GETSI Teaching Materials >GPS, Strain, and Earthquakes > Unit 6: Applying GPS strain and earthquake hazard analyses to different regions
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This module is part of a growing collection of classroom-tested materials developed by GETSI. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
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Unit 6: Applying GPS strain and earthquake hazard analyses to different regions

Vince Cronin, Baylor University (Vince_Cronin@baylor.edu)
Phil Resor, Wesleyan University (presor@wesleyan.edu)

These materials have been reviewed for their alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards as detailed below. Visit InTeGrate and the NGSS to learn more.

Overview

Students conduct a strain analysis and interpretation on a seismically active region of their choice. They assess the area for local strain and relate it to regional earthquakes and earthquake hazards, and propose possible mitigation solutions.

Science and Engineering Practices

Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking: Use mathematical, computational, and/or algorithmic representations of phenomena or design solutions to describe and/or support claims and/or explanations. HS-P5.2:

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations: Plan an investigation or test a design individually and collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence as part of building and revising models, supporting explanations for phenomena, or testing solutions to problems. Consider possible confounding variables or effects and evaluate the investigation’s design to ensure variables are controlled. HS-P3.1:

Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information: Communicate scientific and/or technical information or ideas (e.g. about phenomena and/or the process of development and the design and performance of a proposed process or system) in multiple formats (i.e., orally, graphically, textually, mathematically). HS-P8.5:

Engaging in Argument from Evidence: Make and defend a claim based on evidence about the natural world or the effectiveness of a design solution that reflects scientific knowledge and student-generated evidence. HS-P7.5:

Developing and Using Models: Develop, revise, and/or use a model based on evidence to illustrate and/or predict the relationships between systems or between components of a system HS-P2.3:

Developing and Using Models: Develop and/or use a model (including mathematical and computational) to generate data to support explanations, predict phenomena, analyze systems, and/or solve problems. HS-P2.6:

Analyzing and Interpreting Data: Analyze data using tools, technologies, and/or models (e.g., computational, mathematical) in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims or determine an optimal design solution. HS-P4.1:

Cross Cutting Concepts

Stability and Change: Much of science deals with constructing explanations of how things change and how they remain stable. HS-C7.1:

Stability and Change: Change and rates of change can be quantified and modeled over very short or very long periods of time. Some system changes are irreversible. HS-C7.2:

Patterns: Mathematical representations are needed to identify some patterns HS-C1.4:

Cause and effect: Cause and effect relationships can be suggested and predicted for complex natural and human designed systems by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system. HS-C2.2:

Disciplinary Core Ideas

Natural Hazards: Natural hazards and other geologic events have shaped the course of human history; [they] have significantly altered the sizes of human populations and have driven human migrations. HS-ESS3.B1:

Performance Expectations

Engineering Design: Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants. HS-ETS1-1:

Earth and Human Activity: Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios. HS-ESS3-2:

This material was developed and reviewed through the GETSI curricular materials development process. This rigorous, structured process includes:

  • team-based development to ensure materials are appropriate across multiple educational settings.
  • multiple iterative reviews and feedback cycles through the course of material development with input to the authoring team from both project editors and an external assessment team.
  • real in-class or field camp/course testing of materials in multiple courses with external review of student assessment data.
  • multiple reviews to ensure the materials meet the GETSI materials rubric which codifies best practices in curricular development, student assessment and pedagogic techniques.
  • created or reviewed by content experts for accuracy of the science content.


This page first made public: Dec 9, 2016

Summary

Students select their own set of three stations in an area of interest to them, conduct a strain analysis of the area between the stations, and tie the findings to regional tectonics and societal impacts in a 5–7 minute class presentation. For many students this is their first foray into "research" and can be a powerfully eye-opening and exciting (if intimidating) experience. In larger classes, students can work in pairs to shorten total time needed for presentations. Unit 6, along with exam question/s, is the Summative Assessment for the module.

Learning Goals

Unit 6 Learning Outcomes

This unit is intended to provide the summative assessment for the entire module. As such the students should demonstrate a mastery of the learning goals for the entire module. These include the following:

  1. Students are able to access and analyze GPS data in order to calculate and interpret ongoing strain in the region between three neighboring GPS stations.
  2. Students are able to synthesize how calculated local strain is related to regional tectonics and earthquake hazard and risk and propose mitigation strategies.
    Supports Earth Science Big Ideas ESBI-1: Earth scientists use repeatable observations and testable ideas to understand and explain our planet; ESBI-4: Earth is continuously changing; ESBI-7: Humans depend on Earth for resources; and ESBI-8: Natural hazards pose risks to humans. (link opens in new window)

Unit 6 Teaching Objectives

Unit 6 is intended to be a synthesis of the different techniques and concepts covered in the module, as applied to a new location of the students' choosing. Support students as they progress through the Unit 6 workflow and, where necessary, help them in recalling and applying previously learned material.

Context for Use

This module was designed for structural geology courses but can also be successfully used in geophysics, tectonics, or geohazards courses or possibly even a physics or engineering course seeking practical applications. It can be done at almost any point during the term. Unit 6 (along with possible exam questions) is the summative assessment for the module. At a minimum, Unit 3: Getting started with GPS data and Unit 4: GPS and infinitesimal strain analysis must be completed prior to doing Unit 6.

Description and Teaching Materials

The final project for the module is a 5–7 minute presentation by each student on a GPS strain analysis for a region of interest to them. Alternatively, particularly for larger classes, you may choose to have students work in pairs to reduce the class time devoted to presentations. In preparation for the final project, students should identify a set of three adjacent PBO GPS sites that are located in an area of active crustal strain and have some nearby population and/or infrastructure (dams, transportation corridors, energy sources or corridors). The sites should form a triangle whose interior angles are all greater than ~30° and with no side more than 100 km in length. An efficient way for them to identify an area where there is active crustal strain is to consult the Quaternary Fault and Fold Database of the United States online via http://earthquake.usgs.gov/hazards/qfaults/.

Most likely you will assign this project to be due during a lab or class period a week or two in the future. Therefore, other elements of the course will be started before the GPS, Strain, and Earthquakes module is finally completed and assessed. Doing presentations provides students with experience in public communication and is generally quicker for the instructor to grade; however, if you do not have the class time to devote to presentations, the same basic assignment could be given as a lab write-up instead of a PowerPoint presentation.

Along with the 5–7 minute PowerPoint presentation, students are asked to turn in a brief Word document reflection about what they have learned and how else they might apply these methods/data. The inclusion of reflection (or metacognition) is an essential component of learning. If you have your students do Minute Papers or "muddiest point" cards at the end of class, the same basic purpose is served.

Teaching Notes and Tips

  • In order for the students to be able to accomplish the component of the final project related to societal impact, risk, and mitigation, it can help to point them to earthquake reports and scenarios that might help them address these topics. They were introduced to such reports in Unit 4. Good sources for this type of information can include: USGS, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), ShakeOut.org, and various state emergency management agencies.
  • It seems to help the quality of students' final projects if you give pretty specific instructions on the number and content of the slides they should use in the final presentation. For instance, specify that there should be a title slide with their study area and name. Also give guidance on the general number and content of the results and tectonic context. The assignment clearly asks for it, but students tend to neglect the societal aspect of hazard, risk, and mitigation. Make sure they know this is an essential part of the presentation. Unit 6 Example of additional presentation guidance for students (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 321kB Dec19 17)
  • 5–7 minutes is not long for a presentation. Urge your students to practice the talk aloud several times in order to have an effective presentation that fits in the time limit. Particularly for larger classes, it is critical to make the students stick to the time limit.
  • You can also have students do the final project and presentation in pairs if your class is particularly large.

Assessment

Unit 6 is the primary summative assessment for the module. The student report should be graded using the rubric that is given to the students in their assignment (above) and is also given here for reference. Instructors can modify this rubric to assign point values in a manner that is consistent with their course-grading scheme. Student metacognition is an important part of the learning process. The Unit 6 student assignment should be used to encourage students to reflect on their own learning during this module and its personal significance. Students' ideas should not be graded, but responses can be scored using the rubric included in the handout.

Unit 6 Summative Assessment Rubric (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 24kB Dec8 16)

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This module is part of a growing collection of classroom-tested materials developed by GETSI. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »