2. Plate Patterns - Sources

Three excellent resources for more information on plate theory include:

  • The booklet, “This Dynamic Earth”, published by the USGS, is indispensable, providing all the background information a teacher could want and more. It can be downloaded in its entirety from the USGS website.
  • The poster and downloadable/printable handouts, “This Dynamic Planet”, provides maps and figures showing plate boundaries, volcanos, earthquake data, impact craters and more. The back of the map has excellent information on different types of boundaries, rock ages, hot spots and more. You can even download the data that was used to generate the map for further analysis.
  • The website “What on Earth is Plate Tectonics?” by the USGS and the National Parks Service. In very easy to understand language, the site walks the user through the composition of the Earth, plate tectonics theory, and Earth history in view of plate tectonics.

The list of active volcanoes, their locations, and information about each was taken from several sources. In addition to the 20 or so “most active volcanoes”, the others on the Volcano List are either famous (such as Mount Saint Helens), deadly (such as Mount Vesuvius and Mount Pelee), or are located among a string of other volcanoes (such as Mount Cleveland).

  • Latitude and longitude information was taken from This Dynamic Planet’s website.
  • The Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Program provided most of the detailed information about the volcanoes with is incredible database of photos, eruption history and other data.
  • The Space Science and Engineering Center at the University of Wisconsin – Madison provided a list of the most active volcanoes in the world and has cool satellite images of each volcano.
  • John Search, a volcano photographer, documentary maker and tour guide also lists the worlds most active volcanoes on his website with lots of excellent pictures.

For information on life along the mid-ocean ridges, see:

  • The VENTS program sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researches deep sea hydrothermal vents and submarine volcanoes.
  • The BBC “Blue Planet” has a kids area that allows you to conduct virtual explorations of the life in the deep ocean.
  • The Smithsonian recently had an exhibition called “Ocean Planet”. It’s online resources have great information about the life at the mid-ocean ridges.
  • The “Blue Planet – The Deep”, episode 2 of the extraordinary BBC television series with David Attenborough, explores the life that exists in the deepest reaches of the ocean including the mid-ocean ridges. It is perhaps the most visually enthralling introduction to mid-ocean ridges that you can find.

Grade 6
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.