Initial Publication Date: February 9, 2010

Geodynamics Resources

Topical Resources
Image of the Yellowstone - Snake River Plain
Yellowstone - Snake River Plain. Details

Cretaceous Superplume The resources linked from this page include an assortment of web- and non-web resources, published papers, abstracts, graphics, and animations. Direct links to web resources are followed by a "more info" link that gives a short description of the web resource.

Teaching Activities

Driving forces of plate tectonics and the importance of inertia In this simple in class calculations students discover that inertia or momentum is completely unimportant in considering the driving forces of plate tectonics.

The Birth of the Earth System and the Convection Paradigm This combination lecture sequence and problem set activity sets the stage for the appearance and importance of convection within the Earth System, then presents an advanced theoretical discussion of basic mathematical and physical aspects of convection. These 'basics' will allow students to subsequently move on to rigorous treatments of geophysical fluid dynamics in the context of Earth System Science.

Hotspot Lesson: Mantle Plumes This lesson explains a theory on magma generation at hotspots called the mantle plume theory as well as possible ways of finding evidence to support the theory. The goal of this lesson is to introduce students to a theory that scientists are actively trying to evidence or refute. Through this students will learn about mantle tomography which helps scientists make predictions about the inside of the earth. 

Viscosity of the Mantle: Constraints from post-glacial rebound In this lab, students determine the viscosity of a relatively viscous fluid by measuring the rate of rebound of a partially submerged object following a rapid decrease in its mass. This experiment is carried out in the context of an analysis of post-glacial rebound as a measurement of the viscosity of the mantle.

Interpretation of plate boundaries from topography, bathymetry, volcanoes, and earthquake focal depths using Google Earth and OneNote In this activity, students are provided with data on topography, bathymetry, locations of earthquakes and volcanoes and earthquake focal depths in Google Earth. They are asked to plot a cross-section of topography/bathymetry and earthquake focal depths in OneNote and determine the type of plate boundary. 


Mantle Convection and Plumes This collection of animations and images provides examples of the current state of knowledge and research into the nature of mantle convection and the origins of plumes. 

Geodynamo Visualizations These animations and images are examples of the current research into the generation of the Earth's magnetic field by action of a dynamo in the core of the planet.

Plate Tectonic Movements This section provides access to a wide array of visualizations and supporting material that can be used effectively to teach students about plate tectonic movements. Visualizations include simple animations, GIS-based animated maps, paleogeographic maps and globes, as well as numerous illustrations and photos. This collection is not exhaustive but does represent some of the best sources for teaching.


The Bowels of the Earth, John Elder, Oxford University Press, pp. 21-22, 1976.

Geodynamics, D.L. Turcotte and G. Schubert, Cambridge University Press, 2nd ed., pp. xx-yy, 2002.

Mantle convection in the earth and planets, G. Schubert, D.L. Turcotte and P. Olsen, Cambridge University Press, pp. xx-yy, 2001.

Computational Infrastructure for Geodynamics: CIG is an organization that supports and promotes Earth science by developing and maintaining software for computational geophysics and related fields.