Incorporating Cutting Edge Scientific Results from the Margins-Geoprisms Program into the Undergraduate Curriculum, Rupturing Continental Lithosphere Part I: Introducing Seismic Interpretation and Isostasy Principles Using Gulf of California Examples

Friday, 19 December 2014
Melissa A Lamb, Univ St Thomas, Saint Paul, MN, United States, Susan M Cashman, Humboldt State Univ, Arcata, CA, United States, Rebecca J Dorsey, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, United States, Scott E K Bennett, Geologic Hazards Science Center, Golden, CO, United States, John P Loveless, Smith College, Northampton, MA, United States and Andrew Mark Goodliffe, University of Alabama, Geological Sciences, Tuscaloosa, AL, United States
The NSF-MARGINS Program funded a decade of research on continental margin processes. The NSF-GeoPRISMS Mini-lesson Project, funded by NSF-TUES, is designed to integrate the significant findings from the MARGINS program into open-source college-level curriculum. The Gulf of California (GOC) served as the focus site for the Rupturing Continental Lithosphere initiative, which addressed several scientific questions: What forces drive rift initiation, localization, propagation and evolution? How does deformation vary in time and space, and why? How does crust evolve, physically and chemically, as rifting proceeds to sea-floor spreading? What is the role of sedimentation and magmatism in continental extension?

We developed two weeks of curriculum designed for an upper-division structural geology, tectonics or geophysics course. The curriculum includes lectures, labs, and in-class activities that can be used as a whole or individually. The first set of materials introduces the RCL initiative to students and has them analyze the bathymetry and oblique-rifting geometry of the GOC in an exercise using GeoMapApp. The second set of materials has two goals: (1) introduce students to fundamental concepts of interpreting seismic reflection data via lectures and in-class interpretation of strata, basement, and faults from recent GOC seismic data, and (2) encourage students to discover the structural geometry and rift evolution, including the east-to-west progression of faulting and transition from detachment to high-angle faulting in the northern GOC, and changes in deformation style from north to south. In the third set of materials, students investigate isostatic affects of sediment fill in GOC oblique rift basins. This activity consists of a problem set, introduced in a lecture, where students integrate their findings from the previous bathymetry- and seismic-interpretation exercises.