Earth's Systems

Mineral Identification

Learn the characteristics of difference kinds of minerals in this hands on investigative activity.

Model of a Normal Fault

A normal fault occurs when rocks break and move because they are being pulled apart. As the area is stretched, the rocks move along the fault. Each movement causes an earthquake. This model demonstrates how a block of rock is extended by a normal fault.

Model of a Well

Groundwater is contained in the zone of saturation below the land surface. The top of this zone is known as the water table. People can tap into this source of water by drilling wells. The depth of the well and level of the water table greatly influences the wells productivity. In this activity you will demonstrate the relationship of groundwater to wells.

Modeling an Oil Reserve

Abundant oil and natural gas form only where conditions in the Earth are just right. Doing this investigation will help you understand how geoscientists identify and explore petroleum-rich reserves.

Modeling Earthquake Waves

An earthquake occurs when massive rock layers slide past each other. This motion makes enormous vibrations, which travel from the site of the earthquake in waves. In this activity, you will model how earthquakes move in three dimensions.

Monitoring Life in the Rocky Intertidal Ecosystem

The five national marine sanctuaries along the West Coast monitor the health of the rocky intertidal ecosystem. One way of doing this is to collect data on the relative abundance of the organisms living in that ecosystem. Since this is such a big task, the national marine sanctuaries are training students in how to follow standardized protocols to help with the monitoring. The information collected is added to an online database that the sanctuaries use to collect baseline data and track long-term changes in the environment. This activity will allow you to learn the sampling techniques used in the field by these citizen scientists who participate in LiMPETS.

Natural Gas Formation

Natural gas, which is mostly methane, is an energy resource used for generating electricity and heating, powering transportation, and manufacturing products. Right now, one-quarter of the world’s energy comes from natural gas. In this investigation, you will make a simple model of how gases can form from decaying material. You will also explore the effects of temperature on gas formation.

Ocean Acidification

The ocean is a “carbon sink,” which means that it removes CO2 (carbon dioxide) from the atmosphere. The ocean currently absorbs about one-third of the CO2 released by the burning of fossil fuels.

However, beyond a certain level of atmospheric CO2, the ocean can no longer act as a carbon sink without it having a negative impact on marine life. When CO2 dissolves in seawater, it leads to decreased pH levels. The ocean becomes less alkaline. This is referred to as ocean acidification.

Ocean Currents

In this activity, students will learn the pattern of major ocean currents and how they are changed by wind, land and water.

Oil Trap Model

Discuss how a 3-D model illustrates the geology of oil deposits. What challenges do you think petroleum geologists must overcome to recover oil?

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