MARGINS Data in the Classroom > Mini-Lessons > Mini-Lesson Collection > Testing plate tectonics in the Gulf of California

Testing plate tectonics in the Gulf of California

Paul Umhoefer
Northern Arizona University
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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 activity has gone through an observational review process.

This resources was tested in a classroom and feedback was provided using this protocol. The activity was modified in response to the feedback.


This page first made public: Apr 6, 2007

Summary

This is a simple exercise to use real-world data from recent large earthquakes so that students can test for themselves if plate tectonics "works" in the Gulf of California. The Gulf of California is fairly straightforward for most predicted behavior of an oblique-divergent plate boundary, but there are some intriguing differences between the earthquakes and what textbooks claim.

Learning Goals

Content & Concept goals: - using GeoMapApp - finding data from earthquake catalogs - plotting selective data from earthquake catalogs

Higher order thinking goals: - critique of classic textbook models - comparison of real earthquakes along a simple active plate boundary to what is predicted from textbooks - evaluation of exceptions to the classic model - evaluation of earthquakes that are substantially away from the main plate boundary - evaluation of quality of data - comparison of the location of the same earthquake from two different earthquake catalogs, and determining which location is closest to the true epicenter given the simplest interpretation

Context for Use

Audience: Introductory class in Geology of any kind that presents principles of plate tectonics

Skills and concepts that students address: Assignment can be adapted to higher level classes.

Use of Exercise in Introductory class: This exercise is designed as a homework exercise with a follow up discussion in a moderate to large introductory class. It can easily be used as part of a lab, or it can be a group exercise embedded within a lecture with follow up discussion in the same class session.

Description and Teaching Materials

Assignment handout (Microsoft Word 26kB Apr3 07)

Bathymetry map of the southern half of the Gulf of California: Download the KMZ File (KMZ File 1MB Feb20 09) or use the jpg image at right

Bathymetry map of the southern half and mouth of the Gulf of California: Download the KMZ File (KMZ File 1.9MB Feb20 09) or use the jpg image at right

Teaching Notes and Tips

Assessment

Students turn in the plot that they have annotated with the earthquake data together with their interpretation of the patterns present in the data and their answers to the questions on the Assignment handout.

References and Resources

Global Centroid Moment Tensor Catalog

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