Lunar and Planetary Institute

Education and Public Outreach

Cracking Up: Plate Tectonics, Volcanism, and the Structure of the Earth

Model the structural layers of the Earth, investigate the data that led to the theory of plate tectonics, and discover the relationship between plate tectonics and earthquakes, volcanos, and mountains, through data analysis and hands-on activities. 

Preliminary Concepts

Igneous: this rocks form as liquid magma or lava cools; the crystals that form are interlocking
Metamorphic: this rock forms from existing (not molten) rocks under heat and/or pressure; the crystals are interlocking and have a preferred orientation
Sedimentary: rocks are cemented together; not formed from crystals but from pieces or precipitants

One common misconception is that layered rocks are always sedimentary; in fact, many metamorphic rocks are layered, and even a few igneous rocks can have layers.

Activities Modeling Rock Processes

Plate Tectonic Activities