Volcano Discussion Forum

Assignment One


Volcano Discussion Forum

The Prompt – Read All of this at least twice!!


Oh No! Mt. Rainier has erupted with an explosive force ten times that of the 1980 Mt. St. Helens eruption, so this is a big one and you are a news reporter based in Tacoma, Washington. Your specialty is science and you’re really talented at explaining science news to the public. Your editor wants an article on the eruption that not only tells what is happening, but explains why it is happening. Get to work!

Your editor wants you to cover at least the following list, but he expects you to do a lot of research on your own, cite your sources, and have a great article ready to go for tomorrow’s paper. Your editor is giving you the front page so this should be a substantial news report with lots of details, background info, room for a map and pictures…..

  • Were there any precursers to the eruption, what were they and why were they happening?
  • What’s the eruptive history of Mt. Ranier?
  • What is the tectonic setting of the volcano and how does this affect the type of explosion that is occurring?
  • Describe the type of eruption that occurred and what type of materials were ejected.
  • Describe other hazards caused by the eruption such as mud flows….
  • Describe how the surrounding area is being affected and what the emergency response is.
  • Interview a local volcanologist and include a few quotes from her.
  • You’re trying to educate the public, so use those geological terms but explain what they mean.

Grading Notes

All of the information in your news report should be well-researched and factually accurate to a real life eruption at Mt. Rainier ten times as large as the Mt. St. Helens eruption (don’t know how big this one was… look it up!). The eruptive style should match what scientists think would happen here. Section 6.14 in your Reynolds book should help you get started, but you’ll need to do additional research on your own. CITE all of your sources!!!!


You should complete this assignment in Microsoft Word! You can then copy and paste it into the DB or attach it as a file. The very best articles will look and read like a real news article.

Assignment Two


Geologic Timescale Assignment




To better understand the concept of geologic time, your assignment is to produce a time-scale illustration that is true to scale and reflects some of the important events in the history of the earth (see list below-you only have to put the events in boldface on your illustration). The exercise requires that you produce an illustration to share with the class on our discussion board and that you write a short essay that: (1) discusses why you chose the metaphor you used; (2) shows an example of one of your math calculations; and (3) discusses what you learned from this exercise including your perspective of where humans fit in the grand scheme of things. Have fun! Be creative! No Illustration is too silly, as long as your math is correct and your choice has meaning to you. Your instructor appreciates unusual and distinctive efforts.  However, if you’re not feeling very creative on this one, just pick a simple approach and do a neat, accurate job.  Don’t get hung up obsessing over your approach, pick something that works for you and do it.  Remember that you are trying to convey a sense of Earth’s entire history with an illustration so neatness counts, color coding is helpful, pictures are also useful.  Email me with any questions that you have.


Posting your Work


You can produce your illustration in any way that you choose.  It can be a Word document, scan of a hand drawn picture, graphic design, video, photograph…. Whatever best shows your work.  It does need to be easily visible and clear so that your fellow students and your instructor can clearly see your work.  You can attach it to your thread or embed it in your essay.


How To

The method used to determine a true-to-scale illustration will be similar for all choices. Units in the illustration can be in time, distance, volume, mass, etc. depending upon what type of illustration you choose to work with. The general equation used to generate numbers in your illustration which will be true to scale is:

Known age of past event (years before present     =                Your time scale illustration equivalent unknown (x)

Known age of the earth (years before present            Your illustration’s max measurement (time, distance, volume, mass, etc..)

For example, suppose your illustration uses distance as its “guiding light.” Remember, the use of time, volume, or mass in an illustration would be just dandy. Since we are using a distance illustration as an example here, a football field with a length of 100 yds will do just fine. To find where on the football field, let’s say, the “first oxygen” yard mark would be, you would set up the ratio shown below and solve for X:


2,700,000,000 (Age of Oxygen Buildup)   =   Distance (x) from the 0  yard line             = 58.7 yds (from 0 yard line)

4,600,000,000 (Age of Earth)                            100 yds (Length of Football Field)


HINT:  Divide 2,700,000,000 by 4,600,000,000 then multiply by 100 to solve for X.

The “build up of oxygen” location on the football field would be (X) yards away from the goal line of your choice! (The example above assumes that the 0 yard line is the present day and the 100 yd line is the beginning of earth history.)




Here is a great example of this concept from the University of Saskatchewan.  Your illustration will have more dates than this simplified one.

Citation:  University of Saskatchewan (http://homepage.usask.ca/~mjr347/prog/geoe118/geoe118.043.html)





I don’t usually cite Wikipedia, but I found their article on the geologic timescale to be very good.  They also have some illustration examples that might help you get started.  Here is the citation:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geologic_time_scale


Below is a very condensed table of events in our long Earth history.  There is a lot more to our history that is covered in your textbook.  You only have to use the events in bold on your illustration!


Years before present



Modern man


Neanderthal man


First use of fire


Homo erectus


Linking of North and South America


Oldest stone tools


Beginning of Quaternary period (end Tertiary/Neogene)


Australopithecus (early hominids)


Beginning of Antarctic ice caps


First evidence of ice at the poles


Collision of India with Asia


Start of global cooling (to present day)


Early horses


Separation of Australia and Antarctica


Early primates


Alps form


Beginning of Tertiary/Paleogene period (recent life)


Dinosaurs became extinct


Rocky Mountains form


Cretaceous Period begins (Jurassic ends)


Early flowering plants


Early birds and mammals


Opening of Atlantic Ocean


Jurassic Period begins (end Triassic)


First dinosaurs


Triassic Period begins


Final assembly of Pangaea


Early trees, formation of coal deposits


First reptiles


Beginning of Carboniferous/Mississippian period (end Devonian)


First insects


Early land plants


Early fish


Beginning of Ordovician period (end Cambrian)


Early shelled organisms


Beginning of Cambrian period (end of Precambrian time) – rise of multicellular organisms


Beginning of Paleozoic (ancient life) Era


Early multi-celled organisms


Breakup of early supercontinent


First known animals


Formation of early supercontinent (Rodinia)


Buildup of free oxygen in atmosphere


Early bacteria & algae


Oldest known Earth rocks


Formation of Earth’s atmosphere


Formation of the Moon


Precambrian time begins


Origin of earth





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