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Hi,I am teaching geology for my first time (new NGSS topic for 8th grade). I have been searching for interesting tidbits in this area (fossil and evolutionary finds, geological formations, etc). Can you point me to documents or share info that my students might find interesting? Thanks.
Question Date: 2019-04-04
Answer 1:

In haste, I attach a useful image of Santa Barbara's geology. I also encourage a look at this: infopages

Many other treasures here:
UCSB Geology
diagram here

Answer 2:

A couple of interesting bits of geology in the Santa Barbara area are the methane seeps just off the coast near Coal Oil Point and the Gaviota Wind Caves. The methane seeps are the result of deposition of sediment with lots of dead plankton 6-18 million years ago, which became oil and gas -bearing sedimentary rock. The rocks were uplifted and fractured by tectonic forces about one million years ago, which brought the oil and gas closer to the sea floor, and some of it seeps out through cracks, though about 99% of the methane is broken down by microbes before reaching the surface of the water.

In the 80's Arco put metal tents over the some of the seeps to "harvest" the methane and sometimes collected a million cubic feet of gas per day, but oil extraction reduced the pressure in the oil and gas reservoirs so not as much comes out anymore. Carpinteria also got its name from local seeps which produced tar that the Chumash used to seal canoes. When the Spanish came, they determined that the area was the Chumash's "carpentry shop" or "carpinteria". You can find a lot of information about the seeps online.

The Gaviota Wind Caves are less well documented, but they are interesting to visit if you are up for hiking, or there are nice photos online. They are in sandstone from the Oligocene just west of the 101 where it turns to the north. Their formation is not entirely certain, but it is likely that salt that gets into the air from sea spray was deposited on the rocks and grew crystals that weathered larger and larger divots into the rocks. The bigger the holes get, the more salt can be deposited in them, and the more the rock is weathered away.

Another interesting feature in southern California is the tufa at Mono Lake. This is not as close by, but they are worth noting. Mono Lake has no natural outlets. Water only leaves by evaporation, which causes the water to become concentrated in dissolved carbonate. When spring water rich in calcium flows in through the lake bed, the calcium and carbonate react to form limestone around the spot where the spring water comes in. This eventually builds up underwater tufa towers.

Starting in the 40's the city of Los Angeles began diverting water from Mono Lake's tributaries, causing the water level to fall. This caused a number of environmental problems, but it also allows us to see the tufa, which is now exposed. Environmental activists eventually won protections for the lake, so the water level is beginning to rise again.

Answer 3:

The SERC/NAGT website is an excellent resource! There's a whole section for K-12.

Also check out the "Geology Underfoot" books that are roadside guides for different regions in California, this one was written by local professors at UCSB and SBCC
click here.

Good luck!

Answer 4:

I'm attaching a Scientific American article about the idea that the origin of life happened on land, near volcanoes. It's a good article. Here's my website. It has another idea that might also be true:
Helen Hansma.

And this: Granny says life evolved between the mica sheets

And my Amazon Kindle book: "How did life start? Maybe like this"

"... This whimsical book will give you lots to think about. Illustrated with cartoons and graphics, the book aims to speak to young and old scientists and everyone else, with sound science about one of science’s big unanswered questions."

Answer 5:

This is a difficult question to answer as there are so many different things that you could go over. I'm inclined to suggest looking at UC Berkeley's online Museum of Paleontology ( here). It has a wide variety of very good online exhibits, so you could use those in a class!

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