Using Easily Accessible Subsurface Data to Teach Crucial Geological Skills
University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama 36688
Many university geology departments have nearby access to outstanding outcrops, facilitating straightforward instruction of fundamental geological skills, such as describing and measuring geological units, constructing columnar sections, and correlating geological units to produce cross sections and fence diagrams, etc. Other programs are not so fortunate, having little, if any, actual geology with which to teach future generations of geoscientists. However, a treasure trove of subsurface data is almost always available to geology programs in the form of on-campus geotechnical borings (from new building foundation studies), water wells, and associated reports. Such information, commonly on file in campus engineering or maintenance offices, can include local well cuttings and core descriptions, professionally constructed geological columns and cross sections, and even geophysical well logs. Such information can be acquired and utilized to teach many "real world" geological skills, including subsurface correlation and mapping. Establishing relationships with these campus data suppliers can even lead to opportunities for "hands-on" field exercises as new borings and wells are drilled. In these situations, students get the chance to simulate many of the field duties and data collection procedures required of actual entry-level geological professionals ("sitting" wells, collecting and describing lithological samples documenting field activities, running aquifer tests, etc.). In addition to these obvious resume building "teaching moments," libraries of local subsurface information (cores, cuttings, lithological samples, well logs, pumping test data, etc.) can be amassed over time for future instruction.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90158©2012 GCAGS and GC-SEPM 6nd Annual Convention, Austin, Texas, 21-24 October 2012