The idea came from Eric Muller’s activity Locating Earthquake Epicenters. His lesson suggests plotting daily earthquake data but I wasn’t able to spend a few minutes a day on that. Instead I modified Eric’s activity to fit in a single class period.
For resources and additional background information on plate tectonics, see the sources section of the Plate Patterns lesson.
Plate Tectonics and Earth's Structure
1. Plate tectonics accounts for important features of Earth's surface and major geologic events. As a basis for understanding this concept:
a. Students know evidence of plate tectonics is derived from the fit of the continents; the location of earthquakes, volcanoes, and midocean ridges; and the distribution of fossils, rock types, and ancient climatic zones.
d. Students know that earthquakes are sudden motions along breaks in the crust called faults and that volcanoes and fissures are locations where magma reaches the surface.
e. Students know major geologic events, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and mountain building, result from plate motions.
Shaping Earth's Surface
2. Topography is reshaped by the weathering of rock and soil and by the transportation and deposition of sediment. As a basis for understanding this concept:
d. Students know earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and floods change human and wildlife habitats.
Investigation and Experimentation
7. Scientific progress is made by asking meaningful questions and conducting careful investigations. As a basis for understanding this concept and addressing the content in the other three strands, students should develop their own questions and perform investigations. Students will:
f. Read a topographic map and a geologic map for evidence provided on the maps and construct and interpret a simple scale map.
Grades 9-12 Earth Science
Dynamic Earth Processes
3. Plate tectonics operating over geologic time has changed the patterns of land, sea, and mountains on Earth's surface. As the basis for understanding this concept:
d. Students know why and how earthquakes occur and the scales used to measure their intensity and magnitude.