Science News: How Plates Shape the Earth

volcanoIf you have read the “For Creative Minds” section in A True Princess of Hawai‘i or Gopher to the Rescue, you have learned the basics of how volcanoes form. Scientists at The Australian National University have just concluded a study to find out when the Hawaiian hot spot was formed.

Although this group of researchers began with the knowledge of the twin tracks that sit underneath the young islands, they used computer simulation to date the occurrence of a change in the movement of the Pacific plate to 3 million years ago. A mantle plume, or columns of rock caused by heat from the Earth’s core, was out of alignment creating the volcanic activity and forming the beautiful islands we know today.

Learning about the past is important to predicting the future of the Earth’s landscape. Future scientists may be looking to this research just as this team used the knowledge from the scientists that discovered the twin tracks in 1849.

Dive into Earth science with these books:

TruePrincessA True Princess of Hawai‘i
Nani has always dreamed of being a princess. When a real Hawaiian princess comes to her hometown of Hilo, Nani dresses in her best clothes. But as she watches Princess Luka, who has come to save the town from a volcanic lava flow, Nani learns that there is more to being a princess than fine clothes. This incredible story of kindness and generosity is based on the historical events of the 1880-1881 eruption of Mauna Loa on the Island of Hawai‘i and the real-life Princess Luka.

GopherRescueGopher to the Rescue: A Volcano Recovery Story

The forest animals are surprised when a volcano suddenly explodes, covering the land in gritty, warm ash and rocks that make it unlivable for many plants and animals. Gopher survives in his underground burrow with food to eat. How does Gopher help bring life back to the mountain? Scientists spent years observing life returning to the mountain following the eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980. This fictionalized story is based on their surprising observations of how life returns to an area that has been totally changed or destroyed.

ThisLandThis Land is Your Land
Take a trip around the world to discover a wide variety of Earth’s landforms and geological features through the rhythmic verse in This Land is Your Land. On the journey encounter plains, plateaus, and rolling hills. Find out how a stream can make a canyon or lava creates an archipelago. Read aloud and discover new terrain with the flip of each page.

Read more about the study here!

Mount St. Helens is rising

GopherRescue_187In 2012 author Terry Catsús Jennings introduced us to gopher that brought the landscape around Mount Saint Helens back to life after the eruption in her book Gopher to the Rescue. Sunday marks the anniversary of the eruption, but as we remember the event scientists are busy monitoring the rising levels of magma under the surface.

While the current reports show a rise in pressure scientists are not sounding the alarms jus t yet. Seth Moran a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey has closely monitored the volcano and found, “This is giving long-term (data) that it’s getting ready to erupt again, but it could be decades before it does something again.”

In 1980 Mount St. Helens also gave seismologists signs that it was about to erupt. As early as March 1st the volcano was showing building pressure and small earthquakes put the seismologists on notice that the landscape of the mountain was changing. Using laser equipment and also flying planes overexplode the mountain the scientists were able to gather the data that predicted when the mountain would erupt and this data save many lives.

The great intensity of the eruption was felt through the forests and as far as 2200 square miles away. The eruption caused serious destruction. Today the area has recovered and the surviving underground animals are credited with helping that process along.

As scientists continue to monitor the small earthquakes and rising magma levels, they note that the volcano will erupt again. “It may stay perched at ready stage for a long time before it starts to erupt. The reassuring thing is: when it’s really ready to erupt, it gives lots and lots of signs.”

Learn more about volcanoes with everyone’s favorite science experiment!

While this is not the same type of eruption that Mount St. Helens produces; learn about volcanoes and chemistry with this experiment.

What you will need:

A soda bottle
A baking pan (or something to catch the mess)
Baking Soda
Playdough or clay to form the mountain (optional)

Place baking soda in the bottom of your soda bottle and place it in the center of the baking pan. Mold the playdough around the bottle to form your volcano mountain (optional) Pour the vinegar into the soda bottle and stand back as the pressure build and it fizzes to the top and over the sides. Be sure to have towels on hand to clean any spills.

nasa volcano




** Quotes from Associated Press