Geoscience Colloquia for Spring 2008 Semester

Thursday February 7, 2008 4:00

Dr. Martine Savard
Geological Survey of Canada
Title: TBA
Lapham Hall 262
Refreshments will be served at 3:30 in the conference room (Lapham 380)

Tuesday February 19, 2008 4:00

Dr. Kirk Johnson
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
AAPG Distinguished Lecturer
Title: Crocodiles in Greenland and Hippos in London: A Fossil-Fueled Tour of Past and Future Climates
AAPG Website:
Biography Website: Dr. Kirk Johnson Biography
Lapham Hall 262


Earth’s climate is driven by the interaction of solar energy with land, sky, and oceans. While this has always been the case, shifting positions of continents and the ever-changing chemistry and currents of oceans and air have created a world with a complex history.

Most of Earth history has occurred during greenhouse conditions when there were no polar ice caps. Less common were icehouse conditions when there were polar ice caps that waxed and waned between glacial and interglacial periods. This history is written in stone and told by fossils.

Fossil plants from 50 million years ago show that the polar regions were ice free and densely forested and that tropical rainforests reached middle latitudes.

The talk will take you from the Amazon Basin to the High Arctic and into Deep Time as he explains our planet’s history by visiting fossil sites on different continents and using them to reconstruct lost worlds, extinct biomes, and ancient climates.

Recent advances in geochronology allow the fossil record to be dated with increasing precision, thus providing some context for understanding climate change and global warming in the present and future.

Thursday March 6, 2008 4:00

Dr. Ellen Cowan
Appalachian State University
Glacial-marine sedimentology
Title: "Glacimarine Sedimentation in Muir Inlet, Alaska from LGM to present"
Lapham Hall 262

Refreshments will be served at 3:30 in the conference room (Lapham 380)

Thursday April 24, 2008 4:00

Dr. Kevin Hefferan
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Title: "Geology of Bou Azzer, Anti-Atlas Mountains, Morocco"
Website: UW Stevens Point Hefferan Page
Lapham Hall 262

Refreshments will be served at 3:30 in the conference room (Lapham 380)

Thursday May 1, 2008 4:00

Paul Morin
University of Minnesota
Geoscience Education
Title: "Visualization in the Earth Science Classroom:
The High-end, the Low-end and the GeoWall"
Lapham Hall 262


Paul Morin

Remarkably few students enrolled in introductory earth science courses have any intention of continuing in earth science, and for most students, these classes are often the last science course they will take in their academic careers. These students would be better served, if the course was instead designed to be a 'concluding' science course. One that explicitly provided students with the knowledge they need to become more informed citizens in the global community.

The University of Minnesota is attempting to develop a national model of an effective 'concluding' earth science course by integrating three essential approaches: use of regional case studies to increase student comprehension; a comprehensive evaluation of students' prior knowledge, misconceptions and post-instructional knowledge that is woven throughout the project; and, an ambitious use of 'GeoWall' stereo projection systems to facilitate the students' use of maps and data sets and level the classroom playing field with regard to spatial conceptualization.

In every discipline there are some critical skills or assessments that serve as conscious or unconscious 'gate-keepers' for progress in that field. In earth science, map interpretation is probably the critical restriction curtailing students' ability to access and explore course concepts. So much of our discipline's information is encoded in maps, that students who are not innately predisposed to understanding maps find it difficult to understand much of the course content and methodology.

GeoWall stereo projection systems can reduce the efficiency of this 'gate-keeping' process, allowing students of diverse backgrounds and abilities to understand map data and succeed in the course. In doing so, these systems will not only help increase students' scientific literacy, but may also greatly increase the diversity of students who do go on to consider earth science as a potential career.