Course Icon

Natural Science - Year II

Unit 41: Using Geologic Activity to Map Continental Plates

SO Icon

Lab Assignment for Unit 41

This Unit's Homework Page History Lecture Science Lecture Lab Parents' Notes

Unit 41 Laboratory Activity: Mapping Tectonic Activity

Goal: Using historical information to map volcanic and earthquake activity.

Historical surveys are a valid scientific method for data gathering, especially when the events we want to observed cannot be controlled or produced on demand in a laboratory.

Equipment and Materials:


  1. Do some preliminary research and find a good source of information with dates, magnitudes, and locations for seismic events like earthquakes or volcanic eruptions.
  2. Determine the class of event you will gather data on. You can limit your search to events within a certain time period, either volcanic or earthquake or both, or events of a certain magnitude. Do not limit yourself by geographic area, however!
  3. Using several sources, find all of the incidents that fit the class you are studying. For example, if you decide to look at volcanic eruptions within the last 35 years, try to find lists that will give you as much information for all volcanic eruptions world-wide in that period.
  4. Map the location of each event on a world map. Identify each event by some key (for example, number the location dots), and explain the event in a list.
  5. Is there a pattern to your events? Are they clustered in one area? Do they fit along any of the known tectonic plates?
  6. Are there "exceptions" -- events that are not on a plate edge or in some other expected region? How would you explain these events? Do they confirm or confute plate tectonic theories?