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Lab 1: the students begin by describing on a worksheet their own ideas of delta formation using concept sketches and written descriptions of the stages of formation, with only broad guidance from the instructor. They are also asked to describe the key features of their concept sketches, and to hypothesize how those features might develop (the processes). The students have all been exposed to deltas in Physical Geology, but likely only have rudimentary knowledge of them. Once they have completed the worksheet, the entire class moves to a lab with a stream table in it, preset to run a "model delta." The model has both a web cam and a time-lapse web cam set up over the table to record the development. The students help start the water flowing and the cameras recording, then watch as it develops over the next 2-3 days. Lab 2: In the second lab, we use grain-size analysis of the stream-table delta as a means of testing some of their ideas from lab 1. The students as a class develop a strategy to sample the stream-table delta for grain size, using a laser grain-size analyzer. Each pair of students collect one sample, but are also asked to predict the changes in grain size distribution for samples elsewhere in the delta. The particle size analyzer rapidly provides results to the students near the end of lab. Lab 3: the final lab is a field trip to a pair of gravel pits that expose the guts of two natural stranded deltas, including topset and foreset beds. The students are asked to assess the landforms on a topo map before arriving, and to describe the deposits at each site we visit. On the final writeup, the students need to synthesize all the elements of the three labs, along with input from our readings in the textbook (Easterbrook) and McPhee's "Control of Nature."Â
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