Submitted by Andrew Goodwillie, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Monterey Bay, CA. Image courtesy of the Marine Geoscience Data System. Click to enlarge

General description

GeoMapApp , a free Java(tm)-based tool which works on any type of computer, allows a broad range of geoscience data sets (digital elevations, earthquake data, geochemistry, plate motion information, research cruise tracks and profiles, sediment thickness grids, hydrothermal vent images, amongst many others) to be explored and viewed in their correct geographical context. Data sets, grids and shape files can also be imported.

Audience and Setting

This research-centered tool has wide applicability to geoscience education and is used by middle school and high school teachers, and by educators and researchers at institutions across the globe.

The richness of built-in data sets allows GeoMapApp to be used at a level tailored to the user's needs.

Examples of Educational use

Some examples include:

  • Demonstrating earth's topography in the oceans and on land, topographic profiles.
  • Demonstrating earthquake swarms.
  • Searching for geochemical signatures in rock samples collected along mid-ocean ridges and along continental volcanoes.
  • Exploring biodiversity at hydrothermal vents using deep sea submersible photos.

Activities using GeoMapApp from the SERC collections

Profiling Earth's Surface using GeoMapApp
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.

Exploring Seafloor Topography
In this chapter, users learn how we gather data about the depth of the ocean floor and how these data are displayed to indicate the shape of Earth's ocean basins. This module includes step-by-step instructions for downloading and working with GeoMapApp data.

What Kind of Continental Margin am I? Active or Passive?
Volcanoes, earthquakes, and topography reveal whether a continental margin is active or passive. In this activity, students use the GeoMapApp tool to work with earthquake, volcano, and topographic data to identify active and passive margins.

Margin Morphology: Does Form Follow Function?
Students will use GeoMapApp to investigate variations in the geomorphology of continental margins – both Passive and Active – at various sites of the North American and South American continents.

Plate Tectonics as Expressed in Geological Landforms and Events
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.

Sediment production and distribution across the margins
The aim of this exercise is for students to explore the relationships among tectonics, sediment production, oceanographic forcing, coastal morphology, and sediment accumulation at the margins.

A Geologic Safari of the East African Rift and the Newark Basin: Why these areas are more alike than you know
Students visualize earthquake, volcano, topographic data, geologic maps, and photographs of geologic structures to identify similarities and differences between the Newark Rift Basin and East African Rift using interactive powerpoint presentations and GeoMapApp.

From Ocean Topography to Flexural Rigidity
The project is designed to engage students in utilizing the ever-improving bathymetric techniques and data available in GeoMapApp to explore the strength of the oceanic lithosphere as a function of age.

Chemical Inputs and Outputs at Subduction Zones
In this activity the student analyzes global geochemistry data to create hypotheses regarding possible geochemical inputs at subduction zones, and the range of compositions associated with this type of convergent boundary. The exercise utilizes the EarthChem federation of online geochemical databases, GeoMapApp and Excel.

A tour of the Mariana Subduction System
This is an interactive lecture based around a geophysical (primarily bathmetry and seismic reflection data) tour of the Mariana convergent margin. Through a powerpoint presentation and optional GeoMapApp and GeoWall visualizations Students explore the principal provinces of the Mariana convergent margin from the subducting plate through the backarc.

Serpentinite in Subduction Zones: How do we find it, and how common is it?
This activity leads students through a range of literature sources and activities, including GeoMapApp manipulations and some "back of the envelope" calculations about isostatic compensation and volumetric expansion during serpentinization to help them appreciate the different ways that the presence of serpentinite can be observed or inferred in subduction zone settings.

Volcanoes of Central America
Test a published hypothesis on factors controlling volcano distribution in convergent margins using original data that is now a few decades old. Next, use a new data set that is substantially richer and more detailed to retest the old idea and develop new hypotheses concerning the relationships between volcanoes and faults.

Source to Sink Morphology, Sedimentation, and Anthropogenic Impact: Hudson System, New York
Familiarize students with the morphology of passive continental margins and their associated shelf valleys, submarine canyons and estuaries, and assess the anthropogenic impact.

Tracing sediment provenance from source to sink: Isotope records in the Bay of Bengal and Indonesia
In this exercise students examine data from a geochemical database to understand the link between source rocks and sedimentary deposits in the ocean, focusing on the Bay of Bengal. This activity utilizes the online geochemical database SedDB, GeoMapAPP, and Excel.

At the 2008 workshop on Teaching with New Geoscience Tools, faculty brainstormed for ideas about ways to teach using GeoMapApp. Here are their ideas:

Other Sources of Educational Activities

Educational Modules (click on the Education tab from this homepage) include chapters in the Earth Exploration Toolkit, data puzzles and concept tests.

How to Get the Software

Free. Download from Internet access is required when running GeoMapApp.

How to Use this Software

Teaching with MARGINS Data and GeoMapApp This video demonstrates the capabilities of the latest version of GeoMapApp and how it can be used with data being generated by the MARGINS project to deliver high-quality educational opportunities to students in college and high school. There is a brief introduction designed to show GeoMapApp's main functions, followed by three short presentations by faculty members to demonstrate the use of GeoMapApp and MARGINS-related data in the classroom.

On-line help is available at and

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