Quantitative Skills > Teaching Resources > Activities > Landscape Diffusion Lab

Landscape Diffusion Lab

Vassar College
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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

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: May 3, 2006


Students create a STELLA model of two marine terrace platforms separated in elevation by a cliff. They use the hillslope flux equation to simulate the change in the cliff face over time as diffusive processes tear it down. This modeling project is based on a problem of great geomorphological interest: how landscapes evolve over time in response to processes such as raindrop impacts, the annual cycle of freeze-thaw, tree throw, and the action of burrowing animals. All of these diffusive processes act to move soils and sediments from topographic high points to low points.

Context for Use

This activity was developed for a class introducing dynamical systems modeling to upper level undergraduate students.

Teaching Notes and Tips

Instructor Notes.pdf (Acrobat (PDF) 20kB Apr10 06)

Teaching Materials

scarp_diffusion_lab.pdf (Acrobat (PDF) 25kB Jun13 05)
scarp_diffusion_v7.STM ( 49kB Jun13 05)


scarp_diffusion_answer_key.pdf (Acrobat (PDF) 59kB Jun13 05)

References and Resources

The following are readings for this lab activity:

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Controlled Vocabulary Terms

Subject: Geoscience:Oceanography, Geology
Resource Type: Computer Applications, Activities:Lab Activity
Special Interest: Quantitative, Computer-Based
Grade Level: College Upper (15-16)
Quantitative Skills: Models and Modeling
Ready for Use: Ready to Use
Topics: Earth surface, Ocean
Theme: Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Oceanography

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