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This exercise is centered around a suite of rocks from the Sierra Nevada batholith. The activities are designed to give petrology students a capstone experience for the igneous portion of the upper-level Petrology course. Students are given thin sections with hand samples, a map and a table of geochemical analyses (in Excel format) and asked to record hand-sample and thin section observations with the idea that these will be used to understand processes that were active during batholith generation. By the time they encounter this lab, the students have spent at least 7 lab periods looking at a variety of igneous rocks and their textures. Because students are given geochemical analyses, they are also expected to experiment with the use of graphs (e.g., Harker and spider diagrams) to better understand tables of geochemical analyses. The students use observations about rocks and geochemistry to build a coherent story around these rocks; the final product is a short paper in which they use petrographic observations and geochemical diagrams to back up their interpretations.
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