Physical and Chemical Variations Along the Central American Volcanic Arc
The Central American volcanic arc displays large arc-parallel variations in chemical composition that yield important clues concerning the complex origin of magmas in subduction zones. In this exercise, students use data compiled for the NSF MARGINS program to compare heights, volumes, and whole-rock compositions of 39 Quaternary volcanic centers along the Central American arc, together with crustal thicknesses, to assess the possible sources of the magmas and the petrologic processes that have modified them prior to eruption.
- make and test hypotheses linking variables such as magma composition, crustal thickness, volcano height, and sediment subduction
Higher order thinking skills for this activity: This exercise requires students to formulate hypotheses and to compare/contrast data.
Other skills/goals for this activity: Obtaining and using data from online databases like those at the NSF-MARGINS portal informs the students about the powerful resources that have recently become available to the scientific community via the creation of digital cyberinformatics and cyberinfrastructure. Carefully guiding students into these databases, through the various steps required to screen, download, import, and use their data, students are empowered to think and act like scientist in tangible and practical ways.
Context for Use
Description and Teaching Materials
The instructions for students and location of the dataset for this activity can be found where it was originally published by the author as a part of the Integrating Research and Education project: