Olympus Mons and Hawaii

Carol Ormand
,
SERC, Carleton College
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Summary

Students estimate the volume of Olympus Mons and the volume of lava that has erupted from the Hawaiian hotspot and compare them.

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Context

Audience

Geology of the National Parks (intro level course for majors and non-majors)

See the course description, including links to all of the other teaching activities for this course.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

This activity requires students to calculate the volume of a "cone" and to come up with a method for estimating the cumulative volumes of the Hawaiian Island - Emperor seamount chain. I allow students to work in groups to figure out how to do this.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is an early lab exercise, the first of several related to volcanoes and volcanic processes.

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

Students will be able to explain that the Hawaiian Island - Emperor Seamount chain is the result of the movement of the Pacific Plate over the Hawaiian hotspot, and will be able to describe how to calculate approximately how much lava has erupted from the hotspot over time.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Students will begin developing their ability to solve analytical problems.

Other skills goals for this activity

Students will be able to apply basic mathematics to answer geological questions.

Description of the activity/assignment

Students use the height and radius of Olympus Mons to estimate its volume. They then propose a method to estimate the volume of lava that has erupted over from the Hawaiian hotspot over time. I then show them a graph of the cumulative volcanic volume as a function of distance from Kilauea (from Clague and Dalrymple). They compare these volumes and also consider the possibility that some of the lava erupted from the Hawaiian hotspot has been subducted.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students write a report, answering the questions in the lab handout and showing their calculations. I use a rubric (included in the lab handout) to assess student learning.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

https://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/1987/1350/pdf/chapters/pp1350_ch1.pdf: Clague and Dalrymple, USGS Professional Paper 1350, The Hawaiian-Emperor Volcanic Chain. In particular, Figure 1.8 is the graph of the cumulative volcanic volume along the Hawaiian-Emperor chain as a function of distance from Kilauea.

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