What Kind of Continental Margin am I? Active or Passive?
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 a workshop review process.
This resource was reviewed as part of the May 2009 MARGINS Mini-Lesson Workshop. Each activity received verbal feedback from two participants who had reviewed the activity and activity sheet using these guidelines. Authors revised the activities and activity sheets in response to these comments during the workshop.
This page first made public: May 28, 2009
- Utilize earthquake data to locate subducting slabs
- Examine topographic data to determine volcanic arc locations relative to trenches
- Integrate earthquake, volcano, and topographic data to distinguish between passive and active margins
- Introduce GeoMapApp, an easy-to-use mapping program focused on marine geology and geophysics
Context for Use
Description and Teaching Materials
Student Handout for Continental Margin Exercise, WORD Version (Microsoft Word 166kB May29 09)
Student Handout for Continental Margin Exercise, PDF Version (Acrobat (PDF) 1.1MB May29 09)
Teaching Notes and Tips
–Students will typically take less than an hour to complete this exercise.
–The exercise may be completed as homework or as a supervised in class or lab activity.
–Suggest to students that they attempt to download GeoMapApp well before the assignment is due. It should download without any trouble, but, as with any program, there can be glitches.
–One strategy is for the instructor to demonstrate GeoMapApp in class. Students may start the exercise in class, thereby decreasing the fear-factor associated with learning new software.
–Volcanic arcs ARE NOT located at the trench but are typically on the order of 100s of km away from the trench on the overriding plate as shown by topographic profiles.
–Subducting slabs DO NOT stop just below the overriding lithosphere but typically extend deep into the asthenosphere as shown by earthquake locations and depths.
–Continental margins ARE NOT all active, corresponding to plate boundaries.
–GeoMapApp has many interesting features. This exercise is meant, in large part, to introduce students to the software. There may be additional assignments where students will find it useful.
–After completing this exercise, consider using other MARGINS Mini-Lessons that use GeoMapApp:
- Profiling Earth's Surface using GeoMapApp, wherein students relate large-scale features on Earth's surface to lithospheric plates, the underlying asthenosphere, plate boundaries, earthquakes, and volcanoes http://serc.carleton.edu/margins/minilessons/17593.html.
- Margin Morphology: Does Form Follow Function?which focuses on continental margin morphology and earthquakes http://serc.carleton.edu/margins/minilessons/32510.html.
- Sediment Production and Distribution Across the Margins which explores erosion in large river basins and delta formation http://serc.carleton.edu/margins/minilessons/32033.html.
- volcanic arc locations relative to trenches
- subducting slabs extend into the asthenosphere and host deep earthquakes
- passive continental margins coincide with plate boundaries and host earthquakes ± volcanoes
- active continental margins have a continental shelf and lack earthquakes and volcanoes