Compositional Diversity in Volcanic Suites

This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Collection

Resources in this top level collection a) must have scored Exemplary or Very Good in all five review categories, and must also rate as “Exemplary” in at least three of the five categories. The five categories included in the peer review 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: Oct 19, 2006

Kent Ratajeski
Published Oct. 26, 2004.


In this exercise, students use whole-rock major- and trace-element compositions of volcanic rocks to explore the origins of compositional variation in igneous suites. Large datasets from the Yellowstone and Crater Lake calderas are downloaded from the GEOROC database, imported into Excel spreadsheets, and graphed to learn about the different petrogeneses of these two volcanic suites.

This exercise is one of several examples featured in the Geoscience Education in the New Cyberinfrastructure module at SERC. Each example is designed to give instructors and students direct practice for using cyberinformatic databases and tools to analyze Earth science data. Students should begin on the Case Study page.

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