Geography and geology class studies diverse landscape history of Ozarks
|Date: Tuesday, May 1st, 2012||Return to Archive|
A group of WKU geography and geology students participated in a fieldtrip winding through the Ozarks, including the Salem Plateau and the St. Francois Mountain area of southeastern Missouri, as part of a Spring 2012 course in Geomorphology taught by Dr. Jason Polk.
The trip was co-led by recent WKU graduate and Hoffman Institute staff member Benjamin Miller, a Missouri native who completed his thesis on complex springs systems in the area, along with WKU graduate student Nicholas Lawhon, who is completing a thesis related to chemical dissolution of karst (caves and springs) landscapes in Kentucky.
The purpose of the trip was to engage students in fieldwork related to fluvial, glacial, climatic and karst geomorphological processes and landforms, along with weathering and tectonic processes. The trip provided them with hands-on experience in studying and understanding these complex landscapes in a region that provides a natural classroom with diverse examples of geomorphology from 1.4 billion years of Earth’s history.
“Textbooks, pictures and lectures provide information, but nothing can compare to actually going out and seeing the features you are studying,” said undergraduate geology student Jenna Nall of Elizabethtown.
Geography karst geoscience major Micah Ruth of Bowling Green said the “very informative trip to south-central Missouri provided a collection of geomorphological history that tied together the course concepts from class well.”
In addition to Nall and Ruth, four other students participated in the course — undergraduates Evan Crowe of Scottsville, Kyle Hogancamp of Paducah and Nancy Toney of Munfordville, and graduate student Gilman Ouellette of Hawley, Pa.
The group visited several distinct regions to gain a comparative understanding of various geomorphological processes and landforms. One major theme was visiting the karst region of the Salem Plateau, which formed in sedimentary rocks, to examine fluvial (river) and karst processes.
The stops included Missouri’s largest spring and several smaller springs, the large losing stream of Logan Creek, and a visit to Onondaga Cave State Park to tour the spectacular evolution of an iconic Missouri cave system. Another stop for a different type of geomorphology included a long hike through the Pickle Springs Natural Area to see arches and canyons that formed in sedimentary sandstone bedrock.
The group’s other theme included the igneous geomorphology caused by volcanic and tectonic activity, which included several “shut-ins,” or constricted areas, that occur in streams when the harder igneous rock erodes away more slowly than surrounding rocks. The students also visited Taum Sauk Mountain, the highest point in Missouri, to learn about igneous glades and observe lichens, frost wedging, and other erosive processes.
A favorite stop was Elephant Rocks State Park to observe a large granitic exfoliation dome where elephant-size rocks remain after millions of years of erosion and weathering has rounded them out as they erode along weaknesses in the rock caused by “unloading” when pressure is released through tectonic uplift.
“I am very pleased that our students gain experience in the field by visiting one of the most unique and diverse geomorphological areas near WKU with all that the Ozarks offer, and it was greatly enhanced by having a local expert like Ben Miller helping to lead the trip” Dr. Polk said.
“I am very pleased with how engaged the students were and wish the trip could have been longer. For a subject like geomorphology, getting out of the classroom and into the field is necessary to truly appreciate and understand the concepts, and at each stop we also discussed the human aspects of geomorphology in shaping our environment, which produces critical thinking about applied geomorphology in the real world.”
Dr. David Keeling, head of the Department of Geography and Geology, noted that “field trips are one of the hallmarks of our discipline, and we make every effort each semester to get our students out into the local, regional, and international landscapes. There’s no better way to learn than to smell, taste, see, feel and hear the physical and cultural environment under study.”
Contact: Jason Polk, (270) 745-5015.
- All Categories
- Academic Outreach
- Continuing & Professional Development
- Distance Learning
- Summer Sessions
- Winter Term
- Career & Workforce Development
- Lifelong Learning
- Society for Lifelong Learning
- WKU On Demand
- Study Away
- Faculty-Led Study Abroad
- Center for Faculty Development
- Cohort Programs
- Dual Credit
- Conferencing & Catering
- All Categories
- March 2016 ICYMI
- CHHS October 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS March 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS April 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS June 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2012 E-Newsletter
- April 2016 ICYMI
- CHHS November 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS March 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS April 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May/June 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2013 E-Newsletter
- Archived CHHS News
- CHHS October 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS April 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS June 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2015 E-Newsletter
- December 2015 ICYMI
- January 2016 ICYMI
- MAY 2016 ICYMI
- February 2016 ICYMI
- CHHS September 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS June 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2011 E-Newsletter
Finals Week is May 9th – May 13th.
download Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Note: documents in Excel format (XLS) require Microsoft Viewer,
Note: documents in Word format (DOC) require Microsoft Viewer,
Note: documents in Powerpoint format (PPT) require Microsoft Viewer,
Note: documents in Quicktime Movie format [MOV] require Apple Quicktime,