Anatomy of a Volcano
Forecasting Volcanic Eruptions
Mountain Maker, Earth Shaker
Mount St. Helens: Before and After
Virtual Lava Tube
Volcanic Eruptions and Hazards
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Anyone who has witnessed a volcano erupting needs no further evidence to know that Earth is a dynamic planet. Volcanoes are one of the major mechanisms for creating new crust. They are powerful, breathtaking, and dangerous, and offer scientists an unparalleled glimpse at Earth's interior. Although the processes that form magma are not well understood, volcanoes — and the igneous rocks they produce — can be studied and explained in the context of plate tectonics. In this lesson, students investigate the processes that build volcanoes, the factors that influence different eruption types, and the threats volcanoes pose to their surrounding environments. After exploring these characteristics, students use what they have learned to identify physical features and eruption types in some real-life documented volcanic episodes.
Three to four 45-minute class periods, or two 90-minute class periods
If possible, arrange Internet access for all students to work in pairs.
Students will learn about volcanoes and then apply their knowledge by 1) exploring the physical characteristics of various types of volcanoes and 2) identifying the types of volcanoes featured in several case studies. In order to complete the lesson's objectives, students should have a basic understanding of plate tectonics, including the different types of plate boundaries.
1. Before beginning the media-based activities, divide the class into small groups (3-5 students each) and distribute a copy of the World Map Without Volcanoes PDF Image to each group. (If copies cannot be made, use a map in a textbook or one in the classroom and distribute removable dot stickers.) Mention that Hawai'i is one place that is well known for its volcanoes. Now ask the groups to list as many other states and countries as they can that have volcanoes. You may want to suggest that they think about major eruptions that have appeared in the news recently, or famous ones that have happened in history (e.g., Vesuvius and Krakatau). Next, have them mark the locations of the volcanoes on their maps. Before moving on, ask the students the following:
2. Now hand out copies of the World Map With Volcanoes PDF Image marked and have the groups look at both maps. Ask about the distribution of volcanoes, and have students hypothesize why they are where they are and why certain areas are more active than others. If there is time, have the groups share their lists and other findings with the class.
3. Ask students to explore the Volcanism HTML Interactive and record in their notebooks answers to the questions below. Students will use the recorded information in the case study activity that concludes the lesson plan. As an optional activity, have the students check out the Mountain Maker, Earth Shaker Flash Interactive to review the basics of plate tectonics.
4. Next, ask students to check out the Volcanic Eruptions and Hazards HTML Interactive and record in their notebooks answers to the following questions:
5. Now ask the students to look at the dynamic landforms and features in the Anatomy of a Volcano Flash Interactive and Volcanic Features HTML Interactive . Have them write down the following vocabulary list of features and describe each one: lava, tephra, lava lake, vent, fissure, dike, magma, caldera, crater, geyser, spring, `a`a flow, pahoehoe flow, and lava tubes. As an additional, optional activity, ask students to explore the Virtual Lava Tube Flash Interactive and address the following questions using the resource:
6. Volcanoes vary greatly in terms of the composition and temperature of the magma they produce, and these characteristics affect how they will erupt. Scientists study lava, fresh from Earth's mantle, to learn more about the inner workings of volcanoes. The Lava Sampling on Kilauea Volcano, Hawaiʻi QuickTime Video demonstrates the simple, yet risky, technique one researcher uses to access lava just as it reaches Earth's surface. Show this video to the class, or have them watch it on their own computers, and ask them to answer the following questions in their notebooks:
You can continue this line of volcanic study by showing the Dating Lava Flows on Mauna Loa Volcano, Hawaiʻi QuickTime Video , which provides further insight into the Hawaiian volcanoes and describes the effective method one scientist has found of dating prehistoric lava flows.
Ask the students to view the Mount Pinatubo: Predicting a Volcanic Eruption QuickTime Video and the Mount Pinatubo: The Aftermath of a Volcanic Eruption QuickTime Video . Using the notes they have taken during the lesson, have them answer the following questions in their notebooks. Engage them in a class discussion before proceeding to the next case study.
Ask the students to think about what might make predicting a volcanic eruption difficult and what problems might result from inaccurate (false-positive or false-negative) predictions. Have them record their ideas in their notebooks and then explore the Forecasting Volcanic Eruptions HTML Interactive . When they're finished, have them consider their previous notebook entries and ask them to record their answers to the following questions. Engage them in a class discussion before proceeding to the next case study.
Next, have students view the Plate Tectonics: The Hawaiian Archipelago QuickTime Video and respond to the following questions. Again, engage them in a class discussion before proceeding to the next case study.
Mount St. Helens
Finally, have students view the Mount St. Helens: Before and After Flash Interactive and respond to the following questions. Discuss their responses.
Have students discuss the following:
The Digital Library for Earth System Education (www.dlese.org) offers access to additional resources on this topic.