Paradox Basin

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Field Location: Paradox Basin and Core (click on link to see photos).
Geologic Feature: Cyclic sedimentation in Pennsylvanian rocks.
Necessary Background Information: Milankovitch cycles, glacial-interglacial episodes, sea-level change, cyclic climate change in the tropics resulting from glacial-interglacial cycles at high latitudes.  Petroleum source rocks, traps and seals. 
Geologic Problem: What is the composition of the rocks in the core, and how were they deposited?
Rock Units Exposed: Pennsylvanian Paradox Formation
Skills: Incorporate published data with field data.  Formulate hypotheses (e.g., what cycles are present in the rock, and what do they represent).
Other Questions to Consider: 1) Do the different types of rock exposed in the core represent different depositional environments?  What types?  2) What was the climate like in southeastern Utah at the time of deposition of the Paradox Formation?  3) Why was it like that?  4) What is the probable source of the shales present in the core?  Do the shales represent relatively dry or relatively wet conditions during deposition?  5) Why are they black?  6) How would global warming effect high-latitude glaciers and ice caps?  7) What would this do to sea level?  8) What would be the likely effect of global warming on tropical climates?  9) Would a change in the climate of the tropics significantly effect man's ability to feed the world's population?  10) How much saltwater must have evaporated to produce the observed amount of salt?  How did so much salt accumulate in one place?
Anticipated Outcomes: Ability to develop hypotheses based on data collected in the field and from the literature.  Understanding of the effect of glacial/interglacial cyclicity on sea level, climate, and effects of sea-level and climate change on sedimentation.