Stream Geology


Contents List

Geologic Time

Students create a timeline of geologic history that will show the amount of time it takes for certain geologic processes to occur on Earth. In addition to worldwide events, focus is given to Western Pennsylvania geologic history and how it affects us today. Students will also focus on various events that influenced our waterways through time.

Flowing Streams

Students will produce a depth profile of a stream, measure flow velocity differences across the stream at various points, and correlate stream flow to depth and substrate sediment size.  Flowing Streams Data Sheets

I Live To Sieve

Using sieve sets, students will investigate stream substrate, classifying the rocks and sediments into size classifications. Comparisons of substrate collected from various places in the stream will also be made. Click here for tables, figures and data sheet. Click here for Worksheet.

Pebble Count Substrate Study

Students will use a pebble count procedure to determine the average substrate size of a waterway. This method involves entering the stream, selecting random pieces of substrate (clay/silt all the way up to a rock), and measuring the substrate size.

Settling Sediments

Students will investigate how sediments are deposited in different types of waterways or locations within the same waterway using sedimentation bottles that they make or that are pre-made. Students will review sediment sizes and types and make connections between deposition and the formation of certain types of rocks.

Interpreting River Sediments

Students will investigate various sediment samples from a watershed for a metal pollutant using a simple chemistry test. They will interpret the results and use a map to try to determine the source of the pollutant and why it is found in some of the sediments of the watershed.

Creek Rocks

Students collect rocks from a creek bed and identify them using classroom resources, their textbooks, or rock identification guides. Students then summarize their findings to include types of rocks found, origins of the rocks, and how the rocks got into the creek.

Stream Movement

Students will watch a scripted presentation and complete worksheet as they watch. The presentation is about stream drainage, stream movement, channels, erosion, sediment transport, sedimentation, and deposition. Presentation in Google Slides found here. Presentation as pdf here.

Stream Table – Waterways on the Move

A stream table will be used to demonstrate stream drainage, stream movement, stream maturation, channels, meandering, force of water, erosion, sediment transport, deposition and other topics. Stream table set up instructions here.

Module Resource Guide Information

Textbook Sections: Different textbook selections about “Running Water”, “Streams and Floods: The Geology of Running Water”, “Physical Geography: Earth’s Systems and Human Interactions”, and “Draining the Land”.

Rock Identification: Two articles of information that discuss the different types of rocks that are located in the Pennsylvania area.

Geologic Maps: Various colorful maps that show the geology of Pennsylvania.

Geologic History: Fact sheets that contain information about the geological history of Pennsylvania and its major waterways.

Other Stream Geology Topics: More interesting topics, such as “How Do Sediments Shape Stream?”, “River Sediments Mystery”, “Stream Channel Shapes”, “Various Sediment Size Classifications”, “Stream Diagrams”, and “The Field Guide to Geology”.

Stream Table Information: The Stream Table provides a means of exploring and discovering geologic principles and processes. The Laboratory Manual outlines numerous investigations relating to stream processes, coastal features, glaciation, and structural processes.


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