Course Paper


Each student will be assigned one of three preselected areas (each a different National Park) that they will study and report on in the form of a term research paper. At a minimum the paper will provide a detailed overview of the geologic history of the area including the rock formations, structures and geomorphic features present. The character, age and origin of the rock formations, structures and surface geology/physiography should be discussed highlighting important events in the history of the area while placing them in a broader geologic context of the region.  Lastly, a section of the paper (or sections) must be included that compares/contrasts the geology/geologic history of the assigned region to the geology/geologic history of Florida. 

The paper should be written to an audience with knowledge of the geosciences, in general, but no knowledge of the specific study area and issues you report on. As such you can (and should) use common geoscientific terminology in your writing without need to define common terms, but when treating a specific topic or issue (e.g., past geologic settings, etc.) providing some brief background context is appropriate.  Some guiding questions that papers should address include:

  • What are the main geologic features (rocks, structures, sediments, landforms) in this area?
  • What geologic events were important in shaping the geologic history of this area?
  • How do geologic features (rock units, geologic structures, geomorphic features etc.) in the study /general region that preserve information of those events? (Data constraining time/ environment of formation for rock units and structures, changes in fossil assemblages, etc.)?
  • How do these events fit into global geology of the time (tectonics, climate, sea-level, biodiversity, etc.)?
  • How does this geology and geologic history compare to (or relate to) that of Florida?

Paper Guidelines

The paper should be at least 4 pages in length (not including figures or references) and use 1” margins, 12 point font and 1.5X spacing (Calibri, Courier, Times New Roman and Arial fonts are acceptable). The paper must begin with an abstract and end with a conclusion. Use of headings and subheadings is encouraged and should be used and numbered in a consistent, logical fashion (e.g. 1.1, 1.2). Papers must include at a minimum a geologic map and a physiographic map (e.g. topo map) of the area. All figures used should be relevant and referenced within the paper text and include captions. Figures should be embedded in the paper as close to their first reference in the text as is practical.

Students will submit an initial draft which will go through a round of peer review by other students participating in the course. Initial draft sections should be “complete” including figures and references and be relatively free of typos and significant grammatical errors. Half of the points for the submission of the initial draft will be awarded if the paper is submitted on time. The other half of the points will be awarded as the five criteria outlined in the rubric are assessed.

Citation and Referencing

Citations should be in-line in the text using the format (Name, Year). An alphabetical reference list must be included at the end and follow the formatting guidelines at: A minimum of 5 credible cited resources must be used.

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