Early Undergraduate Research
Opportunity - Mapping in the badlands of Toadstool Geologic Park,
Nature of opportunity: To obtain 3 credits of independent study, explore
geoscience as a discipline and career option, learn about Nebraska's
geology, participate in a unique field experience, and be part
of a research team investigating how the earth's crust deforms.
Intended audience: This is meant specifically for students who have had
only intro level courses in geoscience, or who have not had geoscience
course work, but who are interested in science as a potential
career path. There is no future commitment required, just an existing
interest in exploring science as a career option. Geoscience majors
are welcome to participate in the project through other mechanisms
(please see me if interested). An absolute maximum of ten students
Description of project:
In northwest Nebraska, near Crawford, is Toadstool Geologic Park.
Here, numerous fractures, veins and faults deform the sediments,
and can be studied in great detail in the excellent badland exposures.
These faults and veins are unusually well exposed, creating an
almost unparalleled natural laboratory for the investigation of
crack and fault geometries. This geologic 'window', in turn, provides
insight into how the earth's crust deforms in the middle of a
continent and tectonic plate, far away from plate boundaries such
as the San Andreas fault. Using GPS (global positioning system)
units) we have started to build a very detailed database on the
position, orientation and characteristics of these faults, veins
and fractures. Initial results are very promising. The purpose
of this summer's project is to build on this initial work, greatly
expand the database, and eventually to better understand how the
interior of plates can also deform. This project is particularly
well suited to provide an early undergraduate research experience,
as the project can be broken down easily into simple parts that
are easy for someone without geologic training to understand and
participate in. This is an actual research project.
Link to related student project.
The adjacent picture is of some
of stepped veins standing up above the mud cracked sediments.
Note how the tips curl towards each other.
Time: There will
be three parts to the course:
- An initial 3 hour meeting to arrange logistics,
cover some introductory lecture material, and hand out readings.
June 18th (exact time to be announced).
- A week of field work in Toadstool Geologic
Park. One day will be taken in traveling to the site, five days
will be dedicated to field work and collecting data, and one
day will be taken in returning to Omaha. We will make stops on
the way there and back to learn more about the geology of the
state overall. We will camp, although a town is nearby for recreation
and shower purposes. From June 27th to July 3rd.
- A week of compiling, plotting and analyzing
the data using the departments computer lab, followed by writing
a summary report. The grade will be based on participation, the
field notebook, and the final report. All participants contributions
will be formally recognized in any of the resultant products.
From July 5th to July 9th.
Cost: The cost is being subsidized by an NSF grant to UNO.
Tuition, transportation, and some food will be paid for.
Training material for those
Value of preparation.
Collaboration in the Toadstool Project.
Models for intraplate strain
Information on Toadstool stratigraphy.
Measurement of the orientation of structures.
Information on chalcedony veins at Toadstool
Annotated bibliography for Toadstool project
Student report topics.
Some help with using ArcMap for your projects.
- Dr. Harmon D. Maher Jr.
- 402 554 4807
- Durham Science Center Rm.206