GEOLOGY | ENVIRONMENTAL GEOLOGY | HYDROLOGY | GEOCHEMISTRY
Oklahoma is a playground for geoscientists. We followed geology master’s student Delcio who, like geoscientists who come from around the world to study our unique topography, headed into Oklahoma’s unique field.
“Oklahoma encompasses old tectonic plate boundaries --including remnants of mountain belts that formed during the assembly of the supercontinent of Pangea. Yes, the landscape is worn down, but includes an amazing record of changes in Earth’s crust, sea levels, climate, and life over the last billion years.”
Dr. Lynn Soreghan
“The rocks beneath Oklahoma have seen a lot of history - from continental collisions and shallow inland seas, to magma intrusions, uplift, erosion, and soil formation. This diverse and exciting history has produced diverse and exciting rocks for our students to explore. Geologists from around the world come to Oklahoma to study our rocks in the field. As a geoscience student at OU, you get to study these rocks up close and personal in the classroom, field, and lab.”
Dr. Megan Elwood Madden
Explore the Field
In fall 2021, the OU School of Geosciences will celebrate its 120th anniversary of student field trips. OU geoscience students have been going into the field longer than many geology programs because faculty know its importance.
“Geoscientists go to the field because that’s where the rocks are! We can make maps of rock units, take data on how the rocks are folded or faulted, or bring samples of rocks or fossils back to our labs for further investigation. It is important to go to the field to understand the large-scale context of the landscape. We need to look at the whole area to understand the context of the rocks we see there – what types of rocks, how they are oriented in space, and what the topography looks like. We can do this by being in the field, on the ground, and then we can go back to lab and also use tools like Google Earth to do the same thing and help augment our field observations.”
Dr. Shannon Dulin
Explore with the Proper Equipment
Delcio is carrying three essential tools for geoscientists: a field notebook, rock hammer and Brunton compass. In order to describe rocks, it is best to have a fresh surface free of dirt or vegetation. He will use that hammer to break off a fresh piece of rock and then use his magnifying glass to investigate.
He’ll then use the compass to figure out the strike and dip of the rock. That tells him the orientation of the rock in space so he can look at the structure in the area – what large-scale forces shaped the landscape and possible moved or folded the rock. He’ll record all this information in his field notebook.
Explore the World Beyond Rocks
Did you know that geoscientists study all the Earth’s materials, not just rocks? Geoscientists connect chemistry, physics, and biology to study integrated Earth systems and processes that affect not only rocks and minerals, but also water quality, global climate and our communities.
“Delcio is gathering water samples to take back to the lab. There he can focus on water chemistry to learn more about the environment like near-surface geologic processes, the effects humans have on our water resources and the changes in atmospheric chemistry over time connect to organisms that evolved and thrived on Earth’s surface.”
Dr. Megan Elwood Maden and Dr. Kato Dee
“The water Delcio is sampling here in the Chickasaw Recreation area near Sulfur is a mixture of old water that has spent thousands of years moving deep beneath the surface and surface water that recently entered the stream as runoff from precipitation.”