Plate Tectonics, the San Andreas Fault System, and How They Reorganized the Topography and Geology of Southern California.

Thursday 1:30pm-4:00pm E Building 104
Afternoon Mini Workshop


Tanya Atwater, University of California-Santa Barbara

The Californias are one of the few places on Earth where the geology of the land is intimately entangled with the details of the adjacent oceanic plate tectonic history and, as such, they present an exceptional vehicle for introducing and exploring both realms. I have developed a number of resources, both computer free-ware animations and physical models, to illuminate these relationships. In this workshop, we shall explore these resources, with particular emphasis on a hands-on model for the creation of Southern California's amazingly complex landscapes, rocks, micro-climates, and natural hazards.


By the end of this workshop, participants will:

  • Be introduced to a set of resources created for teaching plate tectonics, particularly focused on Southern California
  • Come away with materials or online resources to use in their own classrooms


1:30pm "Entrance exam" and Background P T Fundamentals

 Work through "Entrance exam" (then check against "cheat sheets"?)   Subjects addressed:

  • Crust/mantle  vs lithosphere/asthenosphere – composition vs strength
  • Continental crust vs oceanic crust –  fill chart: 
            composition, age range, thickness, formation, variability
  • Continental lithosphere vs oceanic lithosphere - 
                       buoyancy/anti-buoyancy:  subduction vs cont. collision

Groups: discuss answers and formulate questions for discussion

Atwater and All: discuss common sticking points, plus...

  • Plate motion rates vs Continental/Oceanic Plate thicknesses
  • Relative motions and possible mantle frames of reference
  • Moving SFS centers
  • Driving Mechanism

2:00pm  Southern California/San Andreas Plate Model:  one packet per group

2:50pm  Break

3:00pm  Stations

3:45pm  Evaluation





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