Oceanography- Plate Tectonics

Exercise Two

Plate Tectonics

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Watch the laboratory lecture video and read the introductory material for background information needed to help you answer your questions.

Complete the exercise. For all calculations show your work.


For this activity room temperature water was put in the clear plastic rectangular container up to the line on the side. One of the plastic beakers was filled to the top with very hot tap water, and the other two beakers were filled with ice water. The beakers were placed in a row, with the hot water in the center. The rectangular container was placed on top of the three beakers so that the beaker with hot water was centered. Five minutes passed and then drops of food dye were added to the center, and drops of a different color were added to the edges.

1. Hypothesize as to how the different temperatures will affect the motion of the food dye when added. (1 pt)

Observe the movement of the water for a few minutes with the added food dye.

2. Describe, in detail, how the different food dyes moved in the container. (1.5 pt)

3. Relate the movement of the food dye to the movement of lithospheric plates. (1 pt)

4. Do you accept or reject your original hypothesis? Explain. (0.5 pt)

Google Earth Activity

*Make sure that you have all settings in metrics. To change this, click on ToolsàOptions. When the window comes up make sure that under Units of Measurement “Meters, Kilometers” is selected.

5. Enter these coordinates into the search box 11.3167o N, 142.2500o E (Enter as 11.3167, 142.2500). Zoom out to approximately 3400 km (eye alt, lower right hand corner). (1.5 pt)

a. What is the tectonic feature you are looking at?

b. What kind of plate boundary is this?

c. What plates are involved at this boundary?

6. Enter the coordinates 30.93979o N, 41.573175o W (Enter as 30.93979, -41.573175). Zoom out to approximately 4800 km. (1.5 pt)

a. What is the name of this tectonic feature?

b. What type of plate boundary is it?

c. In the Atlantic Ocean basin, where is the youngest ocean floor?

d. Why is your answer in part c the youngest ocean floor in the basin?

7. Open the Ruler Tool by clicking ToolsàRuler. Make sure that in the box that pops up, line is selected. It would seem logical that the Ruler Tool would be a click and drag feature, but it is not. With the ruler box still up, click your starting point and then click your ending point. This will give you a measurement along that line. (2 pt)

a. Measure the distance from your coordinate in the previous question to the west coast of Africa. Make sure that you are making a straight line from the MAR to the closest point directly across the basin in Africa. Report the measurement.

b. Using Figure 3 in the introductory material file, determine the rate of plate movement where you measured from. What is that rate?

c. Using the equation V = D/T (as discussed in the lecture video) determine how long it has taken Africa to travel the measured distance from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Make sure to use the appropriate units and convert where necessary. Show all work.

8. Find the beginnings of the island of Loihi. (1 pt)

a. What are the coordinates?

b. What is Loihi?

c. What sea floor feature does it originate from?

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