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Plate Tectonics Activities


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Investigating Plate Tectonics with Google Earth
Beth Pratt-Sitaula, UNAVCO
Students examine data sets of topography, bathymetry, volcano location, earthquake location and size, and ocean floor age in Google Earth to determine the location and attributes of different types of plate ...

Introduction to Plate Tectonics
Elizabeth Cochran, University of California-Riverside
Uses maps created in Google Earth to explore concepts of plate tectonics including locations of plate boundaries, age of the sea floor, and distribution of earthquakes

Plate Tectonics as Expressed in Geological Landforms and Events
Jeff Ryan
This activity seeks to have students analyze global data sets on earthquake and volcano distributions toward identifying major plate boundary types in different regions on the Earth. A secondary objective is to familiarize students with two publicly available resources for viewing and manipulating geologically-relevant geospatial data: Google Earth(TM) and GeoMapApp.

Igneous Rock Compositions and Plate Tectonics
Allen Glazner, Department of Geological Sciences, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC Kent Ratajeski, Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, ...

GEO-Logic: Continental Drift and Plate Tectonics
Laura Guertin, Penn State Brandywine
Students are asked to match up lecturers with what day and time they teach, and how many students they have based on clues given from several different perspectives. In the second part of the activity, students are asked to learn more about the historic figures mentioned in the activity by doing reading and web research.

Exploring Evidence of Plate Tectonics Using GeoMapApp
Sean Cornell, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania
This activity requires students to explore a range of datasets that help substantiate Plate Tectonic Theory. Students investigate plate tectonic environments (convergent, divergent, transform boundaries), topography/bathymetry of continents and ocean basins, the distribution and pattern of earthquakes, the distribution of volcanoes, as well as ages of the sea-floor, and more.

Evaluating the lines of evidence for plate tectonics
Becca Walker, Mt San Antonio College
In this in-class exercise, students compare several lines of evidence that support the ideas of continental drift and plate tectonics. Before the class meeting, each student is given a preparation assignment in which he/she studies one "continental drift" and one "ocean floor data" map. In class, students divide into teams of 3, with each team member having prepared different specialties. They discuss their respective maps and look for spatial patterns among the data.

Rock-Tectonics synthesis lab
Dori Farthing, SUNY Geneseo
This lab aims to draw together rock identification and plate tectonics as well as relative age relationships. It gets students to "be" geologists...looking at rock suites and trying to see how they fit ...

Determining Earthquake Recurrence Intervals from Trench Logs
Patricia Cashman, University of Nevada-Reno
Trench logs of the San Andreas Fault at Pallett Creek, CA are the data base for a lab or homework assignment that teaches about relative dating, radiometric dating, fault recurrence intervals and the reasons for uncertainty in predicting geologic phenomena. Students are given a trench log that includes several fault strands and dated stratigraphic horizons. They estimate the times of faulting based on bracketing ages of faulted and unfaulted strata. They compile a table with the faulting events from the trench log and additional events recognized in nearby trenches, then calculate maximum, minimum and average earthquake recurrence intervals for the San Andreas Fault in this area. They conclude by making their own prediction for the timing of the next earthquake.

Characterizing Plate Boundaries
Bill Hirt, College of the Siskiyous
Students examine maps showing four different types of geologic data along three specific plate boundaries, and document the patterns in the data along each boundary. Next, they compare their observations to the ...

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