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Quantitative Skills, Thinking, and Reasoning Activities


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Using Excel to plot numerical and analytical forms of the diffusion equation
Anne Lightbody, UNH
This computer-based assignment forces students to compare and contrast integral and differential forms of the conservation of mass equation, as well as analytical and numerical approaches to solution. Students are ...

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Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Rate of Lava Flow
Barb Tewksbury, Hamilton College
Question In 1983, an eruption began at Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii that has proved to be the largest and longest-lived eruption since records began in 1823. Lava has poured out of the volcano at an average rate of ...

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Harker Diagrams
Kent Ratajeski Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT Published Oct. 26, 2004. Description In this exercise, students use whole-rock major- and trace-element compositions of volcanic ...

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Quantifying Groundwater Baseflow and Improving Math Skills through a Stream-Discharge Exercise
James Reichard, Georgia Southern University
A two-part exercise is presented where students quantify stream discharge and use the data to determine groundwater baseflow. They first use tedious hand calculations to compute discharge; then develop their own ...

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Using a Mass Balance Model to Understand Carbon Dioxide and its Connection to Global Warming
Bob Mackay, Clark College
Students explore the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide over the past 40 years with an interactive on-line model.

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Mid-level spreadsheeting and complex modeling of real-world scarp evolution
William Locke, Montana State University-Bozeman
This exercise is a second or familiarization exercise in spreadsheeting, but is also a mathematical model for slope evolution. It uses the concept of "erosivity" (generally, the relative ratio of driving and resisting forces) and slope angle to reshape an initial topography. Finally, it asks the students themselves to come up with a real-world situation worth modeling.

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An Assessment of Hillslope Stability Using the Factor of Safety
Laura Moore, Oberlin College
In this homework assignment students are asked to consider the balance of forces on a hill slope using the Factor of Safety.

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Determining Mantle Temperature and Composition from Discontinuities
Anna Courtier, James Madison University
This pair of activities uses observations of mantle discontinuity structure to examine mantle heterogeneity and differences in the depth extent of melt sources for ridges and "hotspots." The first ...

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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 ...

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Problem set: Constructing metamorphic phase diagrams using phase equilibria and the Clausius-Clapeyron equation
Mark Brandriss
In this problem set students construct a P-T phase diagram for the aluminosilicate polymorphs based on experimental phase equilibria and application of the Clausius-Clapeyron equation. The problem set uses unit ...

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