3. Layers Upon Layers - Sources and Standards

The inspiration for this activity is the squeeze box, cleverly designed by Eric Muller of the San Francisco Exploratorium. Look under Earth Science for the Squeeze Box activity.

For more information about Nicolas Steno and stratigraphy see:

  • The book, The Seashell on the Mountaintop, by Alan Cutler, is a wonderful, easy read that chronicles the life of Nicholas Steno. He vividly describes the life and discoveries of this anatomist turned geologist turned priest.
  • A great summary of Steno’s life and work can be found on the University of California Museum of Paleontology’s website.
  • Earth Science Australia offers supremely well organized lecture notes for their geology course based on the work of Professor Stephen Nelson of Tulane University. The information about sedimentary rocks goes into wonderful detail about how to read sedimentary layers for clues about the environment where the sediments were deposited.
  • Pamela Gore of the Georgia Perimeter College has also provided a fabulous overview of the basic principles of stratigraphy.
  • Stephen J. Reynolds has created a gorgeous collection of simulated landscape images showing the sequence of events in the formation of canyons, buttes and other landforms.

Grade 6
Plate Tectonics and Earth's Structure
Plate tectonics accounts for important features of Earth's surface and major geologic events. As a basis for understanding this concept:
e     Students know major geologic events, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and mountain building, result from plate motions.
f     Students know how to explain major features of California geology (including mountains, faults, volcanoes) in terms of plate tectonics.

Shaping Earth's Surface
Topography is reshaped by the weathering of rock and soil and by the transportation and deposition of sediment. As a basis for understanding this concept:
a     Students know water running downhill is the dominant process in shaping the landscape, including California's landscape.
b     Students know rivers and streams are dynamic systems that erode, transport sediment, change course, and flood their banks in natural and recurring patterns.

Investigation and Experimentation
Scientific progress is made by asking meaningful questions and conducting careful investigations. As a basis for understanding this concept and addressing the content in the other three strands, students should develop their own questions and perform investigations. Students will:
e     Recognize whether evidence is consistent with a proposed explanation.
f     Read a topographic map and a geologic map for evidence provided on the maps and construct and interpret a simple scale map.
g     Interpret events by sequence and time from natural phenomena (e.g., the relative ages of rocks and intrusions).

Grade 7
Earth and Life History (Earth Sciences)
Evidence from rocks allows us to understand the evolution of life on Earth. As a basis for understanding this concept:
a     Students know Earth processes today are similar to those that occurred in the past and slow geologic processes have large cumulative effects over long periods of time.
c     Students know that the rock cycle includes the formation of new sediment and rocks and that rocks are often found in layers, with the oldest generally on the bottom.