2009 and 2010 National Science Olympiad

Dynamic Planet:  Earthquakes/Volcanoes


Although I did not give the North Alabama regional exam in 2009, I am giving the 2010 Dynamic Planet exam.

Here is a list of suggested study questions.  Notice how each of these is a good "essay" question on its own, but could easily be extended to numerous short answer questions, definitions, multiple choice, etc.

Note: If you are in my region, this list does not necessarily represent what you may/may not see on the exam! Your mileage may vary.


Middle and High School Concept Ideas

1.  Can volcanic eruptions be predicted?  What ways can you think of to "predict" when a volcano might erupt?

2.  Compare the Richter and Mercalli scales for measuring earthquake intensity.

3.  What is a fault scarp?  How is it produced?

4.  What is the Circum-Pacific belt of seismic activity?

5.  Why are parts of the eastern United States considered to constitute a hazardous earthquake region?

6.  What are "hot spots," and what does this phrase have to do with the Hawaiian Islands?

7.  What is the "Moho," and what is its significance?

9.  How does plate tectonics account for mountains, volcanoes, and earthquakes?

10.  How are the "focus" and "epicenter" of an earthquake related?

11.  An earthquake is estimated to have occurred 900 miles from Chicago and 500 miles from Oklahoma City. On the map [that would be provided of course!], mark the possible location of the earthquake.


High School Concept Ideas

1.  Trace the evolution of the average global surface temperature on earth for roughly 10-15 years after a major volcanic eruption.

2.  How does volcanism fit into the theories that describe the K-T mass extinction?

3.  The ways that humans can influence the atmosphere, biosphere, and hydrosphere are pretty obvious.  What are some of the ways we might alter the geosphere?

4.  Describe the global map of lithospheric plates, recent earthquakes (of all strengths), and active volcanoes.

5.  The global distribution of large, strong earthquake events is vastly different than the distribution of smaller, weaker earthquakes.  Why is this so?

6.  Completely describe the difference between P-waves and S-waves.  How do earthquakes and their seismic waves suggest a layering of the earth's crust?

7.  Uniformitarianism is a very important geologic and scientific concept.  What does it mean?

8.  How does the theory of plate tectonics manifest itself on the earth's surface?



Good luck!