Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Art and Geology: A Revised Rock Cycle for Class

Thinking about art and geology, one of the ways I most often use art and design is in the creation of diagrams and sketches for my students to organize information.

Based on Andrew Alden's suggestions, I revised the rock cycle diagram I use in my intro geology lectures. I included a few extra graphic elements to imply some of the physical appearance or fabric of the rocks themselves:
I haven't labeled the arrows (processes), but that's in part because I want my students to be able to connect the term with the specific idea. They'll get this sketch as a reference, but it's up to them to build in the added context.

My metamorphic rock icon looks like bacon... mmm, bacon.

I've also been working on making easy-to reproduce, simplified representations of tectonic boundaries. Real tectonic plate boundaries are very complex places, with lots of things going on. And at scale, they don't look like much, so I tend to hyper-exaggerate the proportions to make the interpretations easier.
It's still a work in progress and they're only intended to show relative motion between the plates. Concepts like flux melting along a subduction zone or normal/reverse faulting along convergent boundaries are material for other, more detailed sketches.


  1. I object to your dashed arrow. Sediment cannot go directly to metamorphic rock. Metamorphic rocks are by definition changed from some other rock in the solid state. Turning sediments into rocks is diagenesis and can only result in sedimentary rocks.

  2. @ron I see your point, which is why it was dashed in the first place - I was thinking of lava flows covering soil/sediment, but your description requires a trip past sedimentary rock first, so I'll just get rid of the dashed arrow completely.