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Earthquakes and Volcanoes
This activity has students compare maps of plate tectonics with population density maps and to analyze what these maps imply about the relationship between population and seismic hazards. Students will read about and discuss the theory of plate tectonics, map the regions of the United States that are most susceptible to earthquakes and those that have volcanoes, and list the states that lie on plate boundaries. In addition, they will look at a population density map to determine if people avoid living in areas at high risk for earthquakes and volcanoes. Students will also research specific volcanoes or earthquake zones and write pretend letters to residents of these areas describing the risks. This site also contains suggestions for assessment and ideas for extending the lesson.
Intended for grade levels:
  • Intermediate (3-5)
Type of resource:
  • For the classroom:
    • Lesson plan
  • Geographical Sciences:
    • Human geography
  • Geological Sciences:
    • Geology
  • Natural hazards
Technical requirements:
No specific technical requirements, just a browser required
Cost / Copyright:
No cost
Copyright 2001 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved.
DLESE Catalog ID: DLESE-000-000-003-955
Educational standards:
  • National Science Education Standards (NSES):
    • K-4:
      • D - Earth and space science:
        • Changes in earth and sky
        • Properties of earth materials
      • F - Science in personal / social perspectives:
        • Sci. / tech. in local challenges
  • National Geography Standards:
    • Environment and society:
      • How physical systems affect human systems
    • Human systems:
      • The process, patterns, and functions of human settlement
    • Physical systems:
      • The physical processes that shape the patterns of Earth's surface
    • The world in spatial terms:
      • How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on Earth's surface
Related resources:
This resource is part of 'America's Backyard: For Educators'
Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Publisher: National Geographic Society