What's Shaking in Greenland?
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
1. Identify major features of a continental glacier system in satellite imagery and explain how the system operates.
2. Describe icequake occurrence in Greenland and demonstrate how their increasing frequency exemplifies the concept of Earth as a system, connecting climate change, glacial melting, and seismic activity.
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Other skills goals for this activity
Description and Teaching Materials
This IRIS (Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology) activity is part of a collection of activities based on questions that identify promising research directions on the frontiers of seismology as outlined in the Seismological Grand Challenges in Understanding Earth's Dynamic System. The collection has been developed to engage students in the analysis of real data and to bring examples of frontier research topics into the undergraduate classroom. Further information about the activity including links to related resources is available on the IRIS website at http://www.iris.edu/hq/inclass/lesson/whats_shaking_in_greenland .
Instructor guide: "What's Shaking in Greenland?" (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 135kB Jun15 17)
Student worksheet KEY: "What's Shaking in Greenland?" (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 1.2MB Jun15 17)
Student worksheet: "What's Shaking in Greenland?" (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 1.2MB Jun15 17)
Icequakes 1993-2010 (KMLFile 81kB Jun1 17)
Greenland air temperature data (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 89kB Jun1 17)
Teaching Notes and Tips
2) Once students have completed the lab, the following quotation can be assigned as homework or a class discussion.
Research into icequakes is new and there are many unknowns regarding how and why they occur. Extend this lab with a reflection and class discussion of the conclusions that scientists Meredith Nettles and Göran Ekström from Columbia University write about in an article from 2010 in the journal Annual Reviews in Earth and Planetary Sciences:
"The retreat and advance patterns of glacier termini provide a general explanation for the variability in glacial-earthquake frequency on seasonal and interannual timescales...To explain these variations, better knowledge of the physical controls on calving-front advance and retreat, and on calving style, is required... Sea-ice conditions and variations in water temperature and currents in the fjord system correlate with interannual advance and retreat patterns, but seasonal conditions are poorly known... A better understanding of interactions among ice, ocean, and atmospheric conditions is needed to clarify the mechanisms controlling the timing of large-scale calving events."
References and Resources
Glaciers and ice loss animation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVm3rZZs49s
Lay, T., Aster, R. C., Forsyth, D. W. and the Seismological Grand Challenges Writing Group (2009). Seismological Grand Challenges in Understanding Earth's Dynamic System, http://www.iris.edu/hq/lrsps/seis_plan_final.pdf.
Nettles, M. and G. Ekström, G. (2010). Glacial earthquakes in Greenland and Antarctica, Annual Reviews of Earth and Planetary Science, 38, 467–491, doi: 10.1146/annurev-earth-040809-152414, 2010.
Sampson, V. and Grooms, J. (2010). Generate an argument: An instructional model. The Science Teacher, 77(5), 33-37.
Tsai, V. C. and Ekstrom, G. (2007). Analysis of Glacial Earthquakes. Journal of Geophysical Research, 112, F03S22.
Veitch, S. A. and Nettles, M. (2012). Spatial and temporal variations in Greenland glacial-earthquake activity, 1993–2010. Journal of Geophysical Research, 117, F04007.