The Quaternary Glacio-Fluvial History of the Upper Midwest Using Anaglyph Stereo Maps

Kate Pound
Earth & Atmospheric Sciences Department, St. Cloud State University
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Initial Publication Date: December 12, 2013 | Reviewed: July 21, 2015
Upper Midwest poster
Students examine the anaglyph stereo map (with red/cyan glasses) and use textures to generate a surficial geology map of the Upper Midwest. They can then interpret the textures in terms of landforms, geomorphic features, and earth-surface processes, as well as evaluate evidence for the relative age of the large-scale features.
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I have used it as a 'focused' two-hour exercise for Middle and High School teachers. I have also used it as a 2-hour exercise with Introductory Geology Students. My 'favorite' approach is the way I have used it to frame a 300-level (Junior) course "Surficial and Glacial Geology."

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered:

Can be done with students that have no experience with earth Science concepts, as well as with graduate-level students that are familiar with glacial processes, landforms and geomorphology.

How the activity is situated in the course:

When I use it in the 300-level (Junior) course, I start the course (first day) by getting the students to use the stereo anaglyph map to make a surficial geologic map. After reviewing the units they have identified, I then use the map units they have identified (which always tend to be essentially the same, and the ones I would choose, despite some 'lumpers' and 'splitters') to frame the course so it will cover surficial & glacial processes, landforms, tectonic geomorphology, dating, regional geomorphic history. At the end of the course I ask them to either write a paper on the geomorphic history of the Upper Midwest, or I give them a copy of the map for their final exam.

National or State Education Standards addressed by this activity?:

9-12 Content Standard A (Scientific Inquiry; Content Standard D (Evolution of the Earth System); Content Standard F (Environmental Quality, Natural Resources)
5-8 Content Standard D (Structure of Earth System); Content Standard G (Nature of Science)


Content/concepts goals for this activity:

Using large-scale elevation maps to determine the distribution and timing of processes associated with landform development.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity:

Decision-making about placement of boundaries; decision-making about the number of surficial units recognized; interpreting processes from observations of large-scale patterns.

Other skills goals for this activity:

I use their intial maps to segue into them researching a specific process/landform on georef, and becoming the 'expert on that landform / process. The students write a 'term-paper' type report on the Quaternary Surficial and Glacial geology of the Upper Midwest.

Description of the activity/assignment

In the 'whole course' version of this activity, students make a map of the Quaternary of the Upper Midwest, based on their observations of the Anaglyph Stereo Map. They pose a series of questions, which I use as a segue to them researching specific processes, landforms or localities (they learn to use Georef and Refworks). We then (as a class) examine each of the depositional settings mapped, and the processes and landforms produced. This is done through topographic maps, aerial photos, cores, field work, field photos, and the reading of journal articles (as well as their text book). They also process sediments and undertake grain counts for provenance studies. the large scale of the map helps the students visualize the aereal extand of the processes and landforms as we examine them. They also develop a sense of the quality of evidence associated with the interpretation of the Quaternary record in the Upper Midwest, and areas of 'uncertainty.' They write a 'term paper' about some aspect of the surficial and glacial history of the Upper Midwest.

Determining whether students have met the goals

1. Initial map activity - they make a simple geomorphic map complete with key and clearly marked contacts. The write a very short summary discussing their initial interpretation.
2. Final evaluation is the term paper or the map and written answer they produce in the final exam.

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