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Table of Contents
Introduction | Objectives | Questions | Research Links | Washington Post Article | Evaluation

This Violent Earth:

A Research Task About
Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis

a 6th Grade Science Task
at Murray Hill Middle School
Howard County, Maryland
by Shelley Heinz, Science Team Leader
Gwyneth Anne Bronwynne Jones,
Library Media/Technology Specialist

"Although it feels solid and hard beneath our feet, the outer surface of the Earth is a thin crust of fragile rock, fractured like the cracked shell of an egg. The pieces of the shell are Earth's tectonic plates -- there are 12 major ones --and they float across a layer of soft rock like rafts in a stream, their motions driven by forces generated deep in the Earth. At their boundaries, the plates spread apart, converge, and slide past one another....Hot springs spew out mineral-rich waters, volcanoes erupt, and earthquakes tremble -- resulting in devastating tsunamis, floods, and mudslides."
- Savage Earth

Students will:
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Today's task is to conduct real research on volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis by answering questions and using the research links provided below:

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Dr. Jay's Java Earthquake Simulator
"Before there were seismometers which could measure the vibration of the earth caused by earthquakes, scientists used descriptive measures of the effects of the vibration as a means of quantifying their size or severity. One of the first intensity scales was developed by the Italian scientist De Rossi and the Swiss scientist Forel, known as the Rossi-Forrel scale. In 1902 the Italian scientist Mercalli improved this scale, and in 1931 the American scientists H.O. Wood and F. Neumann adapted the scale for use in California. The scale is now known as the Modified Mercalli Intensity scale" - Dr. Jay J. Pulli
Click below to experience what it feels like to be in an earthquake!
Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale of Earthquake Damage

Research Links

Savage Earth- A PBS/WNET Production about Volcano's, Earthquakes, and Tsunamis
(some animations and graphics require QuickTime and Flash plug-ins)
PBS- Savage Earth: General Links
U.S. Geological Survey Home Page
USGS Global Change Research Program -an international source for ground-based and remotely sensed earthscience data and information used by global change researchers and contributing to assessments of the potential effects of global change on society
USGS Rocky Mountain Mapping Center

Earth: All Stressed Out - from Savage Earth
PBS - Savage Earth: Earthquake Links
Earthquake Information from the USGS

1906 San Francisco Earthquake  - From the Carnegie Report, reprinted in 1969 with photographs.
1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire - Information, statistics and archival photographs.

1906 San Francisco Earthquake  - Questions and answers from the United States Geological Survey
U.S. Geological Survey-Geologic Information
USGS National Earthquake Information Center: Earthquake Information for the World
NEIC: Near Real Time Earthquake List

Out of the Inferno: Volcanoes - Mountains of Fire
PBS- Savage Earth: Volcano Links
Volcano World -- The Premier Source of Volcano Info on the Web
USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory (CVO)
U.S. Geological Survey, Volcano Hazards Program
Alaska Volcano Observatory

Waves of Destruction: Tsunamis
PBS - Savage Earth: Tsunami Links
Search Engines

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Washington Post Article:
Fissures off Va. Coast May Presage Tsunami, Experts Say

(Reprinted with permission from Washingtonpost.Newsweek InteractiveCompany and The Washington Post)

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Violent Earth
Support, &
Clearly stated claim, 3 or more supports, conclusion restates claim Clearly stated claim, 3 supports may not be clear, conclusion restates claim. Clearly stated claim, 2 supports, conclusion may or may not restate claim. May or may not have claim (claim is weak), 1 or more support, may or may not have conclusion (conclusion is weak)
Supports Each support clearly explains the claim with elaborated details and evidence from research Each supports the claim somewhat with details from the research.  Each support explained with some reference to research. Each support is barely explained with minimal details from research.
Ideas Ideas are well expressed, in a logical manner with clear explanation. Ideas fairly well expressed, fairly good logic, with explanations. Ideas are expressed but logic and explanations are difficult to follow. Ideas are vague and connected with poor logic and few explanations.
Grammar No errors in capitalization, punctuation and spelling.  A few errors in capitalization, punctuation and spelling occur but do not interfere with meaning. Some errors in capitalization, punctuation, word usage and spelling occur but do not interfere with meaning. Some errors in capitalization, punctuation, word usage and spelling occur but do interfere with meaning.
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This page was designed in Netscape Composer 4.7 on a Macintosh, baby!
first created April 2000
last updated November 21, 2003
For more information/comments/questions feel free to contact:
Gwyneth Anne Bronwynne Jones- Library Media/Technology Specialist