Teach the Earth > Structural Geology > Structure, Geophysics, and Tectonics 2012 > Teaching Activities > Mid-Ocean Ridge Observations

Mid-Ocean Ridge Observations

Jamie Levine, Whitman College

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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

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This page first made public: Jun 1, 2012


Students work in partners during class to make observations about the East Pacific Rise and Mid-Atlantic Ridge from Google Earth images. They also examine samples of typical oceanic crust and upper mantle and use relative density to predict the appropriate rock sequence.



Sophomore level tectonics course
It could also be used for an upper-level tectonics class or seminar if it was pitched at a slightly higher level.
I have tried it in an introductory class, but some of the students were a little bit lost.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students need to understand how plate tectonics operates and understand what a divergent margin is. The exercise will work best if students know their rock types fairly well.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is a class activity that is done 1-day while discussing divergent margins.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Divergent Margins
Fast and slow spreading ridges
Ophiolite Sequences and Structure of Oceanic Crust and Upper Mantle

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Separation of observations and interpretations

Other skills goals for this activity

Working in groups

Description and Teaching Materials

The file attached is for instructors on how to run the activity. There are no handouts needed for students.

Instructor Information for Mid-Ocean Ridge Observations (Microsoft Word 25kB May6 12)

Teaching Notes and Tips

The activity can be modified depending on the level of the students.


I determine whether students have met the goals primarily based on their participation. When the students are discussing with their partners, I make sure that one partner is not doing all of the talking. If it appears to be 1-sided, I try to ask the less involved student some questions, to make sure they understand the activity.

References and Resources

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Petrology resources from across Teach the Earth »

Petrology resources from Teach the Earth include:

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Plate Tectonics resources from across Teach the Earth »

Plate Tectonics resources from Teach the Earth include:

Specialized collections including

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