reports and theses, an abstract generally should not exceed 500 words and preferably should
appear on a single page.
"Begin the abstract with a topic sentence that is a central statement of the document's major
thesis, but avoid repeating the words of the document's title if that is nearby.
"Write a short abstract as a single, unified paragraph, but use more than one paragraph for long
abs tracts, e.g., those in reports and theses. Write the abstract in complete sentences, and use
transitional words and phrases for coherence.
"Use verbs in the active voice whenever possible; they contribute to clear, brief, forceful writing.
The passive voice, however, may be used for indicative statements and even for informative
statements in which the receiver of the action should be stressed.
"Avoid unfamiliar terms, acronyms, abbreviations, or symbols; or define them the first time they
occur in the abstract.
"Include short tables, equations, structural formulas ' and diagrams only when necessary for
brevity and clarity." [p. 371]
Whereas an abstract should present the quantitative and (or) qualitative information in a paper,
Weil (ibid.) points out that this is sometimes impractical.
"However, some discursive or lengthy texts, such as broad overviews, review papers, and entire
monographs, may permit the preparation of an abstract that is only an indicative or descriptive
guide to the type of document and what it is about. A combined informative-indicative abstract
must often be prepared when limitations on the length of the abstract or the type and style of the
document make it necessary to confine informative statements to the primary elements of the
document and to relegate other aspects to indicative statements
Format for giving reference
Purkait, Barendra, 2002, Patterns of grain-size distribution in some point bars of the Usri River,
India: Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 72, p. 367-375,
If both the first name and middle initial of the author are known, then give the initials only for the
first and middle names.
Note that only proper nouns are capitalized in the title of a journal article, in addition to the first
letter of the title.
Always put a colon after the title of the article but before the name of the journal.
Do not abbreviate the name of the journal.
Do not give the number of the issue following the volume. Give volume only, and abbreviate with a
lower case "v."
Use "p" for page numbers, not "pp."
A period always follows the completed reference.
The format for citing a paper in a monograph of collected papers is different. The format for
citing a monograph is also different. See the "Suggestions to Authors" section at the end of the
appendix for additional information on format of references.
USGS Report Standards
(Condensed by J. Meyers)
From "Suggestions to Authors of the reports of the United States Geological Survey," sixth
A. Page setup, font, and spacing specifications
1. Paper: 8 1/2" x 11" with 6 1-2" x 9" image area
2. Microsoft Word, font size 10 pt., Times New Roman
3. Spacing: Drafts should be double-spaced, final reports single-spaced on one side of page.
Leave two lines of space between paragraphs.
B. Title Page
1. The title should be brief and stated with clarity. However, do not use a pyramid of prefixes or
several adjectives in an attempt to shorten the title. For example, "Neogene geochronobioclimato
paleomagneto stratigraphy" is inappropriate.
2. The title is centered on the title page just above the middle, followed by two spaces and then the
name of the author, also centered on the page.
C "Contents", "Illustrations", and "Tables" - The paper should include lists of contents, illustrations and tabl
1. "Contents" (The word "Contents" is upper case and centered on the page.)
a. Consists of headings appearing in the paper, beginning four spaces beneath the word "contents".
b. Rank of the headings should be indicated by appropriate indentation under the
preceding related headings. (Indent each rank four spaces.)
c. The heading should be followed by a series of periods extending to the "page" column
where the appropriate page numbers of each heading are given.
a. The word "illustration" is typed in upper case letters and centered on the page four
spaces below the last item listed under contents.
b. Type the word "Figure" flush with the left margin, followed by the figure number and
a period, followed by the figure title (upper and lower case letters).
c. Follow the figure title by a series of periods, extending to the page column.
3. "Tables" - Directly analogous to "Illustrations".
D. Headings - OBS reports use only four levels of headings.
1. First level headings: Include titles of each of the major parts
of the report. It should be centered between the margins, typed
in capitals, not underlined.
2. Second level headings: Used to indicate subordinate topics within major parts of the
report. Typed in all capital letters set-flush with left margin. Leave 3 lines of space above
this heading and two lines of space between it and the following paragraph.
3. Third level headings: Used to subdivide material. appearing under a second level heading.
Typed in capital and lowercase letters, underlined, and set flush with left margins; leave two
lines of space above and two between it and the following paragraph.
4. Fourth level headings: Paragraph headings indented the same number of spaces as ordinary
paragraphs (five-space indent). Initial capital letter only; underlined, followed by a period.
Methods. (text starts here
1. All figures should be made to fit the 6 1/2" x 9" image area.
2. Figure caption should be centered below each figure with only the first letter of first
3. Example: Figure 1. Location of channel sample sites.
1. All numbered and given a descriptive title.
2. Size: all tables should fit within 6 1/2" x 9" image area.
3. Capitalize the first letter of each word in table title.
4. Example: Table 4. Channel Lengths for Iowa Rivers
1. The abstract should be the initial first-order heading and should typed on the first page
of the body of the report.
2. For most reports, the abstract should specify the problem; the method of attack, the type
of data used, and should briefly state the conclusions. It should be informative rather than
descriptive, and should be a complete unit, independent from the text. See suggestions for
preparation of abstracts, given earlier in this syllabus.
3. Read abstracts from a variety of papers to become familiar with the writing of this very
important part of your report.
1. Designated by capital letters.
2. Requirements for tables and illustrations in the main text also
applicable to appendix tables and illustrations.
I. Footnotes break the reader's train of thought and are seldom needed in scientific writing. A
well-constructed paragraph should need no explanatory (in effect, parenthetical) footnote.
1. For documentation in the text, references are cited by giving author's surname and year of
publication. For quotes and specific reference to data, a page number is also given.
a. If the reference pertains to only one text sentence, the information is given in parentheses
at the end of the sentence unless the reference is not pertinent to some part of the
sentence, as in: Anchorage was severely damaged by landslides around subsidence and
fissures during the 1964 earthquake (Hansen and others 1966), but little effect of
this damage is now visible .
b. If the author's name naturally falls in the sentence, only the date and page reference
are included within the parentheses, as in: Scholler (1911, p. 49) reported that the type
specimen of this material contained 3.21 percent Li2O.
c. If the reference pertains to more than one preceding sentence it may be identified in
a separate sentence, as (See Hansen and others, 1966).
d. See pages 714-75, "Suggestions to Authors of Reports of the U.S. Geological Survey,
6th ed., for more details.
2. The list of references cited (alphabetized by surnames) should follow the last page of the
text and should be titled "References Cited" (upper case letters, centered at the top of the
page). Use the following format (See P. 76-81, "Suggestions to Authors, 6th ed., for additional
examples). Repetition of a name or group of names is avoided by use of dashes.
a. Articles in journals
Handin, J. W., and Griggs, David, 1951, Predicted fabric changes, pt. 2 of Deformation of
Yule Marble: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 62, p. 863-886.
Note that modern style requires no abbreviations in the journal name, and the number of
the volume is not given.
Ritter, D. F., 1978, Process Geomorphology: Dubuque, Iowa, Wm. C. Brown, 603 P.
Note that the first letter of all essential words in the title is upper case (excluding
conjunctions, prepositions, etc.)
c. Articles or chapters in book which represent a compilation
Thayer, T. P., 1967, Chemical and structural relation of ultramafic and feldspar rocks in
Alpine intrusive complexes , in Wyllie, P. J., ed., Ultramafic and Related Rocks: New York,
John Wiley, p. 222-239.
Note: Individual journals have their own style of listing references and the author should
confirm the appropriate usage when submitting papers.
B. Capitalization: see CBE Style Manual
C. Prefixes, Suffixes, Combining Forms
1. All words formed by adding a prefix or combining form to a base element are written solid.
e.g. nondegrading, preimpoundment, semistable
2. Except after co, de, pre, pro, an(l re, use a. hyphen to avoid doubling a vowel or consonant
3. Use a hyphen before like (e.g. lake-like environment).
4. Compound adjectives should be hyphenated.
1. Use numerals for a single number of 10 or more (50 books, 10 samples).
2. Use numerals for numbers under 10 that are fractional (1.5 points).
3. Use numerals for standard units of measure (19 mm, 10 km), time
(5 hours, 12 years), dates, mathematical expressions (a factor of 5)
E. Metric and Decimal Systems
1. Use a metric system of measurements with equivalent units expressed parenthetically if
2. Use decimal system, not fractions (0.25, not 1/4).
1. The author is obligated to quote only the exact words of the reference, not the
typographical or compositional style.
2. There is no obligation to reproduce antiquated or incorrect spelling, capitalization,
punctuation, and grammar.
3. Omissions in quoted matter are indicated by three asterisks.
G. Writing Checklist
1. Avoid strange or rare words, foreign words or phrases.
2. Use simple sentence structure, minimum of punctuation.
3. Use the active voice rather than passive voice.
4. Use past tense to describe what was done and what was found. Use present and future
tenses to express facts, laws and conclusions. Never use first person writing in a report!
Example: I found a great deal of information
H. BEWARE OF PLAGIARISM