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Plate Tectonics Activities


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Testing the Fixed-hotspot-moving-plate model
Sara Harris, University of British Columbia
Students examine hot spot tracks, magnetic inclination data, and coral data from the Hawaii-Emperor Seamount Chain to test the hypothesis that hotspots are fixed. Most students have learned somewhere that hotspots ...

Distribution of Active Volcanoes Exercise
Rebecca Teed, Wright State University-Main Campus
In this series of inquiry-based exercises about volcanoes and plate tectonics, students will collect, plot, and interpret data and finish with a role-playing activity and a virtual field trip. -

Exploring the Bay Area
Carla Grandy, Skyline College
This assignment is a do-it-yourself field trip. Students are given the opportunity to visit a local geologic feature and learn something about the origins and evolution of that site.

Emergent Models in Google Earth
Declan De Paor, Old Dominion University
This is one sample of a set of emergent models we are developing for use with Google Earth. Students use the Google Earth time-slider to lift 3D models of the subsurface into view. They can substitute their own ...

Profiling Earth's Surface using GeoMapApp
Laura Wetzel, Eckerd College
In this exercise, students relate large-scale features on Earth's surface to lithospheric plates, the underlying asthenosphere, earthquakes, and volcanoes. After creating a cross section showing elevation using GeoMapApp, students add additional features by hand.

Naming Igneous Rocks
Dexter Perkins, University of North Dakota-Main Campus
This project is intended to introduce students to the IUGS rock classification scheme. Samples come from the Wards Collections (which many schools have). Students are provided with both hand specimens and thin ...

Mapping Plate Tectonic Boundaries
Michael Kerwin, University of Denver
This activity asks students to explore a National Geographic map showing Earth's plate tectonic boundaries. The exercise lets the students examine relationships between plate tectonic boundaries and geologic ...

Where is that chunk of crust going?
Vince Cronin, Baylor University
I introduce students to GPS, frames of reference, and the permanent GPS stations in the EarthScope Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO) in class, and obtain near-real-time data for two stations from UNAVCO. We use ...

Unit 5 Hazards and Risks at Convergent Plate Boundaries (Day 1 of activity)
Rachel Teasdale, California State University-Chico; Peter Selkin, University of Washington-Tacoma Campus; Laurel Goodell, Princeton University
In this two-day activity, students monitor an evolving volcanic crisis at a convergent plate boundary (Cascadia). Using monitoring data and geologic hazard maps, students make a series of forecasts for the ...

Magma Viscosity Demos
Barry Bickmore, Brigham Young University
This is an interactive lecture where students answer questions about demonstrations shown in several movie files. They learn to connect what they have learned about molecules, phases of matter, silicate crystal structures, and igneous rock classification with magma viscosity, and to connect magma viscosity with volcano explosiveness and morphology.


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