Resources for Teachers

Grade 9-12: Geology

Caves and Caverns|| Fossils and Earth History|| Geologic Maps|| Geomagnetism|| Plate Tectonics|| Rocks and Minerals|| Soils|| Thematic Maps

Geomagnetism

A Brief Introduction to Geomagnetism- Background Information
The USGS uses ground-based observatories to provide continuous records of the Earth's magnetic field variations. This simplified description uses images and a time-laps animation to explain phenomena created by the magnetic field that can be easily monitored and studied.

Journey Along a Field Line- Activity
A sixteen-page comic book about the Earth's magnetic field. Travel down through the interior of the earth then back up into the ionosphere to learn how the magnetic field works.

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- Map
Plate tectonics are fully illustrated on 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
This booklet is an introductory guide to what is known about the interior of our planet.

Major Tectonic Plates of the World- Map
A simple map of the major tectonic plates of the world (scroll to page 35). Another simple map is here.

How to Build a Model Illustrating Sea-Floor Spreading and Subduction- Activity
Build a three-dimensional model using a shoe box.

Plate Tectonics Tennis Ball Globe- Activity
Create a mini globe that shows the major plate boundaries of the world (scroll to page 15).

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.

What is a Geologic Map?- Background Information
A brief overview of geologic maps and how they're made

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 publication, Web sites, and in popular science journals, etc.   

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 rocks deposited during different geologic time periods. Download a free PDF or purchase a paper version through the USGS Store. Both versions include an 18-page pamphlet. This is one of the most eye-catching maps produced by the USGS.

The North America Tapestry of Time and Terrain- Background Information
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.

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 Southern Appalachians, a Changing World and the brochure Birth of the Mountains.

Rocks and Minerals

Schoolyard Geology- Activities
Structured activities use man-made features that are found in a typical schoolyard to demonstrate geologic principles.

The Lifecycle of a Mineral Deposit- Activities
A teacher's guide for hands-on mineral education activities. Designed to meet the National Science Standards, this product includes 10 activity-based learning exercises that educate students on basic geologic concepts; the processes of finding, identifying, and extracting the resources from a mineral deposit; and the uses of minerals. Geared for fifth through eighth grade science teachers.  

Collecting Rocks- Activity
Learn about different types of rocks and how to identify and collect them.

Metal Recycling- Background Information
How much metal does the U.S. recycle each year? Annual statistics and information about specific metals can be found here.

Gemstones- Background Information
Learn about the occurrence and production of various gemstones in the United States. The site is organized by state and gemstone.

Mineral Commodity Statistics and Information- Background Information
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.

Rocks and Minerals- Background Information
Introductory information about rocks and minerals with a glossary of commonly-used geology terms.

Mineral Resources Online Spatial Data- Maps
Easy access to maps and data related to geology and minerals. To find information about your county, click on "Geographic Area: United States", then select your state and county. For a simple geologic map of your state, click on the "Geological data" tab at top, then "Geologic maps of US States"

Historic Events in Minerals and Materials- Background Information
A review of significant changes in industries that consume metals and industrial minerals. It includes a timeline showing major achievements in mineral production and events that affected the U.S. mineral industry. These are related to overall U.S. mineral consumption and years of war or recession.

Minerals in our Environment- Poster
A color poster (approximate dimensions 36 x 60 inches) showing how we use minerals in our everyday life.

Mineral Resources: Out of the Ground...Into our Daily Lives- Poster
This poster shows the common usage of mineral resources in our homes, offices, and equipment we use daily.

Mineral Use in Safety Applications in the Workplace- Background Information
Find more examples of common uses for minerals.

Building Stones of Our Nation's Capital- Background Information
Descriptions and examples of all the kinds of stone used in the buildings and monuments in the Washington DC area. Discusses the impact of acid precipitation on our national landmarks. An abbreviated and updated version of this publication is available as a 2-page fact sheet.

The Living Rock: The Earth's Continental Crust- Video
This 1-hour film provides a global tour of geologic processes through the eyes of several USGS scientists.

Mineral Commodity Fact Sheets- Background Information
Two-page, easily-understood fact sheets about important mineral commodities. Learn where each mineral comes from, how it's used, and why it's important

Gold—Why is gold such an important mineral?- Background Information
A 23-page booklet giving a brief history of gold mining and the "gold fever" that has endured for centuries of civilizations.

Mineral Resource of the Month- Background Information
How is a specific mineral used in the United States? How much of that mineral is produced? These questions are answered in this series of two-page articles written for over sixty different minerals.

Do We Take Minerals for Granted?- Background Information
Did you know that the average automobile contains 42 lbs of copper? Use this site to learn about the everyday use of minerals, minerals and the environment, mineral supplies, and much more. An additional report on Geology and Nonfuel Mineral deposits of the United States is an excellent source of information, page size maps, and illustrations of the geologic processes.

Soils

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.

Introduction to Soils- Lesson
This complete lesson plan teaches students how soils develop and provides links between soils, climate, vegetation, and geology. Includes materials for both teachers and students (handout, puzzle, field and lab sheets).

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.

Caverns and Caves

USGS Karst Web site- Background Information
Information about USGS research on karst aquifers, which are a vital ground-water resource in the United States.

Karst in the United States: A Digital Map Compilation and Database- Maps
Digital maps delineating areas of the U.S. having karst or the potential for development of karst. All 50 states contain rocks with potential for karst development.

Karst Topography - Teacher's Guide and Paper Model- Background Information
A brief description of karst topography with glossary and questions to ask students. The paper model must be downloaded separately.

Sinkholes- Background Information
A two-page fact sheet about sinkholes and their catastrophic occurrence in Missouri.

Thematic Maps

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 rocks deposited during different geologic time periods. Download a free PDF or purchase a paper version through the USGS Store. Both versions include an 18-page pamphlet. This is one of the most eye-catching maps produced by the USGS.

The North America Tapestry of Time and Terrain- Background Information
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.

Fossils and Earth History

Fossils, Rocks, and Time- Background Information
This general guide provides an overview of geologic time and the use of fossils to determine the age of layers in the earth.

Our Changing Continents- Background Information
This general interest publication provides an overview of how North America's landscape has changed through geologic time.

Geologic Time- Background Information
A brief online booklet that explains how the geologic time scale is defined and how the age of the earth is determined.

Geologic Age- Activity
Students investigate radioactivity as a tool for measuring geologic time.

The Geologic Time Spiral - A Path to the Past- Poster
The centerfold illustration from the popular USGS pamphlet "Geologic Time" is now available as a downloadable poster in both page-size and poster-size resolutions. This diagram is a wonderful representation of the age of the Earth from its creation, through the different geologic eras, and up to the present. Perfect for classroom walls!