Geologic Provinces of the U.S.

In conjunction with the U.S. Geological Survey

Mary Leech
David Howell
Anne Egger


The Geologic Provinces of the U.S. exercise was developed as a guided inquiry exercise to help teach the geology of the U.S. Using the provided maps, groups of 3 to 6 students are asked to identify between 8 and 12 geologic provinces based on topography, the age of rocks, and the rock types. This exercise is intended for one of the first class meetings of the quarter or semester - ideally students will approach this exercise without much or any prior knowledge of the geology of the United States. Through this exercise, students will: (1) become familiar/comfortable with reading maps and legends; (2) learn basic rock types and how geologic time is divided; (3) define geologic provinces that will form an outline for learning the geology of the U.S.; and (4) be able to discuss the maps they create based on what they've learned.

Download the full Journal of Geoscience Education article describing this exercise.


The Geologic Provinces of the U.S. exercise was designed for use in a 2-hour upper division general education class Geology of the National Parks. Modifications can easily be made to adapt this exercise for use at the middle or high school levels and for adult or teacher education.



REQUIRED MATERIALS (additional links and instructions for downloading)

ADDITIONAL "PUZZLE PIECES" (not available on the Tapestry web site)


Many thanks to Kate Barton (U.S.G.S.) for help preparing several digital maps. This exercise is based on a similar exercise for learning the geology of California developed by Anne Egger (in review with the Journal of Geoscience Education) and a very successful jigsaw exercise called Discovering Plate Boundaries which was designed by Dale Sawyer at Rice University.

Click here to download Adobe Acrobat Reader

** Updated 29 April 2003 **

For additional information or questions, contact Mary Leech at leech "at"