Lab Assignment: Plate Tectonics

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This lab assignment will help you analyze the plate boundaries, tectonic plates, and areas associated with each. Also earthquakes (which are products of moving plates) will be analyzed.


For this part of the lab, you will answer questions about some of the major plate boundaries in the world.  For each question, analyze the movement of the plate.

1) Look at the direction(s) of the South American Plate and African Plate.

A) Are they diverging, converging, or moving parallel to each other?

B) What direction is the South American Plate moving in? What direction is the African Plate moving in?

2) In which direction is the North American Plate moving in? At its current track, where will it eventually wind up?

3) If the North American plate is moving 0.5 inch a year, how far will it have moved in:

            100 Years______________               10,000 Years________________

            1000 Years_____________               100,000 Years_______________

Convert this measurement to feet.


Go to and you

will see a plate tectonic map of the world. Rest the mouse on the bottom right corner of

the map and after a couple of seconds an enlargement icon should appear. Click on this

icon to see the map in full size. Now you can use the scroll bars on the side and bottom

to maneuver around the map.

1) Look at the mid central area of the United States.  What is tectonically happening in that area?

2) In South Central Europe, Northern India, and Western South America, look at the areas where reverse faults are present. What is the correlation between reverse faults and the geographical features of those areas?

3) Look at where New Jersey is. According to the map, what is happening in our area?

3B) If something or nothing is happening in New Jersey, what is the reason?

4) Look at Australia. Has the country had any active volcanoes in the last million years? If so, what part of the country were they?

5) Scroll over to Asia and locate the Java Trench. This is where the Indian Plate and

Eurasian Plate interact. What kind of plate interaction occurs here, that was responsible

for the December 26, 2004 tsunami?


Go to this website: When you get there, scroll down to “Latest Earthquakes” and click on it. This will bring you to a map with real time earthquake activity throughout the world. With the map, you can scroll all over the world. Also, you can make adjustments to the dates by clicking on “Options” in the upper right hand corner. This will display earthquakes over the last 30 days. Answer the questions below in regards to the map:

1) How many earthquakes over a 2.5 on the Richter Scale in the last 24 hours have happened in the United States? What were their magnitude (click on the dot to see)?

2) Go to options. Click “30 Days, Magnitude 4.5+ Worldwide.” This will give you all the earthquakes that have happened worldwide over a 4.5 Magnitude in the last 30 day.  Looking at the United States first, how many have happened? What was the magnitude of it (or if several the magnitude of all)?

3) Zoom out the map to show the world. What is one correlation you notice about the location of the majority of earthquakes?

4) Click on the largest dots on the map (there are 2). Record the earthquake data from those two dots, with the magnitude and location.

5) Zoom back into the United States. Under options, choose “30 Days, Magnitude 2.5+ Worldwide.”

            5A) Have any earthquakes happened in New Jersey?

            5B) What is the closest earthquake to New Jersey to occur? Click on that earthquake and record its data.

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