Unit 6: Capstone: A modern catastrophic volcanic eruption?
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.
OverviewIn this unit, students research historic volcanic eruptions in preparation for class presentations. A capstone project (completed individually or in groups) tasks students with developing a conceptual model that explores the possible climatic and societal effects of a large-scale volcanic eruption occurring in modern times. Students use knowledge of energy flow to incorporate concept maps, concept sketches, and systems diagrams into key aspects of their module. Students compare and contrast similarities and differences between the expected climatic effects of an eruption to possible climatic effects of anthropogenically induced global warming.
Science and Engineering Practices
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:
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:
Cross Cutting Concepts
Stability and Change: Stability might be disturbed either by sudden events or gradual changes that accumulate over time. MS-C7.3:
Systems and System Models: Models (e.g., physical, mathematical, computer models) can be used to simulate systems and interactions—including energy, matter, and information flows—within and between systems at different scales. HS-C4.3:
Disciplinary Core Ideas
Earth Materials and Systems: The geological record shows that changes to global and regional climate can be caused by interactions among changes in the sun’s energy output or Earth’s orbit, tectonic events, ocean circulation, volcanic activity, glaciers, vegetation, and human activities. These changes can occur on a variety of time scales from sudden (e.g., volcanic ash clouds) to intermediate (ice ages) to very long-term tectonic cycles. HS-ESS2.A3:
Earth and Human Activity: Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems. HS-ESS3-5:
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This page first made public: Nov 18, 2016
This unit is the module's capstone project: developing a conceptual model of the climatic and societal effects of a catastrophic volcanic eruption occurring in modern times. Through independent research and in-class collaboration, students explore the climatic and societal effects of past volcanic eruption events. Students are then introduced to the large Toba eruption event, review concept maps, concept sketches, and system diagrams, and are are given examples and guidelines for conceptual model design. Students complete their written summary outside of class.
By the end of the unit, students will:
- Explain important climatic and societal features of a significant volcanic eruption.
- Develop an outline characterizing a significant volcanic eruption.
- Present their developed outline, as a team, to the class.
- Design a conceptual model and develop hypotheses to estimate the climatic and societal implication of a large Toba-type volcanic eruption in the year 2020.
- Compare and contrast the similarities and differences between the expected climatic effects of a Toba-sized eruption and the climatic effects possible from anthropogenically induced global warming.
- Communicate research findings, conceptual model, and compare and contrast exercise in a written summary.
Context for Use
This unit activity should work well with most class sizes and assumes a 50-minute in-class session. It is designed as a capstone project for introductory undergraduate geoscience students who have been introduced to the ideas presented in Units 1–5 of this module. It is assumed that students can describe the important energy flows controlling Earth's climate, and have used concept maps, concept sketches, and systems diagrams in previous module units to explain key aspects of the Earth system.
Description and Teaching Materials
Part A. Researching the climatic effects of historically recent eruption events (30 min total)
Approximate time allocation for part A: 5 min setup, 10 min discussion, and 15 min reporting key results to the class. Reporting time may vary with class size; see teaching tips.
Pre-class volcano research summary assignment, introduced in Unit 3: Large Eruption Part A (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 162kB Nov18 16) (pdf Large Eruption Part A (Acrobat (PDF) 310kB Nov18 16)). Students will be broken into three groups and assigned to research and summarize one of three post-1800 volcanic eruptions. This assignment was given as a take-home assignment at the end of Unit 3. Estimated homework time on this pre-class activity is about an hour.
Students come to class after completing the above assignment with two copies of their summaries, one to turn-in and one to use in group work. Groups of students researching the same volcanic eruption develop an executive summary outlining the most important aspects of their research findings. Each group will present their summaries to the class.
During the first half of Unit 6 class session, students with the same volcano to research come together in teams to share and summarize their research findings. Depending on class size you may want to have several teams for each eruption event (Pinatubo, Krakatoa, or Tambora). For example, in a class of 30, six groups of five students each, would give two groups for each volcano. The first Pinatubo group can present their summary and the second Pinatubo group can add to the first group's summary. The process can be repeated for the Krakatoa and Tambora groups. The first group to present can be randomly selected. Large sheets of paper can be used for these summaries or if your lecture room is equipped with a document projector that would be preferred. The advantage of the document projector is that images can be easily shared.
Perusing this PowerPoint presentation for
The references and resources section below also contain good resources for all three volcanic eruptions to help the instructor build background knowledge and contribute important ideas that students may have missed in their research.
Capstone Project. Conceptual model development (20 min total)
The development of a conceptual model exploring the possible climatic and societal effects of a Toba-scale volcanic eruption occurring in modern times is the capstone summative assessment for this module.
This Unit 6 Part B PowerPoint (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 4.6MB Sep1 16) is can be used to:
- Introduce students to the Toba eruption. (Included in this PowerPoint is a link to an Open University podcast that should be uploaded and ready to go before class begins.)
- Clarify what is meant by a conceptual model in the context of this assignment, and review concept maps, concept sketches, and systems diagrams as important methods used for explaining the underlying processes included in a conceptual model and its expected behavior.
- The last three slides include a link to library resources that can help students evaluate the quality of sources in their research.
Post-class assignment, "Design a Conceptual Model to estimate the effects of a large eruption event occurring in the year 2020"
Teaching Notes and Tips
To prepare for this unit students should be given the Large Eruption Part A (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 162kB Nov18 16) assignment at least 5 days before the unit 6 class session. Presently it is included as a take home assignment at the end of Unit 3. A document viewer can be very useful for the student presentations.
For larger class sizes, student presenters can be selected randomly to reduce the time spent on student presentations.
For larger class sizes, having students work in groups of 3 to 5 for both Parts A and B can significantly reduce the grading load.
Another streamlining approach would be for all student groups to focus on one specific eruption for a case study, with each student group responsible for different aspects of the selected eruption (climatic effects, societal, economic, human health, art inspire by the event).
For larger class sizes requiring students to work in teams can greatly reduce the number of papers to grade. If you prefer that students work on their own make sure to edit the paragraph near the top of page 3 in the Capstone Project (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 829kB Nov18 16) .
Links to conceptual models, concept maps, and causal loop diagrams are included in the references and resources section below. In Appendix 1 of pdf Capstone Project (Acrobat (PDF) 968kB Nov18 16), students have access to these links and to Unit 6 Part B PowerPoint (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 4.6MB Sep1 16). These resources may be useful references for them as they work through this project.
Instructors may want to provide the link for their university's search database for peer reviewed literature and other library resources. A link to Clark College's library research guides is already included in Appendix IV of the assignment which you may want to replace with your own library resources. Depending on your students you may need to spend some extra time on these topics.
It is not expected that individual students will summarize all important aspect of their assigned volcanic eruption for full credit on Large Eruption Part A (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 162kB Nov18 16) (pdf Large Eruption Part A (Acrobat (PDF) 310kB Nov18 16)). The Rubric for this assignment is included on page 4 of the assignment sheet. This PowerPoint presentation
An example rubric has been included in Team Guidelines (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 152kB Nov18 16) or pdf team guidelines (Acrobat (PDF) 197kB Nov18 16) for possible low stakes teamwork participation points. Assesses learning goal 3.
The assignment description, Capstone Project (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 829kB Nov18 16) is fairly open ended. This is intentional and allows students leeway to successfully complete this assignment in their own creative way, and with a focus on aspects of the volcanic effects to the Earth system or society that are most interesting to them. The rubric for the capstone project is include as page 4 of the assignment description.
References and Resources
- Volcanic Eruptions and Climate, by A Robock
- Global Volcanism Program of the Smithsonian
- Annenberg learner Volcanoes
- Mt Pinatubo
- A Teachers Guide to strato-volcanoes of the world, Pinatubo make sure to click on the tabs for story, features, and questions.
- A Poster summarizing the 1991 Mt Pinatubo eruption
- USGS summary of the atmospheric effects of the 1991 Mt Pinatubo eruption
- Summary of Pinatubo from Global Volcanism Program of the Smithsonian
- Mt Krakatoa
- The Eruption of Krakatoa and subsequent phenomena, published 1888
- Oregon State University Summary of Krakatoa
- Summary of Krakatau from Global Volcanism Program of the Smithsonian
- Mt Tamora
- Economist Summary for Tambora's 200th anniversary
- Book: Tambora:The Eruption That Changed the World, Gillen D'Arcy Wood
- The great Tambora Eruption and its aftermath, Richard B Stothers. Science June 15 1984, Vol 224, No. 4654, 1191-1198.
- Under an 1815 Volcano Eruption, Remains of a 'Lost Kingdom' by John Noble Wilford. Published: February 28, 2006.
- Summary of Tambora from Global Volcanism Program of the Smithsonian
- A Volcanic Eruption That Reverberates 200 Years Later, a 2015 NY times article of Tambora and the arts by William J. Broad.
- Mt Toba
- The effects and consequences of very large explosive volcanic eruptions, a Royal Society article by S. Self.
- Potential Atmospheric Impact of the Toba Mega‐Eruption ~71,000 years ago. Geophysical Research Letters 23 (8): 837–840.
- Toba Supper Volcano from Livescience
- Youtube video, 45 min total but first 5 minutes is also very informative.
- Concept maps/sketches
- On the Cutting Edge page on concept sketches
- A good starting point for using concept maps
- Assessing using concept maps
- System diagrams (Causal Loop Diagrams)
- Unit 3 Power Point (PowerPoint 2.6MB Nov18 16) (Overview of System Diagrams) and
- How to draw and use causal loop diagrams
- Conceptual models
- What is a Model, with link to conceptual models