# Hotspot Lesson: Hotspot Theory and Plate Velocities

**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 page first made public: Jan 29, 2008

This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project

#### Summary

This activity provides the students with a data set of ages of some of the Hawaiian Volcanoes and seamounts and how far they are from the active volcanism (considered to be the location of the hotspot). By plotting the data on a graph and fitting the data with a line of best fit, the plate velocity can be estimated by taking the slope of the line. This lesson defines hotspot volcanoes and the major contributors to the theory. It also discusses the importance of the hotspot theory and how hotspot island and seamount chains can be used to determine plate motions through geological time.

## Learning Goals

## Context for Use

This activity was developed for use in a high school (grades 9-12) earth science class. It is also appropriate for an introductory level college geoscience class. The goal of this lesson is for students to gain an understanding of hotspots and their useful applications in geosciences. Lesson duration: Approximately 35 minutes.

## Description and Teaching Materials

This activity begins with a

This lecture defines hotspot volcanoes and the major contributor to the theory. It also discusses the importance of the hotspot theory and how hotspot island and seamount chains can be used to determine absolute plate motion. The goal of this lesson is for students to gain an understanding of hotspots and their useful applications in geosciences. Download ...
This PowerPoint provides an example to students with a data set of ages of some of the Hawaiian Volcanoes and seamounts and how far they are from the active volcanism (considered to be the location of the hotspot). By plotting the data on a graph and fitting the data with a line of best fit, the plate velocity can be estimated by taking the slope of the line.
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This is the graph paper that should be used when plotting the data for the plate velocity activity.
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These are the student instructions for the Plate Velocities Activity. After completing the Plate Velocities presentations the velocity of the Pacific Plate can be estimated using this data.
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**PowerPoint lecture on hotspots and plate velocities**which lays out the hotspot theory of intra-plate volcanism as well as the theory's explanation for long chains of islands and seamounts. Following this, there is a**short PowerPoint**that introduces the activity that students will complete using the**activity sheet**. Students will also need to have sheets of**graph paper**on which to plot the island ages and distances.## Assessment

Instructors can assess student learning by collecting the activity sheets and graphs from students. Correctly plotting the age and distance data as well as the students' choice of fit line and the mathematics of determining its slope can all be assessed.

## References and Resources

### Lesson Materials

**PowerPoint Lecture on Hotspots and Plate Velocities**

**Introduction to Activity**

**Age vs. Distance Blank Graphing Paper**

**Student Activity Sheet**

### ERESE Resource Matrices

**Formation of Seamounts**

**Hotspots and Plate Motion**

**Volcanoes**

### Outside Links on Hotspots

**Wikipedia**