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Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
Science Education Standards: Earth and Space Science -- Content Standard D
Structure of the Earth System
- Land forms are the result of a combination of constructive and destructive forces. Constructive forces include crustal deformation, volcanic eruption and deposition of sediment, while destructive forces include weathering and erosion.
Energy in the Earth System
- Earth systems have internal and external sources of energy, both of which create heat. The sun is the major external source of energy. Two primary sources of internal energy are the decay of radioactive isotopes and the gravitational energy from the Earth's original formation.
- The outward transfer of Earth's internal heat drives convection circulation in the mantle that propels the plates comprising Earth's surface across the face of the globe.
The Origin and Evolution of the Earth System
- Interactions among the solid Earth, the oceans, the atmosphere, and organisms have resulted in the ongoing evolution of the Earth system. We can observe some changes such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions on a human time scale, but many processes such as mountain building and plate movements take place over hundreds of millions of years.
Short Description: This data-rich exercise to help students discover the processes that occur at plate tectonic boundaries is built around four global data maps: 1) Earthquake location and depth, 2) Location of recent volcanic activity, 3) Seafloor Age, and 4) Topography and Bathymetry. Alternative versions of the activity can concentrate on examining just the volcanic data and comparing the locations of volcanoes composed primarily of basalt to those of andesite and rhyolite, relative to plate boundaries. (To access all of the materials for this activity, please visit the Discovering Plate Boundaries website.)
Source: RICE University