Earthquakes and volcanoes are dramatic and fascinating natural disasters. From shaking earth to flowing lava, these events can cause massive amounts of damage.
Earthquakes and volcanoes are the result of moving tectonic plates. Tectonic plates are pieces of the Earth’s crust and uppermantle, referred to as the lithosphere. These plates are always moving and interacting, constantly changing the Earth’s outer layer. Plates will separate, collide, or slide past each other. Earthquakes and volcanoes both result from the movement of tectonic plates.
Volcanoes will form at the boundary of two plates where the crust is less dense. Magma, or molten rock, will rise through the weak part of the crust, forming a volcano. There are about 1,500 volcanoes in the world. On average there are 50-70 eruptions per year.
An earthquake is the sudden, rapid shaking of the earth caused by the breaking and shifting of underground rock. They can be quite destructive if they occur near highly populated areas. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there are approximately 500,00 earthquakes per year! Only about 100,000 of them are strong enough to be felt.
Try this activity at home:
Make your own volcano in a cup! We did this as a demonstration in class and it was a big hit! Try it at home with your students.
Here are more Natural Disaster activities we did: