Resources for Teachers

College: Geology

Geochemistry|| Geologic Maps|| Plate Tectonics|| Rocks and Minerals|| Soils

Plate Tectonics

This Dynamic Earth: the Story of Plate Tectonics- Background Information
"This Dynamic Earth" is one of the most recommended and referenced primers on plate tectonics. Topics include a history of the theory, scientific developments that spurred its development, the mechanics of plate motions, and the relationship of hotspots to plate tectonic theory. A companion best-selling map, "This Dynamic Planet", is also available online or in print.   

This Dynamic Planet- Background Information
Plate tectonics are fully illustrated by this best-selling world map (a companion to "This Dynamic Earth: the Story of Plate Tectonics") showing the locations of plate boundaries, volcanoes, earthquakes, and impact craters. Detailed ocean floor bathymetry and discussions of fundamental components are also featured. A paper version is available for purchase or the map can be downloaded free in PDF format.

The Interior of the Earth- Background Information
A brief, introductory guide to what is known about the interior of our planet.

Geologic Maps

3D Photographs of Geology in National Parks- Photos
Photographic tours of National Parks (primarily in the western U.S.) in both 3D and standard photographs.

Introduction to Geologic Maps- Maps
Geologic maps describe the rocks and soils at the surface, provide information about what rocks lie at depth, describe the ages of rocks and soils, and show where features such as earthquake faults and landslides lie. This resource page is particularly useful to help students understand geologic maps of areas near where they live or study.

National Geologic Map Database- Background Information
This exhaustive database provides bibliographic access to many thousands of geologic, geophysical, and other kinds of maps available in USGS publications, Web sites, popular science journals, and more.   

Tapestry of Time and Terrain- Map
Shaded relief and geology are combined on this map of the 48 conterminous states. It's a useful resource for discussing physiographic provinces and for viewing the location of rocks deposited during different geologic time periods. Download a free PDF or purchase a paper copy through the USGS Store.     

The North America Tapestry of Time and Terrain- Background Information
The North America Tapestry of Time and Terrain is woven from a geologic map and a shaded relief image. This digital combination reveals the geologic history of North America through the interrelation of rock type, topography and time. Regional surface processes as well as continent-scale tectonic events are exposed in the three dimensions of space and the fourth dimension, geologic time. Download PDF files or purchase a paper copy from the USGS Store.

Geology of the Southern Appalachian Mountains- Map
Created for use in high school and college classrooms, this double-sided USGS map consists of a geologic map, photographs of geologic features, diagrams of plate movement, and more. The map is a companion to the DVD and Teachers Guide The Southern Appalachians, a Changing World and the brochure Birth of the Mountains.

Rocks and Minerals

Short Course Introduction to Quantitative Mineral-resource Assessments- Lesson
A short course developed to assist policymakers in evaluating the consequences of alternative courses of action with respect to land use and mineral-resource development.

Schoolyard Geology- Activities
Stuck in the city? Can't afford to take a field trip? These structured activities use man-made features to demonstrate geologic principles.

USGS Mineral Resources Program- Background Information
The USGS Mineral Resources Program provides current, impartial information on the occurrence, quality, quantity, and availability of mineral resources.  This includes information about mineral commodities, regional mineral resources, crustal imaging, and minerals information.

Mineral Commodity Statistics and Information- Background Information
This Web site assembles statistics and information about the worldwide supply of, demand for, and flow of minerals and materials essential to the U.S. economy, the national security, and protection of the environment.

Historic Events in Minerals and Materials- Background Information
A review of significant changes in industries that consume metals and industrial minerals. This report includes a timeline showing major achievements in mineral production and events that affected the U.S. mineral industry.

From Projectile Points to Microprocessors--The Influence of Some Industrial Minerals- Background Information
A 2007 publication that examines the occurrence and practical uses of nine important industrial minerals - constituting just a few of the more than 50 industrial minerals that shape human culture.

Mineral Deposit Models- Background Information
Publications by the USGS on mineral deposit models converted to digital files that can be downloaded.


Quality Assurance and Quality Control of Geochemical Data: A Primer for the Research Scientist- Background Information
Provides basic information and guidance about developing QA/QC protocols for geochemical studies.

Inorganic Chemical Analysis of Environmental Materials--A Lecture Series- Videos
Compilation of a series of USGS lectures given to graduate level students. Emphasizes the thought processes that should be used when submitting samples for analyses.


What's in My Soil?- Activity
Students separate, examine and identify the major components of soil to better understand how these
components give soil its unique physical characteristics.

Graded Bedding- Activity
Students are introduced to the concept of graded bedding, in which particles are sorted by size as they settle out of suspension. Students will discover that water is a good medium to separate and sort particles, and that particles have different behaviors in water and air.