High School Lesson:  Provinces and Rock Types of Pennsylvania


Strands:

Inquiry and Design, Earth Science, Watersheds and Wetlands, Renewable and Nonrenewable Resources, Humans and the Environment, Basic Geographic Literacy, Physical Characteristics of Places and Regions, Human Characteristics of Places and Regions

Standards Statements:

3.1.10B, C, D; 3,2 .10B, C; 3.5.10A, B; 4.1.10E; 4.2.10A, C; 4.8.10B, D; 7.1.9-12.A, B; 7.2.9-12A, B; 7.3.9-12A, D.

Assessment Strategies:

Whole-class and group questioning

Worksheets with answers and explanations

Note: Estimated time: two to three 50 minute class periods

Suggested Level:

  • Grades 9 -12
     

Standards Category:

  • Science and Technology
  • Environment and Ecology
  • Geography 
     

Materials: 

For the class: 

  • Digital Shaded-Relief Map of Pennsylvania
  • Land Cover Map of Pennsylvania 
  • Football size specimens of sandstone, limestone and shale (1 or 2 each).
  • Eearth science/geology reference books or Internet access to geology sites.
     

For each team of students:

  • Geologic Map of Pennsylvania, 8.5” x 11”, PaGS Map 7 (Request from PaGS or print in color from the web site) 
  • Map 13 of Pennsylvania's physiographic provinces:
     

Map 13 Front

Map 13 Back

  • Set of colored pencils
  • Map of Pennsylvania streams and drainage basins (The Geology of Pennsylvania, page 678).
     

Instructional Strategies: 

  • Whole class
  • Cooperative groups
  • Individual and group research
     

Procedures:

Note:  Each of these questions/activities is designed to stand alone, or the instructor may choose to use them as a group.  Teacher materials and suggestions are printed in italics.

1.      This question requires students to observe features on a map and identify the five general physiographic provinces of Pennsylvania. Students begin by examining the Digital Shaded-Relief Map. You may want to describe to them how it was made.

Using a blank sheet of paper, draw an outline of Pennsylvania that is approximately 15 cm by 10 cm.  Or your teacher may give you a blank outline of the state.  Now examine the Digital Shaded-Relief Map of Pennsylvania from the northwest corner to the southeast corner.  What do you notice about the surfaces?

(a) The state can be divided into distinct surfaces or geographic regions. Try to identify and label these on your map:

  • Great Lakes Plain
  • Appalachian Plateau
  • Ridge and Valley
  • Great Valley
  • Piedmont
  • Atlantic Coastal Plain

Distribute a copy of the Pennsylvania Physiographic Provinces (Map 13) to each team now.

(b) Check your boundaries against those on the map that your instructor has for you. Make any corrections necessary, then lightly shade in the provinces with a different color for each.

2.   Students should find and be able to use the color key at the lower right corner of the map to learn something about elevations in the state.  

(a) How are elevations of the land features indicated on the Digital Shaded-Relief Map? 

(b) How can you find the highest elevations on this map?  The lowest?

(c) Using a colored pencil or a textured pattern, shade in the three specific areas that are the highest.  Do not mark the thin, high ridges of the Ridge and Valley Province.

(d) Describe where (in general) in the state these high areas are located.

(e) Describe where the lowest areas are located.  Suggest an explanation for this pattern.

3.  These questions ask students to identify patterns of mountains and valleys, and then relate that pattern to anticlinal and synclinal rock formations. On the Shaded-Relief Map locate the Ridge and Valley structures:

(a) Do you notice anything about their relationship to each other?  Explain.

(b) Describe the direction that the ridges seem to follow.

(c) The geological structures that have been eroded to form the ridge and valley are called synclines and anticlines.  Using a reference (book or internet), find an illustration of these types of rock layers.  How were they formed?

(d)  Imagine that the folded structures of sedimentary rock were originally formed as horizontal layers like the ones in the drawing below.  Now imagine that pressure was applied to these rock layers from each side (indicated by the arrows) and they folded as though they were pages of a newspaper.  Draw and label a cross section of the resulting syncline and anticline, maintaining the same sequence of sedimentary rock types.

----->__________________________________________________<------

Sandstone

----->__________________________________________________<------

Shale

----->__________________________________________________<-----

Limestone

----->___________________________________________________<-----

4.  Show your samples of sandstone, shale and limestone.  Have the students answer these questions based on their observations and some research.

(a) Which of these rocks is the most susceptible to weathering (wearing away because of exposure to wind, rain, and ice)?  Which is the least susceptible?

(b) The mountains formed by folding of sedimentary layers have been eroding for tens of millions of years.  What rock type would you expect to be typical of those that form the highest part of the ridges?  Explain your answer.

(c) What rock type would you expect to be typical of those that form the Great Valley?  Explain your answer.

(d) What is the most common land cover in the Great Valley and to the southeast?  Why do you think this is so?

Student answers should mention topography and ease of plowing on flatter fields.  They may also mention that soils derived from limestone are slightly basic and especially fertile.    

5.  This question involves identifying two major Pennsylvania watersheds.   It may be necessary to remind students that surface water flows downhill!  Allow them to check their answers against the river basin map from The Geology of Pennsylvania. Using either the Shaded-Relief Map or the Land Cover Map, have the students locate the Susquehanna and Ohio Rivers. 

(a) Where is the final destination of the waters of each of these rivers?

(b) Draw these rivers on your small map. 

(c) Locate the watersheds for each of these major rivers on one of the large maps.  Write the names of the six or seven contiguous counties, from the Maryland border to the New York border, that contain the dividing line between their watersheds.  Explain how you determined your answer.

6.  In this question you will be referring to three maps:  the Shaded-Relief Map, the Land Cover Map, and the smaller Geologic Map of Pennsylvania.  It will also be helpful to recall some facts about plate tectonics and how sedimentary rocks can give evidence of ancient environments.

(a) Suggest two reasons for the location of the High Intensity Residential area from Wilkes Barre to Scranton.  One reason will relate to the physical land surface, the other to a natural resource of the area. 

(b) The Llewellyn Formation is made of sandstone, siltstone, congomerate, and shale rocks and also contains an important natural resource.  This formation is approximately 300 million years old and from a time known as the Pennsylvanian Period.  What is this natural resource?

(c) Coal deposits formed in tropical coastal swamps 290 to 330 million years ago.  Suggest several explanations for the presence of these deposits in modern-day Pennsylvania. 

(d) What physical features do you notice to the northwest and southeast of Wilkes Barre and Scranton?  In which direction do they trend?

(e) Keeping in mind your answers to questions 4 and 6(c), make a prediction about what is the dominant rock of the ridges near Wilkes Barre and Scranton (sandstone, limestone or shale?).  Explain your answer.

(f) Make a prediction about the dominant rock of the valleys near Wilkes Barre and Scranton (sandstone, limestone or shale?).  Explain your answer.

 

Provinces and Rock Types of Pennsylvania - Student worksheet

1.         Using a blank sheet of paper or a blank outline of Pennsylvania provided by your teacher, draw an outline of Pennsylvania that is approximately 15 cm by 10 cm.    Now examine the Digital Shaded-Relief Map of Pennsylvania from the northwest corner to the southeast corner. 

(a) The state can be divided into distinct surfaces or geographic regions. Try to identify and label these on your map:

  • Great Lakes Plain
  • Appalachian Plateau
  • Ridge and Valley
  • Great Valley
  • Piedmont
  • Atlantic Coastal Plain

What do you notice about the surfaces of each of these provinces?

(b) Check your boundaries against those on the map that your instructor has for you.  Make any corrections necessary, then lightly shade in the provinces with a different color or pattern for each.

2.   (a) How are elevations of the land features indicated on the Digital Shaded-Relief Map? 

(b) How can you find the highest elevations on this map?  The lowest?

(c) Using a colored pencil or a textured pattern, shade in the three specific areas that are the highest.  Do not mark the thin, high ridges of the Ridge and Valley Province.

(d) Describe where (in general) in the state these high areas are located.

(e) Describe where (in general) the lowest areas are located.  Suggest an explanation for this pattern.

3.  On the Shaded-Relief Map locate the Ridge and Valley structures. 

(a) Do you notice anything about their relationship to each other?  Explain.

(b) Describe the direction that the ridges seem to follow.

(c) The geological structures that have been eroded to form the ridge and valley are called synclines and anticlines.  Using a reference (book or internet), find an illustration of these types of rock layers.  How were they formed?

(d) Imagine that the folded structures of sedimentary rock were originally formed as horizontal layers like the ones in the drawing below.  Now imagine that pressure was applied to these rock layers from each side (indicated by the arrows) and they folded as though they were pages of a newspaper.  Draw and label a cross section of the resulting syncline and anticline, maintaining the same sequence of sedimentary rock types.

----->__________________________________________________<------

Sandstone

----->__________________________________________________<------

Shale

----->__________________________________________________<-----

Limestone

----->___________________________________________________<-----

4.  Your teacher has samples of sandstone, shale and limestone.  Answer these questions based on your observations and some research:

(a) Which of these rocks is the moist susceptible to weathering (wearing away because of exposure to wind, rain, ice)?  Which is the least susceptible?  Why?

(b) The mountains formed by folding of sedimentary layers have been eroding for tens of millions of years.  What rock type would you expect to be typical of those that form the highest part of the ridges?  Explain your answer.

(c) What rock type would you expect to be typical of those that form the Great Valley (Shale, limestone or sandstone)?  Explain your answer.

(d) Now look at the Land Cover Map.  What is the most common land cover in the Great Valley and to the southeast?  Why do you think this is so?

5.  Using either the Shaded-Relief Map or the Land Cover Map, locate the Susquehanna and Ohio Rivers. 

(a) What is the final destination of the waters of each of these rivers?

(b) Draw these rivers on your small map.

(c) Locate the watersheds for each of these major rivers on one of the large maps.  Write the names of the six or seven contiguous counties, from the Maryland border to the New York border, that contain the dividing line between their watersheds.  Explain how you determined your answer.

6.  In this question you will be referring to three maps:  the Shaded-Relief Map, the Land Cover Map, and the smaller Geologic Map of Pennsylvania.  It will also be helpful to recall some facts about plate tectonics and how sedimentary rocks can give evidence of ancient environments.

(a) Suggest two reasons for the location of the High Intensity Residential area from Wilkes Barre to Scranton.  One reason should relate to the physical land surface, the other to a natural resource of the area. 

(b) The Llewellyn Formation is made of sandstone, siltstone, congomerate, and shale rocks and also contains an important natural resource.  This formation is approximately 300 million years old and from a time known as the Pennsylvanian Period.  What is this natural resource?

(c) Coal deposits formed in tropical coastal swamps 290 to 330 million years ago.  Suggest several explanations for the presence of these deposits in modern-day Pennsylvania. 

(d) What physical features do you notice to the northwest and southeast of Wilkes Barre and Scranton?  In which direction do they trend?

(e) Keeping in mind your answers to questions 4 and 6(c), what is the dominant rock of the ridges near Wilkes Barre and Scranton (sandstone, limestone or shale)?  Explain your answer.

(f) What is the dominant rock of the valleys near Wilkes Barre and Scranton (sandstone, limestone or shale)?  Explain your answer.