Planet Earth

Scientific breakthroughs and new technologies have proven a tremendous asset in helping us to explore and learn more about Planet Earth. Satellites, robot space probes, manned undersea vehicles, computer enhanced imagery-all these have inspired theories about how our planet was created, the dynamics at work shaping it today, and the role we play-for good or ill-as shapers of the Earth's destiny.


Places To Go    People To See    Things To Do    Teacher Resources    Bibliography

Places To Go

15 Most Beautiful Crater Lakes On Earth
About 80% of the surface of the earth was formed by lava flowing from volcanos. When the top of a volcano collapses, the crater that is surrounded by high walls is called a caldera. When these calderas fill with rainwater, they are called crater lakes.
A Geologist's Lifetime Field List
This web site contains a list of essential or desirable locations for geologists or travelers interested in geology to visit. It contains many of the interesting geological wonders of the world, with links for most of them. Although the site's organization is wanting, many of the images are breathtaking.
Caspian Sea
Visit the Caspian Sea. It’s really a lake—not a sea. It is the world’s largest saltwater lake. Part of this lake lies in Europe, and part lies in Asia and it covers over 149,000 square miles.
Coral Reef Ecosystems
Visit a coral reef. They can mostly only grow in shallow water because they need a hard seabed surface to establish themselves on. That is why most worldwide coral reefs grow along the edges of continents where they are called barrier reefs or along the edges of islands where they are called fringing reefs.
The Driest Place on Earth
Travel to the Atacama Desert in Chile. It is one of the driest places on earth. It only rains there about once every six years.
Frequently Asked Questions about Aurora and Answers
Travel to the far north and watch the aurora borealis. It is one of the wonders of planet earth. This fantastical night show takes place in the part of the atmosphere called the ionosphere. It is caused by the shock of electrons from solar emissions colliding with gas molecules from the upper layers of the earth’s atmosphere. In the southern hemisphere, this phenomenon is called the aurora australis.
Geoscapes Photography Gallery
View beautiful photographs documenting the geologic and natural history landscapes of the western United States and Pacific islands. This web site illustrates the beauty of western geologic landscapes.
How Quicksand Works
Quicksand is simply sand that has so much water between its particles that it becomes loose and slippery. When waterlogged sand can no longer support weight, it is said to be quick. Dirt, silt, pebbles, and gravel can also occasionally become quick. Materials that are not quick use friction to stop themselves from sliding against each other. When too much water squeezes between particles, friction disappears, and once-solid materials liquefy.
Lake Superior
Travel to Lake Superior, one of the largest bodies of fresh water on the earth. The Great Lakes and their connecting rivers make up the largest freshwater system on planet Earth. These 5 lakes contain 20% of the world’s fresh water. Lake Baikal in Russia is planet Earth’s largest freshwater lake by volume. It is smaller than Lake Superior in physical size but also contains 20% of the earth’s fresh water.
Mariana Trench
Travel to the Mariana trench in the Pacific Ocean. The earth is made up of about 20 giant slabs called tectonic plates which are in constant motion. When a plate under the ocean is somewhat beneath another plate, it creates a trench in the ocean floor. The Mariana trench is planet Earth’s deepest trench at over 35,000 feet deep.
Plate Tectonics - Pangaea Continent Maps
Virtually visit Pangaea. It is thought that all 7 continents were once joined together in large land mass or supercontinent. Over the eons, pieces of land broke off and drifted off to become continents. Pangaea means “all lands”. The ocean that surrounded Pangea was called Panthalassa.
Ring of Fire
Travel to the Ring of Fire. The Ring of Fire roughly rims the Pacific Ocean and consists of areas where the earth’s tectonic plates slide into ocean trenches and cause frequent volcanic activity and earthquakes.
Savage Earth
This online companion to the PBS series tells the stories of these great natural disasters, the scientists who struggle to understand and predict them, and the people whose lives are forever changed by their merciless force. 
USGS General Interest Geology Info
This site contains a collection of general interest publications. Short, illustrated articles explaining common landforms, rocks, geological issues, and other phenomenon that most of us live with, but know little about. This site provides great background for physical and environmental science classes and projects.
Volcano World
Learn general information about volcanoes and track current volcanic activity at this site which is the Web's premier source of volcano information.
Why the Earth Shakes: Seismic Science
This online feature on earthquakes from the Exploratorium Museum explains what causes earthquakes. It also provides information on measuring and predicting earthquakes.

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People To See

Ask a Geologist
Ever have a question about geology? This friendly site allows users to pose earth science questions to a geologist.
Australia's Best Meteorite Craters
Talk to people in Australia. They have a lots of craters formed from meteorites in their little portion of planet earth.
Being a Geologist
American Museum of Natural History presents a geologist who talks about the Earth and his work.
Chambers of Enchantment
Meet James Larkin White. He was the cowboy who discovered a system of caves near Carlsbad, New Mexico. It is now called Carlsbad Caverns and is one of the largest cave systems in the world. In 1898, when he was a teenage boy, he saw some smoke coming out of the ground. When he got closer and looked further, he saw that the “smoke” was millions of bats flying out of the cave.
Famous American Earth Scientists
Check out this hotlist of links providing background information about various American earth scientists.
Meteor FAQs
Get to know people who collect meteorites. The layers of the atmosphere are troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, and exosphere. The thermosphere is the warmest layer because it absorbs the sun’s rays. This is the layer that burns up the millions of meteorites that enter the earth’s atmosphere each day. When seen at night, burning meteorites are called shooting stars.
Get to know the people who live in Monaco. It is the most densely populated country on earth. This principality is about the size of Central Park and has a population of more than 32,000 people.
What Are Some Ways to Stop Smog?
Spend time with scientists who want to solve the problem of smog on Planet Earth. Smog is fog combined with smoke and other pollutants. The burning of fossil fuels like coal creates huge amounts of smoke.
Which God Carried the World on His Shoulders?
Who knows more about the earth than Atlas? He carries the earth on his back! Long ago, Atlas, who was a Titan, had a dispute with Zeus. As a punishment, Zeus decreed that Atlas must forever hold the earth and the sky on his back.
Wild Utah Scenery
Spend some time with the designer of this website that is devoted to Utah’s small portion of planet Earth. He has photographed many of the wonderful parts of our pretty, great state.

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Things To Do

Atlantis - True Story or Cautionary Tale?
Did planet earth once have a chunk of land called Atlantis? There are many theories about this lost continent/country/island.
Berkeley's Geology Wing
Journey through the history of the Earth, with stops at particular points in time. You might wish to start in the Cenozoic Era (65 million years ago to the present) and work back through time, or start with Hadean time (4.5 to 3.8 billion years ago) and journey forward to the present day.
Earth's Journal
Check out this interesting Planet Earth Diary. It is updated weekly and contains information about the “hot spots” on planet Earth where fascinating things are happening.
How Far Is It?
Calculate distrance between different places on planet earth. This website is sponsored by a company promoting travel in Bali and Indonesia. However, you can scroll down and enter wordwide destinations to calculate the distance between them. For instance it is 8,009 miles from Salt Lake City, Utah to Sydney Australia as the crow flies. It is 4,272 miles from Salt Lake City, Utah to Lima, Peru.
Our Dynamic Earth
View the Dynamic Earth Virtual Tour that takes you on a fascinating, ever-changing journey around planet Earth. Travel back through time to witness the Big Bang; experience earthquakes, ice ages and tropical rainstorms; travel to the depths of the oceans and fly high above towering glaciers and mountains.
The Virtual Cave
Grab your mouse and have fun exploring the wonders of the underground with this fieldtrip into caves.

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Teacher Resources

Lesson Plan

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  • Anderson, Alan and Gwen Diehn, Terry Krautwurst. Geology Crafts for Kids: 50 Nifty Projects to Explore the Marvels of Planet Earth. Sterling Publications, 1998.
  • Blobaum, Cindy and Michael P. Kline. Geology Rocks!: 50 Hands-On Activities to Explore the Earth. Williamson Publishing, 1999.
  • Cole, Joanna and Bruce Degen. Magic School Bus: Inside the Earth. Scholastic, 1989.
  • Delafosse, Claude et al. Caves: Hidden World. Scholastic, 2000.
  • Gans, Roma and Holly Keller. Let's Go Rock Collecting. Harpercollins, 1997.
  • Hooper, Meredith and Chris Coady. The Pebble in My Pocket: A History of Our Earth. Viking Children's Books, 1996.
  • Sattler, Helen Roney and Giulio Maestro. Our Patchwork Planet: The Story of Plate Tectonics. Lothrop Lee & Shepard, 1995.
  • Simon, Seymour. Volcanoes. Mulberry Books, 1995.
  • Vancleave, Janice Pratt. Earth Science for Every Kid: 101 Easy Experiments That Really Work. John Wiley & Sons, 1991.