Course Content
3 days
Physical Geology
Plate Tectonics
Seismic Waves
Science Inquiry and- Application
During the years of grades 9 through 12, all students must use the following scientific processes with appropriate laboratory safety techniques to
construct their knowledge and understanding in all science content areas:
• Identify questions and concepts that guide scientific investigations;
• Design and conduct scientific investigations;
• Use technology and mathematics to improve investigations and communications;
• Formulate and revise explanations and models using logic and evidence (critical thinking);
• Recognize and analyze explanations and models; and
• Communicate and support a scientific argument.
Looking Back
Looking Forward
This unit builds upon the middle school Earth and Space Science strand
(beginning in grade 6). Sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks are
introduced, rocks and minerals are tested and classified, plate tectonics
(including the history and evidence for plate tectonics), seismic waves and the
interior structure of Earth and the geologic record are found. In the middle
school Life Science strand, fossils and depositional environments are
included. In the physical science syllabus, support for density, convection,
conductivity, motion, kinetic energy, radiometric dating, seismic waves,
thermal energy, pressure and gravity are presented.
Content Standards
Key Ideas
Locating an earthquake
Earthquake measurement
magnitude- Richter scale
intensity- Mercalli scale
Content Elaboration
At the high school level, Earth’s interior and plate tectonics must be investigated at greater depth using models, simulations, actual seismic data,
real-time data, satellite data and remote sensing. Relationships between energy, tectonic activity levels and earthquake or volcano predictions, and
calculations to obtain the magnitude, focus and epicenter of an earthquake must be included. Evidence and data analysis is the key in
understanding this part of the Earth system. For example, GIS/GPS and/or satellite data provide data and evidence for moving plates and changing
landscapes (due to tectonic activity).
The causes for plate motion, the evidence of moving plates and the results of plate tectonics must be related to Earth’s past, present and future.
The use of evidence to support conclusions and predictions pertaining to plate motion is an important part of this unit.
Earthquakes are rare events (media coverage of earthquakes is limited and biased to U.S. area or high death tolls)
The ground cracks opens during an earthquake to swallow people and buildings (common to Hollywood movies and popular literature like 'Clan of the Cave Bear'
and Shogun', but also dates to early reports of Lisbon earthquake and confusion over landslides, etc.).
Earth shaking is deadly (as opposed to building collapse, tsunamis, landslides, fire, etc.)
Seismic waves involve the long distance net motion of particles
Seismic waves go from crust to core, but not core to crust (textbooks seldom specifically discuss second half of journey apart from a general treatment of
shadow zones).
S-waves (shear waves) do not reach other side of Earth from where earthquake originated because they cannot pass through oceans (or cannot reach islands).
Wind blowing through subterranean passages causes earthquakes (Aristotle's hypothesis, tied with older cosmology of hollow passages through earth)
Earthquakes occur from collapse of subterranean hollow spaces (tie to older cosmologies).
The biggest earthquake is a magnitude 10.
Instructional Input
Materials for Labs and Activities:
Instructional Resources: Details of materials to support instruction and learning
x Text: Modern Earth Science. Page #: Chapter 6 section 2
Safari Montage:__________________________
Graphic Organizers:
Vocabulary ____________
Manipulative: _________
Mandatory Labs:
Activities: ____ ______________________
x Other: __page 114 in text, In-depth Investigations manual pages 2934_______________________
Additional Resources
Password Protected :
Topic Outline/Objectives
Procedures: Details of the sequence of instruction
Lesson 1: Standard: PG.PT.2
Resource: Modern Earth Science, Chapter 6 section 2
Objective: Apply the method scientists use to pinpoint an earthquake.
Lesson 2: Standard: PG.PT.2
Resource: Modern Earth Science, Chapter 6 page 114-115
In-depth Investigations manual page 29-34
Objective: Apply the method scientists use to pinpoint an earthquake.
Lesson3: Standard: PG.PT.12
Resource: Modern Earth Science, Chapter 6 section 2
Objectives: Discuss the method most commonly used to measure the magnitude of earthquakes.