MARGINS Data in the Classroom > Search Full Mini-Lesson Collection > What does "spatial resolution" mean? Some answers using MARGINS data.

What does "spatial resolution" mean? Some answers using MARGINS data.

Juan Baztan, Marine Sciences For Society
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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

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This page first made public: May 13, 2009


The main objective of this presentation is to understand the concept of spatial resolution by looking at the concepts of point, grid and pixel. This experience will introduce us to these concepts by using a map generated by virtual ocean of the western of the Marina Trench, a NSF-MARGINS focus area. This activity confronts students with maps ranging from lowest to highest resolution, questioning our knowledge of the world's oceans' surface, whose main part remains unknown in its details.

Learning Goals

The main goal is to start developing the capacity to understand "what are we viewing?"
How sharp is the image that we can have of the sea floor?
What does "spatial resolution" mean?

Context for Use

This material can be used as an introduction to any course using maps. Also, it might serve in philosophy as an introduction to the question "What do we know?" or in art classes as an introduction to the question of sharpness and representation.

Description and Teaching Materials

We provide a presentation with the key concepts. We use the example of the western part of the Mariana Trench, one of the most mysterious zones of the world's oceans and a MARGINS focal areas. The data comes from Expedition EW0202, which corresponds to the NSF award "US-Japan Collaborative Research: Multi-Scale Seismic Imaging of the Mariana Subduction Factory". It was directed by the investigators Brian Taylor, Patricia Fryer, Gregory Mooreand and Andrew Goodliffe.
The maps have been generated by "virtual ocean", a tool that integrates the GeoMapApp tool suite with WorldWind 3-D visualization.
Additional data and information can be downloaded from the virtual ocean web-site.
presentation with the key concepts (PowerPoint 3.6MB May19 09)

Teaching Notes and Tips


Assessment will depend on whether the activity is used as an in-class example, home-work or lab activity.

References and Resources

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