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EDC: Earth Science, Revised

EDC: The Rock Cycle, Revised | Unit 5

EDC: The Rock Cycle, Revised | Unit 5

5-7 weeks

Chapter 13 Mississippi Blues: Sedimentary Processes in a Delta

Students investigate the ways in which river deltas build new land, reading about the plight of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Students explore the role the river played in forming the land in Louisiana and why the land beneath New Orleans is sinking now. They think about what can and should be done to keep this city from drowning in the future.

Chapter 14 A Solid Foundation: Building the Earth’s Crust

Students read about James Hutton, known as the father of geology. They study samples of the rocks and minerals that make up the crust, and learn how to recognize clues that tell them true stories about Earth’s history.

Content in EDC: The Rock Cycle, Revised | Unit 5 is organized into activities, as follows:

Activity Title Activity Overview
What's the Story?. Flooding the Big Easy Students read about the flooding of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and learn that much of the land is below sea level and is sinking. They consider the changes to New Orleans and the delta to its south, and consider what could be causing the land to sink.
Activity 1. Modeling River Deposits Students make a sediment column that shows how sediment carried by river water settles and is sorted when water slows down.
Reading. How Do Rivers Build Land? Students learn about how rivers erode sediment from their drainage basins, transport it, deposit it at the river mouths, and build land. They consider how changes in the speed of water affect the amount and type of sediment it can carry.
Activity 2. Modeling a River Delta Students use a mini stream table model to observe the movement of sediment by a river and the formation of a delta. They then relate their observations of erosion and deposition to actual rivers.
Activity 3. What Does a Real Delta Look Like? Students examine satellite images of deltas around the world, investigating how differences in sediment load and the movement of river and ocean water affect the way in which rivers build land. They study a satellite image that shows parts of the entire drainage basin of the Ganges River, from its upper course in the Himalayas to its delta in the Bay of Bengal.
Reading. Layer by Layer Students read about how rivers build land over long periods of time and examine evidence that the Mississippi River has naturally switched paths many times in the past.
Activity 4. A View Beneath the Surface Students construct stratigraphic columns based on actual soilboring data from along one of the canals that breached during Hurricane Katrina. They then use the stratigraphic columns to create a cross section showing the layers that were deposited beneath this area of New Orleans over the past few thousand years and interpret the environments that must have existed there in the past.
Reading. Why Is the Mississippi Delta Region Sinking Students read about how sediments carried to the mouth of the Mississippi River over millions of years piled up to great thicknesses and built land into the Gulf of Mexico.
Activity 5. Settling Sediments Students investigate natural processes that account for the subsidence of New Orleans. They use moist sand to model the process of compaction and examine sedimentary rocks.
Reading. Have People Played a Role in the Subsidence of New Orleans? Students consider human interventions in river processes that may contribute to the subsidence of New Orleans. They read about the creation of dams, channels, and levees, and the diminishing amounts of sediment reaching the Mississippi Delta.
Address the Challenge. Write an Essay Students address the challenge by writing a five-paragraph paper explaining to the people of New Orleans why the land is sinking and include recommendations about the rebuilding of the city.
Final Reading. Dynamic Rivers and Changing Landscapes This reading summarizes the main concepts of this chapter.
Career Spotlight. Hydrologic Engineer
What's the Story?. A Curious Mind Students read about James Hutton, a man who spent many hours observing the crust around his farm in Scotland. The ideas he developed from his investigations have profoundly changed people’s views of Earth’s history.
Tasked. Investigating Samples of the Crust Students make their own observations of Earth’s crust by collecting and studying samples, and reviewing photographs from around the world. They develop questions about Earth’s crust based on their observations.
Reading. Elements of Earth’s Crust Students learn about the elements composing Earth’s crust and about how differences in composition cause oceanic crust to be denser than continental crust.
Activity 1. Can Rocks Really Have Different Densities? Students design and perform measurements to prove that rocks can have different densities.
Reading. Minerals—the Building Blocks of Earth’s Crust Students read about minerals, the building blocks of Earth’s crust. They practice recognizing what is and is not a mineral
Activity 2. Identifying Minerals by Their Physical Characteristics Students develop their scientific skills by identifying mineral samples by the samples’ physical characteristics
Activity 3. Clues in Rock-Forming Processes Students study rock samples and learn how the locations where the rocks are found provide clues to Earth’s history.
Address the Challenge. Write geologic history based on outcrop photos Students study images of rock outcroppings from two locations and use their knowledge of rock-forming processes to write the story that these images tell.
Reading (Extend). Piecing Together Earth’s History Students learn about how clues in rock layers are used to determine the relative and absolute age of rocks.
Activity 4 (Extend). Timeline of Major Events in Earth History Students test their knowledge of Earth’s history by constructing a timeline of major events.
Final Reading. A Solid Foundation This reading summarizes the main concepts of this chapter.

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