This paper serves as an alternative assignment to attending the Owens Valley Field Trip.
Throughout this course you’ve learned about a lot of different processes and phenomena. You have also been taught to “think geographically”. Geographers are interested in two basic questions: where are why? For this paper you will use critical thinking and perform in-depth research to analyze the physical geography of a specific location on Earth.
STEP 1 – Select a natural, physical area/feature on Earth to research. This may be a location you have or haven’t visited before and/or something you are interested in learning more about. These must be related to physical geography. The scale of the features is up to you. Examples include: an entire country, a specific feature such as a mountain or mountain range, a plate boundary, an aquifer, a valley, a volcano, a river, a lake, sand dunes, rocks, a forest etc. National and state parks are excellent options since a lot of information will be available. Your instructor and the textbook are excellent resources if you are struggling to pick features/locations. The location/topic of your paper must be approved by your instructor by Friday, March 24th.
Here are some examples of features/locations students have used in the past:
Mountain or mountain range (such as the Sierra Nevada, Mt. Whitney, the Himalayas, etc.) • Plate boundary (such as the San Andreas Fault, the Great East African Rift Valley, etc.) • Aquifer (such as the Central Valley Aquifer in California) • Volcano (such as Mt. Saint Helens, Mt. Kilauea, Yellowstone, etc.) • River (such as the Colorado River, Mississippi River, Russian River, etc.) • Lake (such as Lake Tahoe, Lake Baikal, the Salton Sea, Lake Merritt, etc.) • Rocks (a former student did a great project on Yosemite granite) • Forest (someone last semester did a great project on the Petrified Forest in Sonoma County, you could do a project on the Amazon Rainforest, Coastal Redwoods, etc.) • Coral Reef (such as the Great Barrier Reef) • Karst Topography (a former student did an excellent project on sinkholes in Mexico) • Hurricane (a former student did a great project on Hurricane Katrina. Students have also done really interesting projects on specific tornadoes and “tornado alley”)
Note: the list above is not a complete list, just some examples to help you get started. You can research any feature/location, as long as it is related to physical geography. Be sure to avoid cultural features, such as cities, museums, etc. Needless to say, it will be difficult to explain the physical geography of cultural features. If you are unsure whether or not a feature/location you’ve chose qualifies, feel free to send me an email.
STEP 2 – Research your physical areas/features.
STEP 3 – Write an 8-10 page paper – typed, double-spaced, 12-point font, with heading. Please include a title, your name, date, and the course title GEOG 1L. This paper need to answer geography’s two basic question
1. Where?: Provide an introductory description of your feature. Be sure to provide its location. You must include both the absolute (longitude and latitude) and relative (bordering countries, landmarks, etc.) locations of you feature. (Should be about 2-3 pages)
2. Why?: This question is going to be the bulk of your paper. Based on what you have learned in this course, explain why your feature is located where it is. In other words, what processes or mechanisms have occurred to form this feature? Is this feature unique to this one specific location? Why or why not? Supplementary questions can be addressed as well, such as, how have human beings impacted or affected this physical feature? (Should be anywhere from 6-7 pages)
3. Include at least one images and/or diagrams of the features/areas. This will aide in your description of the feature as well as your discussion of why. You may include as many images/diagrams as you wish. You must also include one map of the area/region. Note: these are separate and do not count towards the 2-3 pages.
4. Lastly, you need to include a Works Cited page with all of your sources. You should have at least four sources. The Works Cited is also separate and does not count towards the 8- 10 pages. Works Cited page should be in MLA format.
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