Surface Processes: Erosion, Weathering & Deposition

Adaptations of Cave Critters

Caves with the National Natural Landmark (NNL) designation are some of the most fascinating of the thousands of caves around the world, and each one is unique. Caves’ special features are the product of various types of rock, their geologic setting, local climate, and time. This diversity in cave environments provides unique habitats for many different species of plants, animals, and other types of organisms. Each organism has developed specialized adaptations to survive in these cave environments.

Chocolate Rock Cycle

How sweet is this activity? It’s an introduction to the rock cycle using chocolate!

Exploring Caves

An instructional unit on caves for grades K-3. Five short chapters, with follow-up activities and lessons.

Find Your Park

A park can be many different things to many different people. For many people, Canyonlands National Park is a favorite showcase of geology.

In each of the park’s districts, you can see the remarkable effects of millions of years of erosion on a landscape of sedimentary rock. The Green River has carved a channel out of rock layers deposited nearly 300 million years ago creating an open book for earth science enthusiast of all ages.

Finding Slope

Explore how the slope of land will effect water flow and life above ground in this activity from the Soil Science Society of America.

Hands-On Experiments to Test for Acid-Mine Drainage

 Click on the link below for the .pdf file of this classroom activity.

PDF icon Acid Mine Drainage

Humans and Water, Past to Present

Humans use lots of water. We need it for various activities, including agriculture, transport, washing, and recreation. Most important, we need to drink fresh water to stay alive. Today, in many regions around the world, fresh water comes straight to where we need it. But in some places, people must carry gallons of water from the closest stream, river, lake, or well to their homes.

Liquefaction

When it comes to slipping, sliding, and stability in soils, the key word is “liquefaction.”

During an event like an earthquake, liquefaction is the process by which saturated soil behaves like a liquid. This can be problematic, as a liquid soil loses structure and can cause buildings to sink, foundations to crack, and soil to slide down slopes all at once.

How does the type of soil affect how much a house will sink or shift during an earthquake? Conduct an experiment to test your ideas!

Making Caves: How Solution Caves Form

Caves form through a variety of natural processes depending on their local geology and climate. Flowing lava, melting ice, dissolving rock, and crashing waves are the major processes that form these wondrous environments. In this activity, students will observe a model of how the most common type of cave — solution caves — form.

Materials

Per student or small group:
• 4 ounces of modeling clay
• Sugar cubes (3-6 per cave)
• See-through bowl (cutting the top off a 2-liter bottle works well)
• Toothpick

Rock Pop

How can a cave form from solid rock? Most caves are found in limestone, a rock made of materials of calcium carbonate.  This rock is unusual because the solid minerals it is made of easily dissolve in weak acids.  The most common weak acid in the environment is actually water!

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