Preparation Questions

Before each class lecture I will post here a list of preparation questions. These questions are designed to prepare you for each lecture. If we have a pop quiz on the listed day, it will include these questions AND at least one surprise question from previous lectures to encourage  review. I recommend you thus have answers for them — at least in your head! — before each class meeting. You will have twelve pop quizzes by the end of the course, with the lowest two grades dropped. If you are absent for any reason when a quiz is given (other than a scheduled college event you told me about in advance), your grade will be recorded as a zero. You may use any source to answer these questions before class. For a quiz, of course, you’re on your own.

May 2 (Thursday) —

1. Today we will review and assess the article by DePalma et al. (2019) detailing what is purported to be sediments and fossils “from the last day of the Cretaceous”. It is in your Dropbox folders and linked above. Be ready for a thorough analysis of the arguments and evidence.


April 30 (Tuesday) —

1. On Tuesday our only topic is how tectonics influence sedimentation patterns. Please review what we did on Thursday and have questions ready.

2. On Thursday we will review the DePalma et al. (2019) paper in detail. I’ve placed copies in your Dropbox folders. Start reading it over the weekend, please!


April 25 (Thursday) —

1. On Thursday we return to stratigraphy, so please review what we covered on this topic earlier in class.

2. During Thursday’s lab we will have a campus field trip. If you know of cool sedimentary rocks and features on campus, we may add them to our itinerary!


April 23 (Tuesday) —

1. Please list the basic types of coal in order of increasing carbon content.

2. What is methane?


April 18 (Thursday) —

1. What is a phosphorite? What is the most common phosphate mineral involved?


April 16 (Tuesday) —

1. Today I want you to report all you can about the mineral pyrite in a sedimentary context. Start with its formula, then its occurrences, and finally the chemical conditions under which it is stable.


April 11 (Thursday) —

1. A topic today will be continuing siliceous sediments. Tell me what you can about our friends the radiolarians, concentrating on their life habits and skeletal structure.


April 9 (Tuesday) —

1. A topic today will be siliceous sediments. Tell me what you can about our friends the diatoms, concentrating on their life habits and skeletal structure.


April 2 (Tuesday) —

1. What is the carbonate compensation depth (ccd)?


March 28 (Thursday) —

1. Be prepared to tell me all you can about our friends the ooids. This includes how they form and how they vary.


March 26 (Tuesday) —

1. Coral reefs! Prepare to describe the differences between fringing, barrier, and atoll reefs.

2. How does an atoll form?


March 7 (Thursday) —

1. Dolomite! What is the chemical formula of this mineral? What is its crystal system?

2. Dolomite will form when seawater has an elevated Mg/Ca ratio. What are ways in which we can raise this ratio in shallow seawater?


March 5 (Tuesday) —

1. Calcite Seas are a fascinating geochemistry phenomenon. Please describe a Calcite Sea and how you would recognize the depositional products of one.


February 28 (Thursday) —

1. An important non-skeletal carbonate grain type is the intraclast. What is a carbonate intraclast and how do they form?

2. Skeletal grains are very common in carbonate rocks. On average, how would skeletal grains from the Ordovician differ from those in an equivalent modern carbonate environment?


February 26 (Tuesday) —

1. Calcite is the best of minerals — the very best. Tell me all you can about this wonderful mineral, including its composition, crystal system and stability.


February 21 (Thursday) —

1. Stromatolites! The ultimate interaction of life and sediment. Who makes stromatolites? How are they constructed?

2. How old are the oldest stromatolites?


February 19 (Tuesday) —

1. There are two tides in most places: spring and neap. How are they different and what causes them?


February 12 (Tuesday) —

1. Are large marine deltas typically found on the leading (active) or trailing (passive) edges of continents? Why?


February 7 (Thursday) —

1. The stream flow equation is Q=wdv. What is the stream flow (Q) for a stream 1.0 meters wide (w), 15 centimeters deep (d) and moving at 10 centimeters per second (v)? For goodness sakes, don’t forget to convert units!


February 5 (Tuesday) —

1. Please be ready to discuss saltation, especially saltation in the wind. Work into your description the Bernoulli Principle, laminar and turbulent flow, and the effect of fluid viscosity.

2. What sedimentary processes happen on a playa?


January 31 (Thursday) —

1. Please be prepared to define and draw these three types of unconformities: nonconformity, angular unconformity, and disconformity.

2. And practice your calculations!


January 29 (Tuesday) —

1. I want you to thoroughly understand sedimentary flow regimes when we start our next class. Use those diagrams I gave you during Tuesday’s discussion.

2. And practice your calculations!


January 24 (Thursday) —

1. Learn all you can about current ripples (sometimes called ripple marks) in sand. Be ready to define stoss, lee, crest, trough, wavelength and other relevant terms.


January 22 (Tuesday) —

1. What is Stokes’ Law and how is it used in sedimentology?

2. What is the Reynolds Number and how is it used in sedimentology?


January 17 (Thursday) —

1. What is the difference between permeability and porosity?

2. Why is quartz the most common siliciclastic mineral in sedimentary rocks?  (And what does siliciclastic mean, anyway?)

3. Feldspar minerals undergo hydrolysis during weathering on the Earth’s surface.  What is hydrolysis and what are the results from the hydrolysis of feldspar minerals?  We will come back to this process several times in this course.

4. Always be ready for a review question!




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