Interpreting Paleoenvironments

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Resource Type:Classroom Activities; Curricula and Instruction
Grade Level:
9 10 11 12
Organization:University of California Museum of Paleontology (UCMP)
Summary:One of the basic tenets of geology is the present is the key to the past . In the present context this simply means that if we document the distribution of organisms today, and have some degree of understanding of what combination of environmental variables controls those distributions, then we can use this information to reconstruct past environments by using the fossilized representatives of the modern organisms as paleoenvironmental indicators. This classic use of microfossils, along with biostratigraphy, is of great significance in the search for oil and gas. This activity will help students to have a better understanding of how scientists can use foraminifera to interpret past environments. Specifically, the students will have the opportunity to understand one of the basic tenets of geology the present is the key to the past , a principle otherwise known as uniformitarianism.
Earth Science Big Ideas:Big Idea 2; Big Idea 3; Big Idea 6
NGSS Discplinary Core Ideas:ESS3.B
NGSS Performance Expectations:HS-ESS3-1
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts:Cause and effect: Mechanism and explanation
Subjects: fossil; geology; paleontology
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