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Cutting Edge > Geodesy > Teaching Activities > HMK 1_Plate Boundaries: Present, future, & past

HMK 1_Plate Boundaries: Present, future, & past

Brian Hampton
,
Michigan State University

This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process.

This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.


This page first made public: Nov 18, 2011

Summary

This project builds on in-class exercises and lectures by having students learn to identify modern, future, and past plate boundaries. Students will use trends in topography, distribution of earth quake and volcanoes, as well as hot spot age data, and GPS data to characterize modern and future plate boundaries. There are three parts to this exercise that include modern, future, and past plate boundary examples.

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Context

Audience

This exercise is for intro-level geology majors and can also be applied for intro-level non-majors. I use this exercise in my ISP-203 non-majors course as a take-home homework assignment.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students need to have been exposed to recognizing trends in topography/bathymetry related to plate boundaries will have had some background in concepts of sea floor spreading, hot spot age trends and volcanism/earthquake trends at plate boundaries. All students will need to have been exposed to each type of plate boundary.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is a stand-alone homework assignment that complements topics that have been discussed in class activities and lectures.

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

The goals of this activity are to give students firsthand experience with using topography/bathymetry, age data, and GPS data to locate active plate boundaries. I want them to see that they do not necessarily need plate boundary maps to recognize plate boundaries. Instead, many plate boundaries can also be located by identifying trends in topography, volcanism, and seismicity. As they work through this exercise, I would also like for them to see that difficulty arises when trying to reconstruct future and past plate boundary conditions.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Using age data and GPS data to locate active plate boundaries. I want them to see that they do not necessarily need plate boundary maps to recognize plate boundaries. Instead, many plate boundaries can also be located by identifying trends in topography, volcanism, and seismicity. As they work through this exercise, I would also like for them to see that difficulty arises when trying to reconstruct future and past plate boundary conditions.

Other skills goals for this activity

Each of the problem sets consist of short-answer format questions and contain a small component of scientific writing and short synthesis, which will be assessed.

Description of the activity/assignment

Prior to this homework assignment, students will have been exposed (for ~2-3 in class activities and lectures) to general concepts in plate tectonics, plate boundaries, hot spot volcanoes, use of earthquake/volcano trends at plate boundaries, as well as GPS as a modern use to document plate motion. Students receive this activity as a homework assignment to be completed outside of class. Their task is to use provided topographic/bathymetric data, earthquake and volcano distribution, GPS data, as well as ocean floor and hot spot age trends to characterize plate motion in modern, future, and ancient plate boundaries. This is a three-part exercise that involves a modern plate boundary study form the eastern margin of the Pacific plate, a potential future plate boundary in eastern Africa, and a identification of possible ancient plate boundaries in the Eurasian plate.

Determining whether students have met the goals

For each part of this homework assignment there are a series of 2-3 short-answer questions that will be used to assess the whether the students have met the goals of the exercise.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

Attached is a PowerPoint file with imagery and datasets that will be used to address question in the exercise. I would like to update this homework assignment at some point with Google earth files/imagery.

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