Thursday, October 28, 2010

Module IV: Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Tsunamis

This picture shows my husband and dog during one snowfall we experienced last year in Valdez.  This one snowfall dumped more than 5 feet of snow.  Just one snowfall!
 The picture below shows the dashboard of a plane my husband was flying in this summer in Barrow.

These images are in the same folder in my mind as images of things like throwing hot water from a pan when it's 50 below and watching it freeze before it hits the ground.  Alternately, watching my husky pant for all he's worth in the summer because it's 90 degrees outside and he's just too hot to move.  Wild insect hatches like the one in spring when little gray moths covered every inch of every surface outside and the next spring when yellow jacket nests could be seen every 10 feet down the trail around my cabin.  The folder that contains all of these images is my "Alaska is One Extreme Place to Live" file. 

Explain: What new learning have you taken from this module?
Added to that file now are ones from the TD videos this week.  I've seen pictures of the 1964 Earthquake in Valdez but now I can add images of what a strike-slip fault looks like and the shape and length of the Aleutian Trench.  My image of tsunami waves has shifted from one of giant cresting waves to a sudden mass of water filling the land and the sounds of a train or helicopter are added as well.  The 1958 Lituya Bay Tsunami is also now in that file along with a better idea of the physical landscape of the area that contributed to scope of waves.  A USGS site about historic earthquakes contained some aerial images of that tsunami that helped to form pictures of its effects.  

Having lived in Tatitlek, I knew that the Good Friday Earthquake destroyed the original Chenega village site.  I also knew that people still mourn that event each year and that many still feel its devastating effects.  What I didn't realize is that it took 20 years for the new village site to be established or that 1/3 of the population was killed in that event.  The people of Chenega showed a great measure of resiliency in reforming their village after being so far flung for so long. 

In addition to the Alaska file, is an understanding of how the Hawaiian islands were formed.  Seeing visuals from the TD video Hawaiian Archipelago helped solidify my understanding of this process.  Now it really makes sense that only the big island has active volcanoes and how the volcanoes in that chain differ from the Aleutian Chain.

Extend: How can you use this week's resources in your community and lessons?
Again, there were good interactives for kinesthetic learners like Once and Future Tsunamis and Anatomy of a Volcano.   I was just talking to a high school student last week who complained that videos often go too fast for her to be able to pick up concepts.  Being able to control the pace of interactives will be helpful for her.  Again, the visuals in these videos are essential.   Many of my students aren't visual learners and don't pick out important details in textbook diagrams, or they struggle to visualize what they are reading.  Both of these problems are alleviated through the videos and interactives from this module.  Student will be able to view these at their own pace, pause and review when needed, and link to other resources if they're not understanding a concept fully. 

The cataclysmic nature of these events holds a natural fascination for kids, and adults.  YouTube videos like the BBC Nature-Mega Tsunami put a human story to these phenomenon and will make geology more compelling to a broader audience.  Interactives like Deadly Volcanoes really illustrate the need to learn about earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes. 

The power of the Real-Time Earthquakes feature in Google Earth was illustrated this week.  I noticed the Indonesian earthquake on Monday and was sad to see the consequences of that on the news the following day.  

3 Colleagues' Blogs
I could relate to what Esther said on Explore Alaska about struggling with learning geology.  I could expand that to science concepts in general for me.  I really appreciate the fact that she shared that.  While I don't have any great advice, I can sympathize. 

I visited the Dan Adair Blog site and really appreciated getting some links aimed at elementary aged students.  One I like is Windows to the Universe from the National Earth Science Teachers Association.

I enjoy the stories from the classroom on David's website, like the Uppa's story about the river flowing backward during the 1964 Earthquake.  I'm also impressed with how quickly he's applying resources from this course to his classroom.  The cranberry picture from the last module is gorgeous and beautifully framed. 


  1. Thanks for the great pics--I'm jealous of the 5 feet of snow in one dump in Valdez last year! And the plane dashboard pic is great! Thanks for sharing these.

  2. Your statement about humans craving "cataclysmic events" could be very accurate. We often think "it won't happen to us"...

  3. I like the links and the layout of your blog. Makes it convenient to pursue additional information.

  4. Janet,

    Your depiction of AK extremes is awesome!

    Thank you for sharing the information about the Chenega village site. I had not ever heard of it before.

    Jesse Bjorkman