This activity focuses on reconstructing the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) as an example of a relatively abrupt global warming period. Students access Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) sediment core data with Virtual Ocean software in order to display relevant marine sediments and their biostratigraphy.
Learning Goals developed by the lead authors
After completing this chapter, students will be able to:
- use Virtual Ocean as a geospatial tool for locating ocean sediment cores;
- generate and interpret visualizations for age appropriate sediments and plate boundaries;
- download specific foraminifera data from CHRONOS data portal and upload into Virtual Ocean; and
- hypothesize about the ideal method for identifying locations that contain evidence of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM).
ACTIVITY DESCRIPTION AND TEACHING MATERIALS
Explore >> Climate History from Deep Sea Sediments
TEACHING NOTES / CONTEXT FOR USE
Teaching Tips (developed by CLEAN)
- Pairings of students suggested - each pair with a computer.
- Might be useful to precede activity with student investigation of the PETM and its significance climatologically.
- A wrap-up discussion about what students learned and how to relate these lessons to the current discussion of global warming is necessary.
- Ideally educators develop the inquiry questions together with students after an introduction to the tool.
About the Science
- This detailed activity examines a period of abrupt climate change (Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum or PETM) using data from a variety of sources - International Ocean Drilling Project and CHRONOS data portal - with Virtual Ocean Software.
- Focus is on impact of this period on biota, linking paleoclimatic events to current projections for climate change impacts.
- Students work with real data and get great insight into the work scientists do.
- Comments from expert scientist: Addresses process of science - how we know what we know.
- Includes concise and accurate information about observations and interpretation of the PETM. Links the PETM to present climate change by analogy.
- Places the search for information about the PETM in the larger plate tectonics context.
About the Pedagogy
- Activity is carefully designed to lead users through multiple steps of downloading software and data, manipulating data, and using both to answer questions about the PETM.
- Support is provided throughout activity via show/hide options.
- Assessment for this activity is spread throughout.
- Instructions are well-written but complex.
Technical Details/Ease of Use
- Requires computer, Internet access, and ability to download Virtual Ocean software.
Assessment strategies developed by the lead authors:
The following questions can be used to elicit students' pre-existing understandings before the activity.
- How deep do you think the ocean is?
- What is an ocean sediment core?
- How do you think experts in oceanography know about the seafloor?
- What are planktonic foraminifera? Where do they live?
- What is the PETM and why is it an important event in Earth's climate history?
The chapter ends with students searching for other ocean cores that contain key PETM foraminifera. Students should be encouraged to focus on a particular core and report on the core's characteristics including:
- Shear strength
- Sediment type
REFERENCES AND RESOURCES
References and Resources developed by lead authors:
Ridge 2000 Program: Exploring the links between Planetary Renewal and Life in the Deep Ocean, R2K—http://www.ridge2000.org/
Data Acquisition, Processing, Interpretation, and Archiving—USGS Sea Floor Mapping Site—http://woodshole.er.usgs.gov/operations/sfmapping/
NOAA Ocean Explorer—http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/
Short description developed by lead authors: This chapter focuses on reconstructing the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), which occurred between 50 to 60 million years ago. The PETM provides scientists with a glimpse of the effect of a relatively abrupt—geologically speaking—global warming. Data about this event, obtained from oceanic sediment cores, is particularly clear and useful in determining climate history.