Saturday, October 30, 2010

Module IV - Volcanoes, Earthquakes and Tsunamis, Oh, My!

Explain - What new learning have I taken from this module?

This module was a great reminder that the forces of tectonic plate movement are huge, all around us and have tremendous impact on both environments and human societies.  The videos about hotspot volcanism and the tsunami in Lituya Bay were quite impressive.  Having been to Hawaii, Easter Island and the Galapagos Islands - all islands formed by hotspot volcanism - it was great to be reminded of how they formed.  If you'd like, check out my photo tour of hotspot volcanism post.  I've also just completed a photo tour of the Ring of Fire post.

Extend and Evaluate - How can I use this Week's resources and how useful, insightful or relevant are this module's information resources to me?

I particularly enjoyed this week's exercise with Google Earth.  I found the ruler and path maker to be very useful tools.  I also enjoyed exploring TD's resources on Alaskan volcanoes and found that that would be very useful to show my students in helping us study volcanoes and also to demonstrate the value of satellite information in geology.

I found the video about Lituya Bay to be a gripping real-life story.  It must have been an awesome and terrifying sight to see that huge wave bearing down on their little boat.  Google Earth was instrumental in bringing to light the dynamics of that little bay.  It allows you to see the fault running perpendicularly to the length of the bay and to see the "bathtub ring" created by the tsunami's devastating effects on the shoreline vegetation.

In my experience, the students really get interested in personal stories and bringing these experiences into the classroom helps them relate to the subject being studied.  In the past, I have shared my stories of having experienced the Loma Prieta (San Francisco) earthquake of 1989, having camped at the base of one of the world's most active volcanoes in Costa Rica for two weeks on a volcanic expedition and having hiked out to an active lava flow in Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii.  Watching the video on Valdez made me think about the teacher that I worked with several years ago who had grown up in Valdez and vividly remembered living through the Good Friday Earthquake as a boy.  I'm sure his students were as enthralled by his stories as I was.

Three Comments
I enjoyed Matt's blog about primary and secondary waves and using information from those wave to not only give a warning about earthquakes but to make inferences about the structure of the Earth's interior, as well.  I also particularly like his impressive entry about the history of human societies.

Ernestine's blog had some great links to pages of the USGS website.

The link to the history of the Smoot on Alison's blog was interesting and entertaining.


  1. Doug,

    I agree with you about how great this lesson was for reminding us of the power of tectonic plate movement. I often forget how many things are changed, created, and destroyed by their movement.

  2. How cool that you have been to so many "hot spots" and can share that with your students. I think students really like hearing about the places first hand, and seeing your photos helps make it much more personal.

    I agree that the ruler tools is very useful. We used it to track the migration of cranes on the map and students were amazed at how far they flew!

  3. My husband, a retired fisherman, has spent many a night in Lituya Bay and reports never once having a good night's sleep while anchored there :)