Week of January 9-13 – Weathering and Erosion & The Rock Cycle


 National Park Projects Due Tuesday  Jan 17

Interactive Rock Cycle Assignment Due Monday Jan 23

Geology Unit Exam – Thursday Jan 26


Study Guide in Classroom Notes Link —>


 Remember for the Projects –

You Are Telling a Story, Not Just the Facts! 

Show What You Know!


In class we will watch the following video on Weathering and Erosion, with a Worksheet.


Weathering and erosion shape the world that is around us. Watch and listen as Zoe and RJ from the StudyJams Crew explain the science behind weathering and erosion.

Now go to the link Weathering and Erosion to complete the handout given in class…

Weathering and Erosion

If you complete this, check out

The Rock Cycle

Processes at Earth’s surface and heat within Earth cause rocks to change into other types of rocks.
Rock Cycle Diagram II

All rock started as magma. The rock cycle started with the cooling of the earth’s magma billions of years ago.  But after that, it has no end. Rather, it is an ongoing cycle in which rock — driven by tectonic processes such as volcanoes and earthquakes, the surface processes of weathering and erosion, and compaction — is created and destroyed.

For this assignment, you will go to the following web site:

Interactives – The Rock Cycle

Interactives Rock Cycle

Directions for the Assignment:

  • Open the Interactives Rock Cycle in a different window.

This interactive web site will help you to review the types of rocks and the processes that occur within the rock cycle.  Instructions given on the web site will lead you through the different sections of material.

The tutorial will review the three rock families and provide you with a list of key characteristics that can be used to place samples within the three rock families.

In this part of the tutorial, when you click on the rock sample, you will be provided with the name of the rock as well as information on how the rock forms and where it can be found.  Make sure to add the rocks to your collection.

  • The next section, “Identify Rock Types”, will allow you to test your ability to recognize rock characteristics and types.  Note: this section is timed (six minutes…more than enough time to complete the activity).
  • When you have completed this self-test, go on to the next section, which describes How Rocks Change.  Be sure to view the animation sequences provided for each rock family!
  • At the end of this section, complete the self-test Transform the Rock to see if you can identify the processes that can change rocks from type to another.

This self-test is timed (six minutes); to complete the sequence, click and drag your answer into the appropriate box.

  • The next section describes the rock cycle and also includes a self-test Complete the Rock Cycle to see if you can name the different parts of the rock cycle.
  • The final activity at the web site is a Test Your Skills assessment to see how much you have learned.

Enter your first and last name in the space provided.  When you have completed the assessment, print out your results. Make sure that you print out the complete results.  Do not just print your score.  You must show your teacher the printout with all of the graded questions to get credit.

This will then become your Study Sheet!

Alternate Assignment:    Rocky’s Journey

Rock Cycle Alternate Assignment

You are now a well-educated geologic student of The Rock Cycle!

Fun Activity:  Rock Cycle Study Jams

Rock Cycle Study Jams Picture

Week of January 3 Mountain Building and Volcanoes

The Formation of a Volcano

(Not necessary to know all the technical terms – just our vocabulary:  pyroclastic flow, geysers and acid rain)

Mountains and Mountain Building

Check out these games:

Structure of a Volcano

Identify and Label the Mountains

Natural Disasters

This week we are studying the three processes of Mountain Building. Mountain building is a very slow process that can take many thousands and even millions of years. Over this time many earthquakes will occur, slowing changing the shape of the land to create a mountain in one of three ways:

  • Folding, creating Folded Mountains

  • Faulting, creating Fault-Block Mountains

  • Volcanic Activity – creating a volcano or a dome mountain

Folded mountains are caused by compression stresses and reverse faults, causing a slow uplift of earth’s crust and rocks. These usually occur along plate boundaries where two plates are converging. The process is similar to pushing a carpet lying on a floor up against a wall to form.  The Himalayas in Asia, the Alps in Europe, the Andes  in South America and the Appalachian Mountains of the US  are good examples of Folded Mountains. Interesting national parks would be the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee/North Carolina.

Folding of a Mountain
Folding of a Mountain
Fault-block mountains are created where the crust may be stretched apart by tension stresses.  Cracks in the Earth’s surface are formed by normal faults, which can result in the  formation of fault-block mountains.  If there are two parallel faults, the crustal block between them may either rise to form a fault-block mountain or fall to produce a rift valley. Examples are the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and the Great Rift Valley in Africa.
Fault-Block Mountain Building
Volcanic Activity -These mountains form when plate activity allow magma to rise up through the earth’s crust and erupt on the surface. This can create a mountain of lava (magma outside the crust) and ash that can form very tall mountain peaks called volcanoes. The mountain peaks of the Pacific Northwest, such as in Mount Rainier National Park and in North Cascades National Park, as well as  Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska,  are examples of volcanic mountains.
Volcano Building
Sometimes the magma in the crust simply pushes an area of the crust up into a dome shape. The crust doesn’t snap and break, but rather it swells upward as a bump on the crust’s surface. This is called a Dome Mountain. Examples of these  would be  Yosemite National Park in California and the Adirondacks of New York.
Dome Building
Mountains Summary Chart

Week of December 5 thru Dec 21 Earthquakes and Seismic Waves


Monday Dec. 19

Make Your Index Card


Click on the picture below to see an animation of how a seismograph works.

What shakes, and what doesn’t?

How a Seismograph Works

Click on the picture below to see


Chapter 2 Seismograph Animation Picture


 Movement of body waves away from the focus of the earthquake. The epicenter is the location on the surface directly above the earthquake's focus.

Earthquakes are a form of wave energy that is transferred through the crust. Motion is transmitted from the point of sudden energy release, the focus, as seismic waves that travel in all directions outward. The point on the Earth’s surface directly above the focus is termed the epicenter.


                                                                            SEISMIC WAVES AND THE SLINKY

The Slinky P-Wave and the S-Wave


P-waves or primary waves are formed by the alternating compression and expansion of the crust. They are the first to arrive at a seismograph station, and travel in a straight line. Think of the slinky we did in class! P-waves also have the ability to travel through solid, liquid, and gaseous materials.


Model of the Primary Wave

S-waves or secondary waves are formed by the side-to-side movement of the crust. They are the second to arrive at a seismograph station, and travel more slowly. Think again of the side-to-side slinky we did in class, or look at the example below.

s wave

  • S-waves have the ability to travel through solids, but stop at liquid and gaseous materials.
  1. What does that mean as the waves travel through the earth’s layers?
  2. What happens at the Outer Core?
  3. What does this help geologists to know about the Outer Core?



Surface waves are something like the waves in a body of water — they move the surface of the earth up and down. This generally causes the worst damage because the wave motion rocks the foundations of manmade structures. Surface waves are the slowest moving of all waves, so the most intense shaking usually comes at the end of an earthquake.

Plotting Earthquakes Online Assignment

Online Assignment

Due Friday December 9

Plotting Earthquakes Logo

USGS Recent Earthquake Map


1. Go to the USGS – Earthquake Center Website, this shows all the activity for the past 7 days. Find yesterday’s earthquake data. Click on the map above, or the link above, to open that web site.

2. Choose 3 different earthquake locations, with magnitudes of 3.0 or higher, and plot them on the map provided using a colored pencil.

3. Each date will be a different color, for example 11/24/16= red, 11/25/16= blue, etc…  On your map, create a key to indicate when those earthquakes occurred.

4. Continue until you have 5 days plotted on your map (25 data points total).

You will find the earthquakes for each day this week, record the earthquake data, and then plot the location of the earthquake on the map you received in class.  By the end of the week you will have all 5 charts completed. 

We will use the information from the chart, and what we had discussed in class, for a WORM activity on Monday, December 12.

If you cannot find your map, click on the map below for another copy.

If you cannot find your worksheet, click here for another copy.

You may also use an APP that you find for your Smart Phone or Tablet. Look for “Earthquakes” apps that provide real time data.

Plotting Earthquakes Map

Have Fun!

Alternate Assignment:

Click on the picture below to take you to

My Schoolhouse.

My Schoolhouse

Read the article and complete the answers on the screen.

Keep trying until you get 8/8 correct!

When you get them all correct, print out the page that looks like the picture below, or complete the worksheet from class.

Earthquakes Modified Completion

In class this week we will look at the movement of the Earth’s crust along a crack in the crust called a fault. The earth slips, slides or drops along these faults depending on the stress involved, and the direction of movement. We discussed three types of stress – tension, compression and shearing.






Click on the picture above to see the animations of the Fault Motions. Think and answer the following questions:

Along what type of plate boundary might you find COMPRESSION stress? _________________

Along what type of plate boundary might you find TENSION stress?

Along what type of plate boundary might you find SHEARING stress? _________________

Week of November 28 Introduction to Earthquakes

November 29 Cow Book Assignment

Earthquake Destruction

Watch the video above on Earthquake Destruction. There are several ideas and concepts that are presented for which you should be taking notes.

  • List two things you learned in the film.

The film talks about earthquakes being ‘a creative force’.

  • What does the narrator mean by this?
  • Explain this comment.


We are also looking at the relationships between Plate Movement, Stress and Types of Faults we find on the earth. These faults cause the ground to move in different ways during an earthquake.  Click on the animation below to see how these stresses and faults are related.


Week of November 7 Theory of Plate Tectonics


                             Excellent Video Summary for Chapter Exam


Look at this video for a Quick Summary 

                  • Click HERE for the Worksheet with the Lyrics
                  • Watch the Video and Complete the Lyrics

“Pangaea’s Moving Farther Apart Again”


(Credit to Mr. Parr – creator of many YouTube Videos for students)

Convection Currents in the Earth

As we were studying Continental Drift, we learned that although Alfred Wegener had a great theory, he was not able to explain HOW the continents moved.  About 60 years later geologists started to look at the ocean floor, and they discovered that the ocean had a very long range of mountains which they called the Mid-Ocean Ridge.  Scientists also learned more about what was happening in the mantle, and found that the heat of the core was creating Convection Currents n the mantle.

The tectonic plates rest on the asthenosphere, a layer of soft rock.  Rock in the asthenosphere and in the rest of the mantle moves from convection.

Convection is energy transfer by movement of a material.  Heat causes material to become less dense – it then rises, cools, becomes denser and then sinks, only to repeat again.  In a pot of boiling water, the water gets heated at the bottom, rises to the top, cools when it hits the air, and then sinks again, forming a looped current.

Click on the picture to see the animation.Convection Currents

The core of the earth makes the heat.  It causes the molten material in the mantle to rise, cool and then sink back to the center, where it gets heated again. Notice how the convection currents in the earth are all around the mantle, heated by the core.

Convection in the Mantle

The lithosphere is broken into tectonic plates, and these float on the asthenosphere.  As the convection currents flow, the floating plates also move, very slowly, about an inch a year.  This is what caused the continents to move!  Look closely at the diagram, and then clink on the link below to see the movement.

Convection Current Animation

As you can see by the animation, the convection currents in the mantle make the plates in the lithosphere move.  Some of them move together to collide at a CONVERGENT BOUNDARY to form mountains, and some of them move apart at a DIVERGENT BOUNDARY to form cracks in the crust.  Magma comes up through these cracks, creating a Mid-Ocean Ridge on the sea floor.

Click on the link below to see how new ocean crust is being made at the Mid-ocean Ridge, and that the new crust is pushing the older crust away.  The farther you go from the ridge, the older the crust is.  This is one way that scientists can prove that the plates are actually moving!

Sea Floor Spreading Animation - Click to see the animated movement of the ocean floor.

Click on the picture above to see the animation.

In class we then took notes on the Smartboard to review the convection currents in the mantle, their effect on the plates of the lithosphere, and we had an introduction to DIVERGENT and CONVERGENT boundaries.  The plates move because of the convection currents in the asthenosphere (mantle) forcing the plates to flow with the current.

Convection Current Diagram

Divergent Boundary and the Mid Ocean Ridge

Khan Academy Video on Divergent Boundaries

Convergent Boundary - Ocean and Continental Crust

Khan Academy Video on Convergent Boundaries

As a result, the Earth is broken into many


Tectonic Plates.

Convergent Boundary Collisions - What happens?

Look at the types of convergent boundaries above….what happens at each of these collisions?

Can you name the features that are formed with the types of collision





Click on the picture below to see the animation we used in class.

Tectonic Plate Animations

Week of October 31 Continental Drift



We ended last week with a review of the layers of the earth, and used diagrams on the SmartBoard to identify the various layers and their key features.    Below are the screen captures of the SmartBoard activity for those of you that missed the class.  We also discussed the two type of crust, CONTINENTAL and OCEANIC, and the characteristics of each.  Continental crust is much thicker than the oceanic crust, and is made of GRANITE.   Ocean crust is thin, much denser, which is why it is lower on the earth’s surface, and is made of BASALT rock.

Smartboard Layers of Earth Diagram

Smartboard Kinds of Crust Diagram


This week we begin a discussion of the evidence that geologist Alfred Wegener developed to support the Theory of Continental Driftthat all the continents were at one time connected into one large land mass called Pangaea.  We made cut-out maps of Pangaea and then identified where Wegener discovered similar fossils, land formations, (such as mountains) and evidence of climate changes in glacial scratches and areas of coal.  We drew them on the SmartBoard diagrams and colored the areas where he found his evidence.  Unfortunately, Wegener was not able to convince the scientists of his day that the continents had actually moved!  See the diagram below for the three main pieces of evidence that Wegener used to develop his theory.

Smartboard Pangaea Diagram

Why did not scientists believe that the continents had moved?

What was missing from Alfred Wegener’s Theory of Continental Drift?

What was the missing piece?


 An animation of the breakup of Pangaea to form the world we know today!

Enjoy this Music video from Mr. Parr,

a Science teacher who loves music!


To see a video of the changing earth continents and shapes, click here

tectonoc Plate animation Cambridge

Week of October 17 Layers of the Earth

earth-layers-27140980This week we begin our study of the

Layers of the Earth.

Earth has several layers.  Many geologists believe that as the Earth cooled the heavier, denser materials sank to the center and the lighter materials rose to the top. Because of this, the crust is made of the lightest materials (rock- basalts and granites) and the core consists of heavy metals (nickel and iron).

The Inner Core is a solid sphere of metal, mainly nickel and iron, at Earth’s center. The Outer Core is a layer of molten metal, also mainly nickel and iron that surrounds Earth’s inner core. The Mantle is the layer of rock between Earth’s outer core and crust, in which most rock is hot enough to flow in convection currents.  It is also Earth’s thickest layer.  The Crust is a thin outer layer of rock above a planet’s mantle, including all dry land and ocean basins. Earth’s continental crust is 40 kilometers thick on average and oceanic crust is 7 kilometers thick on average.

The Lithosphere is the layer of Earth made up of the crust and the rigid rock of the upper mantle, averaging about 40 kilometers thick and broken into tectonic plates. It is cracked, and makes up the Tectonic Plates of the earth’s surface.  Tectonic Plates are  large, moving pieces into which Earth’s lithosphere is broken and which commonly carries both oceanic and continental crust.  Look at the diagram below to see the various layers.

Layers of the Earth

The Asthenosphere is the layer in Earth’s upper mantle and directly under the lithosphere in which rock is soft and weak because it is close to melting.  The lithosphere ‘floats’ on the asthenosphere.

Notes we took in class on the SmartBoard!

















Click on the picture below to take you to an interactive animation describing


Earth’s Structure!

Click on the pics below to look at the animations we used in class.

See the Layers of the Earth in Detail

 See How Geologists Study the Inside of the Earth.