The missing bedrock of Wikipedia’s geology coverage

The Catoctin Formation is a geological formation that extends from Virgina, through Maryland, to Pennsylvania. This ancient rock formation, which dates to the Precambrian, is mostly buried deeply under more recent geological deposits, but is exposed in part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. And until a student in Sarah Carmichael’s Petrology and Petrography expanded it this Spring, Wikipedia’s article about the Catoctin Formation was only two sentences long. Now, thanks to this student editor, Wikipedia has a readable, informative, and well-illustrated article that’s almost 2,000 words long.

Despite having almost 6.4 million articles, there are still plenty of topics that are missing from Wikipedia. But it still surprises me when an entire class finds a lane as empty as this one did. In addition to working on two stubs, students in the class created 15 new articles.

The Roosevelt Gabbros is an intrusive igneous rock formation in southwestern Oklahoma. A gabbro is a magnesium and iron-rich rock formed by the cooling of magma. The Roosevelt Gabbros are named after the town of Roosevelt in Kiowa County, Oklahoma, and are one of the geologic formations that make up the Wichita Mountains. Other new articles created by the class include Red Hill Syenite, an igneous rock complex in central New Hampshire, the Ashe Metamorphic Suite in Ashe County, North Carolina and the Central Montana Alkalic Province, a geological province occupying much of the middle third of the state of Montana.

Content related to geology and mineralogy on Wikipedia is underdeveloped. From individual minerals to a 600,000 km2 geological basin, student editors in past classes have been able to create new articles about broad, substantive topics. And where articles exist, a lot of them are stubs.

Wiki Education’s Wikipedia Student Program offers instructors in geology and mineralogy — and other subjects — the opportunity to fill these content gaps by empowering students to contribute content as a class assignment. For more information, visit

Image credit: Alex Speer, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


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