ESCI 121
Fall 2010
Section 0

Assignment #1
World Map

(Due at class time, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010)
Assignment #2
E-mail me!

(Due by 2 pm, Friday, Sept. 3, 2010.
Assignment #3
Geotectonics Research

(Due at class time, Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010)
Assignment #4 
Rock Your State!

(Due Thursday, September 16, 2010.)
Assignment #5: Rock Your State Geologic Point of Interest
(Due Thursday, October 28, 2010.)
Assignment #6A: Earthquake Maps
(Due Thursday, Oct 28, 2010.)
Assignment #6B:  EQ Maps in Living Color!
(Due Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010.)
Assignment #7: Weather Tracking  (Due date varies.) Extra Credit Opportunity
(Due Nov. 23, 2010)
Assignment #8: One-Week Weather Watch
(Due Dec. 7, 2010)
Assignment #1:  World Map.  Due at class time, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010.Find and print out a map of the world.  (A blank map is preferred, but any world map will do.)  Then, locate the following places and label them on the map.  (3 pts for map, +1/2 point for each location correctly shown)
w Japan w Hawaii
w San Francisco, California w Yellowstone National Park
w India/Tibet border w New Zealand
w Iceland    w The Red Sea
w Lake Tanganyika w The Aleutian Islands
w Chile (west coast of S. America) w Jakarta, Indonesia
w Azores Islands w The Galapagos Islands
Assignment #2:  E-mail me!  Due by 2 pm, Friday, September 3, 2010. 

Send Dr. Sanders a message giving the e-mail address at which you would like to be contacted with communications regarding this course.

To earn all three points for this assignment, do the following:

   1) In the "Subject" line of the message, type your name. (+1 pt)
   2) After your name, still in the Subject line, type "Intro to Earth Science". (+1 pt)
   3) In the body of the message, type your e-mail address. (+1 pt)

After that, you message can say anything--it can even be blank, if you wish.
Assignment #3:   Due at class time, Tuesday, Sept 7, 2010.

Log in to our class wiki.  Go to the page called "Geotectonics", click "Edit page", and choose a particular aspect of Earth's large-scale patterns.  Add your name to the list; remember, only five students per item!  When you are done, click "Save". 
1) Find and print an online map of the world that illustrates the aspect you chose.  (For example, if you are researching hot spot volcanoes, print a world map that shows the locations of all the hot spot volcanoes.) (4 pts)
2) Write a title on the map to show what research area it illustrates (e.g. "Deep-Focus Earthquakes", "Volcanoes", etc.). (1 pt)
3)  Record the following items on the map: (1 pt each)
    w the web address (URL) of the site where you found the map,
w the author or sponsoring organization of the page where it appears, and
w the author or organization that produced the map.

Bring your map to class and be ready to work with it in a group setting.  No late homework will be accepted!
Assignment #4: Rock Your State!  (Due Thursday, September 16, 2010.)
1) On the "Rock Your State" page of the class wiki, choose one of the states/territories lists (only one person per state/territory).
2) Find online a geologic map of that state and print it (in color if possible; if not, b&w is okay, this time, but you will eventually need a color map.)  Also find the key, legend, or map explanation and print it too.  Warning:  Sometimes the key is on a separate page!
3) On the class wiki, post the link (URL, or web address) to the page that displays the map and the legend. 
4) On a separate sheet of paper, make a list of all the rock or sediment types that occur in that state.  You probably will need to look at the key, legend, or map explanation to do this; sometimes it will be on a separate page.  Don't write duplicate entries; for example, if "marble" appears twice in the state, only write it once on your list.
  Problems to watch out for:

► Many maps don't show the rock or sediment type, but instead show only the geologic age.  How will you know?  Watch for these words:

Cambrian, Carboniferous, Cenezoic, Cretaceous, Devonian, Eocene, Holocene, Jurassic, Mesozoic, Miocene, Mississippian, Oligocene, Ordovician, Paleocene, Paleozoic, Pennsylvanian, Permian, Pleistocene, Pliocene, Precambrian, Quaternary, Silurian, Tertiary, Triassic.

If these are the only words used to describe the geologic materials, find a different map.
  ► Generic terms such as "sediments", "igneous rocks", "sedimentary rocks", and "metamorphic rocks" are too vague.  If these are the only words used to describe the geologic materials, find a different map.
5) Put your name and section number on all pages and bring it all to class.  No late homework accepted!

If you get stuck, it's okay to change your state--as long as you post it on the class wiki.

Assignment #5:  (Due at class time, Thursday, October 28, 2010.)
Rock Your State Geologic Point of Interest

This "Rock Your State!" assignment involves finding a Geologic Point of Interest in the state you studied, and providing information about it in a poster presentation format.  Your poster should include the following elements:

  • Name of your state
  • Name of the geologic point of interest 
  • Your geologic map and the key, both printed in color
  • Information on the geologic point of interest:
    • LOCATION: Plot location of the geologic point of interest on the geologic map
    • GEOLOGICAL INTEREST:  What makes it so geologically interesting?  What geologic material (i.e. what type of rocks, sediments, e.g.) can be found there?  You may have to read several descriptions of the point of interest, as well as your map, to learn the answer to this.  Note: You must cite your sources!  Do not plagiarize�put the information into your own words.
    • PHOTO: Provide at least one photograph illustrating the geology of the point of interest.  Cite the source!
    • GETTING THERE: If you were going to visit that location, how would you get there?  Could we drive there in a day?  Give a general travel plan. 
      • If it would take more than eight hours to drive from NEIU to the point of interest, then give us another travel option.  You might consider train (e.g. Amtrak: ), bus (e.g. Greyhound: ), or plane (for example, you might want to look at specific airlines, or to try a multiple-airline site like or ).
      • Many remote locations don�t have a major airport or train station nearby, so you might have to choose the nearest big city, and figure on renting a car there.  Here is a map showing major airports; select your region on the dropdown menu for "View by Region" and click the arrow to have it zoom in on your region.

Poster format:  Printed text that appears on the poster must be 36 point or larger (citations to sources can be smaller).  You can use flip-chart sheets provided in class (print out materials and tape them to the poster sheet) or your own poster.  You may come early that day to put together your poster if you wish, but posters must be ready to go at the moment class begins.  You will not be permitted to construct your poster during class time!

What happens next?  During our class session, half the students will stand next to their posters while other students circulate.  Presenters will explain to viewers why they chose their sites, what geologic materials can be found there, and what makes the site geologically interesting.  Then we will switch presenter/viewer roles.

This assignment is worth 12 points total.

Assignment #6: Earthquake Maps.  (Due Thursday, October 28, 2010.)

In this assignment, you will use the resources of the US Geological Survey to plot a color map showing the focal depth of recent earthquakes in a specific rectangular area that you will identify using latitude and longitude. 
Follow the steps in the boxes below.
Sign Up for a Study Area:   Go to the class wiki and click on "Earthquake Maps" to select a study area.  Log in, click "Edit Page", sign up, and click "Save". 
Find Data:
  1. Go to the Earth Science Department home page and click "Terrific Links" (in the right hand column). 
  2. At the top left, click “Earthquake Watch!”
  3. Along the top of the page, click "Research".
  4. Click "Scientific Data" at the right of the page. 
  5. Click the link called "Earthquake Catalog Search".
  6. Click the link called "Rectangular Area Search". 
  7. Under "Select Output File Type", select “Generate Map”
  8. Scroll down, and enter the latitude and longitude of the rectangle you have chosen.  NOTE:  If you are working in the western hemisphere, longitudes have to be entered as negative numbers!  If you are working in the southern hemisphere, latitudes have to be entered as negative numbers!
  9. Scroll down and click “Submit Search”
  10. Wait for a minute or two; it can take awhile.  Eventually a map of earthquake foci will appear.
  11. See if the map shows what you wanted it to.  To enlarge, reduce, or adjust the area, click the back arrow, and enter new latitude/longitude coordinates. 
Perfect Your Map:  In this step, you will need to use your scientific curiosity and judgment.  Look at the dots illustrating earthquake foci.  Does the map show interesting patterns?  Try enlarging or reducing the mapped area or shifting it N/S or E/W.  Adjust your coordinates to illustrate the patterns better.  If there are areas without earthquakes, adjust your coordinates to exclude them from the map. 

Spend some time here, tweaking your coordinates to produce the best possible map. 


Spend some time here, tweaking your coordinates to produce the best possible map.
Save and E-mail Your Map:

Once the map on the screen looks perfect, showing the interesting features of your general area, excluding areas with few earthquakes, right-click on the map and select "Save Picture As..." 

Save the file to your flash drive (or somewhere you can find it later).

Rename your file this way:  [your name]06[study area]  (For example, "Chris06Japan".)

E-mail the map as an attachment to me at L-Sanders at  In your message, give your name, the
location of your earthquake study area, and the latitude and longitude coordinates you used to produce your map. 

I will provide feedback as to whether or not you should enlarge/reduce the map area, change your coordinates, or otherwise tweak your map.

This assignment is worth six points. 

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Assignment #6B:   Due Tuesday, November 2, 2010.  

After your map has been approved, print
five copies of it, in color.  Seriously, they have to be in color

On each copy, write the
NAME OF THE STUDY AREA in LARGE BLOCK LETTERS at the top of the page.  At the bottom of the page, write your name (so we know of whom we can ask follow-up questions). 

This assignment is worth four points.

Assignment #7:  Weather Tracking. 

You are responsible for collecting two copies of the Chicago Tribune weather map for one specific day.  To "claim" your day, log in to the class wiki; click "Edit Page"; and type your name in the appropriate box.  Then click "Save". 


When you have collected the two copies of the maps for the date you selected, bring them to class and post them, following the example shown in class. 


Note:  The two copies of the maps must be in color; black & white photocopies are not acceptable!  The two copies of the maps MUST be from the Chicago Tribune,  no other newspaper (or web page) is acceptable.  The Chicago Tribune is the only local source of weather maps that are easily available and illustrate all the features we will analyze in class.

Extra Credit Opportunity:  (Due Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010.)  What is the relationship between magnitude of an earthquake and the depth of its focus?  This assignment, should you choose to accept it, is worth six points extra credit, to be added to your Assignments total.
  1. Go to the Earth Science Department home page and click "Terrific Links" (in the right hand column). 
  2. At the top left, click “Earthquake Watch!”  You will see a list of all the earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 that have occurred in the last seven days.
  3. Note which column give the magnitude of the earthquakes, and which column tells the focal depth in kilometers.
  4. Prepare the data for graphing, as demonstrated in class:

w Highlight and copy the entire list. 

w Open a blank Excel spreadsheet, click in a cell, right-click, and select "Paste Special", "Text", and "OK".

w Highlight the column containing the data, and go to the "Data" dropdown menu.  Select "Text to Columns", and then "Fixed Width" and "Finished". 

w Delete all the columns except for Magnitude and Depth.  Delete all the rows containing text.

  1. Now you should have a list of hundreds of earthquakes.  Plot these data in a graph of magnitude versus focal depth.  You may do this using Excel or by hand.
  2. Determine what trend, if any, the data indicate.  For example, are deep-focus earthquakes generally bigger than shallow-focus earthquakes? 
  3. Print your graph, and on it, write a few sentences stating and explaining your conclusion.   
Assignment #8: One-Week Weather Watch.  (Due Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010.)  complete the weather data-gathering and interpretation tasks described in this document.  Your grade will be based on completeness, accuracy, map neatness, and the quality of your analysis.  This assignment is worth 14 points.




Department of Earth Science | Northeastern Illinois University

Copyright 2010 Laura L. Sanders.  Last updated December 5, 2010.