Course Design > Course Goals/Syllabus Database > Plate Tectonics and Tectonic Hazards

Plate Tectonics and Tectonic Hazards

Author Profile
John Creasy

Bates College
Private four-year institution, primarily undergraduate


This is a topical course covering plate tectonics and associated hazards such as eartquakes, volcanic activity, and secondary hazards such as tsunami, landslides, etc. A companion topical course covers surficial processes and global change. together these two courses cover most topics found in a physical geology course.

Course URL:
Subject: Geoscience, Geology:Tectonics, Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology:Igneous Associations and Tectonic Settings, Geoscience:Geology, Geology:Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology:Volcanology
Resource Type: Course Information:Goals/Syllabi
Special Interest: Hazards
Grade Level: College Lower (13-14)
Ready for Use: Course Goals Only
Theme: Teach the Earth:Teaching Topics:Plate Tectonics, Teach the Earth:Incorporating Societal Issues:Hazards, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Petrology
Course Type: Entry Level:Earth Science
Topics: Solid Earth:Petrology:Igneous Associations and Tectonic Settings, Volcanology
Course Size:


Course Context:

This is an entry-level geology course that servess as a general education course (90% of students) and as a gateway course to the geology major (10% of students). The course has a required weekly three hour laboratory.

Course Goals:

Students should be able to synthesize the modern plate tectonic setting of any locale using earthquakes, volcanic activity and physiography or tectonic and geologic maps.

Students should be able to assess the tectonic hazards facing the population of any major global city.

Students should be able to critique the representation of tectonic hazards in the popular media.

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

The course is organized around various plate boundaries, beginning with simple transform boundary and ending with continental collisional boundary. Course activities and class room interactions develop content and context for each boundary. The content/activities address the geologic and tectonic processes relevent to each boundary, the hazards and risks associated with each boundary. Real world data and specific examples are used to frame the general process concepts

Skills Goals

working in groups
quantitative abilities

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Students engage in group learning settings such as jigsaw activities, gallery walk, and online discussion. Most of the activities incorporate use, analysis, or computations using quantitative data. Concept diagrams and discussion of videos are also used.


exams and quizzes, classroom response systems, grading rubrics for homework assignments, group activities and written responses, including laboratory activities.

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