Volcanic Histories

Robert Filson
Green River Community College
Author Profile
Initial Publication Date: October 29, 2008 | Reviewed: July 12, 2015


Students collaborate on the history and hazards of two volcanoes based on deposits from the two mountains. Appropriate for introductory students.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications



This activity is appropriate for students in a Physical Geology class (for majors and non-majors) that are studying volcanism.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

They should know about types of volcanoes and the products of volcanoes.

How the activity is situated in the course

I use problems like this one in small group discussions. The students collaborate and submit one answer sheet for their group. This type of activity spawns numerous questions which I use as an assessment of my efforts in communicating the ideas.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Goals would include improvement of communication between students in the course, analysis of geological-type data, and using course content to answer a more open-ended question.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

The answers to the questions are not something that can be accessed through a textbook, so they must analyze data. They must communicate effectively with the other students in their group to contstruct the answers.

Other skills goals for this activity

Description of the activity/assignment

To prepare for this in-class problem, students should have read about volcanism in their introductory text. Specifically they will need to know the types of volcanoes, the characteristics of volcanic products, such as lava flows of different silica compositions, tephra, lahars, and pyroclastic flows. Students should be able to connect the types of activity of a volcano to its type, such as composite volcanoes having abundant tephra, with some lava flows, while a shield volcano may have less tephra and more low viscosity lava flows.
This activity is similar to the process used by geoscientists to evaluate the history and hazards of a volcano.

Determining whether students have met the goals

The students submit a group paper and I evaluate the answers to the questions. I also use the questions asked by the students during the class discussion to provide feedback on what the students did not learn in the class sessions before the group activity.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

Other Materials