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Inside the Earth - Where It's At

Do you ever feel like you are being picked-on? 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:

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.

utah state board of education This Sci-ber Text was developed by the Utah State Board of Education and Utah educators.