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Do you ever feel like you are being picked-on? Maybe your older brother is being mean to you, just because you are there. Your life is affected by forces outside of your control.

Natural disasters, volcano eruptions and earthquakes, in particular, seem to be random events. But a large percentage of these events occur in specific places—at tectonic plate boundaries.

The United States Geological Survey, or USGS, monitors and records all earthquakes that occur in the world. Here is a map and a list of the most recent. Even though the picture will change from week to week and month to month, and volcanoes are not included, a large majority of earthquakes will keep occurring in the same places around the globe.

 

Try it.

You are to map earthquakes and volcanoes that occurred on Earth.

Materials:

 
Safety concerns: As with all science lab activities, the most important safety rule is to follow all teacher directions.
 

Procedure:

  1. Find the longitude and latitude for each earthquake and volcano.
  2. Plot each earthquake and volcano on the map.
  3. Use different symbols or colors to represent the different earthquakes and volcanoes on the map.
  4. If you have friends doing the assignment, try having each of you map a different year - then compare maps when you finish.
 

Analysis:

When enough data is collected and mapped, patterns emerge. Those patterns will generally show the plate boundaries.

  1. How many plate boundaries were identified on your map?
  2. Which plate boundaries were most easily identified?
  3. Were there any plates whose boundaries were not identified on your map?
    • If you did not identify all plate boundaries, why do you think that happened?

If you could map every earthquake for the past 20 years, you would have this map.

 
Extension: Follow the inquiry methods in this activity to discover more plate patterns.
 
Review science lab safety rules here.

Get the plug-ins: Get Adobe Acrobat Reader and Get Quicktime Player. (The QuickTime plug-in is needed to play sounds and movies correctly.)

Want to share photos of you or your friends doing this activity? Send it in an e-mail with the following information:

  1. The title of the activity
  2. The URL (Internet address)
  3. Your name.

Remember that no pictures can be used that show student faces or student names on it. 

Teachers should view the Teacher Site Map to relate Sci-ber text and the USOE Earth Systems Science core.

 


Updated October 24, 2008 by: Glen Westbroek

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