||Exploring the Dynamic
Earth explores the process that governs the large-scale structure
of the Earth's surface, plate tectonics. The module consists of five
individual units and can be divided into two broad topics: plate tectonics
itself and the geologic hazards that arise from the process.**
This module emphasizes three basic concepts: 1) heat is a driving
force for plate tectonics; 2) present tectonic activity is a key to
the past, and the past can be used to understand the future; and 3)
hazards become disasters when people are affected.
- Unit 1 - Searching for evidence | Overview
- Students investigate patterns in the
global distribution of earthquakes, volcanoes and topographic
anomalies to discover the locations and properties of different
types of tectonic boundaries.
Highlights - Topographic
Block Diagram screen-shot
- Unit 2- Exploring plate tectonics | Overview
- Students explore patterns of seafloor
age and calculate the rate of spreading in the Atlantic Ocean.
They use their results to understand the history of opening
the Atlantic basin and how spreading rates change over time.
Next, they compare these rates to the Pacific Ocean to see that
spreading rate is not globally uniform. Using plate motion vectors,
students predict future trends of plate motion and calculate
the time required for the Juan de Fuca plate to be completely
subducted. They calculate seafloor spreading rates for the Hawaiian-Emperor
chain using hotspot volcanism. Finally, they look at the motion
of California along the San Andreas Fault and see that San Francisco
and Los Angeles are slowly moving closer to each other.
Highlights - Seafloor
- Unit 3 - Earthquake hazards | Overview
- Students examine earthquake data to
locate the largest and most damaging earthquakes. They explore
trends in deadly earthquakes throughout history. Students learn
about factors that affect earthquake destruction, and they learn
about recurrence intervals and how to use them to predict future
risks. Finally, they examine the relationship between population,
national wealth, and seismic risk.
Taiwan earthquake damage
- Unit 4 - Volcano hazards | Overview
- Students study historical volcanoes,
learn about the volcanic explosivity index (VEI) scale, and
determine the recurrence interval for volcanic eruptions. They
become familiar with different types of volcanic eruptions and
investigate the effect of major eruptions on climate. Students
conclude the unit with an examination of large (VEI 7-8) eruptions
and learn how far the effects of the eruptions can spread.
- Unit 5- Tsunami hazards | Overview
- Students are introduced to tsunamis
and their behavior by analyzing two major tsunami events. Students
learn what tsunamis are, how they form, how they affect communities,
and how communities can prepare for tsunami events. Finally,
students study the interaction between tsunamis and tides and
examine tsunami trigger events with the goal of developing criteria
to use to issue tsunami warnings.
** The SAGUARO Exploring GIS Investigations
for Earth Science curriculum requries the use of ESRI's ArcView®
GIS software version 3.0 for Macintosh or 3.2 and higher for PC.