Determining Plate Rates From Hot Spot Tracks Using Google Earth
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: May 10, 2017
Higher order thinking skills goals
Calculating rates from distances between and ages of volcanic centers and converting units from km/million year to cm/yr. Thinking about why using different island pairs along the same chain give somewhat different values. Seeing how plate directions obtained from a number of hotspot tracks fit together.
Other skills goals
More practice with Google Earth and understanding vectors.
Context for Use
Type and level of course
This exercise is used in a University of California undergraduate introductory online class "Geology of National Parks" created by Susan Schwartz, David Osleger and Jeff Gee. It is an activity in the Module on Hotspot Volcanism.
Skills and concepts students should have mastered
The students have already covered the basics of igneous rocks and understand the association between volcanic rocks and tectonic setting. They have also completed an introductory exercise using Google Earth so they are familiar with how to load a kmz file, the use of the scale tool and other Google Earth basics.
How the activity is situated in the course
This is a stand alone exercise in the Hotspot Volcanism module.
Description and Teaching Materials
Google Earth kmz file (KMZ File 77kB Apr24 17)
Student Handout for Plate Rate Assignment (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 179kB Apr24 17)