The Mountain Blows its Top

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Resource Type:Classroom Activities; Curricula and Instruction
Grade Level:
5 6 7 8
Organization:American Geosciences Institute (AGI); Earth Science Week (ESW); United States Geological Survey (USGS)
Summary:A volcano is a vent in the surface of the Earth through which magma and gasses erupt. Volcanic eruptions are among the Earth's most powerful and destructive forces, but volcanoes are also creative. Volcanoes have also shaped the Earth's landscape, as many of our mountains, islands, and plains have been built by volcanic eruptions. Mount St. Helens was one of the most powerful volcanic eruptions in recent memory. The bulge that developed on the north flank of Mount St. Helens was evidence of changes occurring inside the volcano. Magma was moving closer to the surface and inflating, or deforming the side of the volcano. A 5.1 magnitude earthquake on May 18, 1980 shook the volcano, including the bulge area. This shaking caused a sudden collapse of the volcano’s north flank and triggered a large avalanche. The removal of this large mass of rock by the avalanche caused a sudden release of pressure inside the volcano and a violent eruption occurred. Students will observe fault movements on a model of the earth's surface.
Earth Science Big Ideas:Big Idea 4
NGSS Discplinary Core Ideas:ESS2.B
NGSS Performance Expectations:HS-ESS3-2; MS-ESS2-2
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering); Engaging in argument from evidence
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts:Scale, proportion, and quantity
Subjects: 6-8; earth science week; earthquake; middle school; volcano
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