Plate Tectonic - Hazards (5)
Post Lab 

  • Exploring the association of earthquakes with volcanoes.
  • Analyzing if earthquakes can predict volcanic eruptions.
  • earthquakes
  • eruption
  • magma
  • worksheet

Students predict damage during eruptions, based on earthquake patterns.

A lava flow in Hawaii


Volcanic eruptions cause earthquakes in three main ways. First, the ascent of magma inside the Earth beneath a volcano triggers earthquakes. This upward movement causes the magma chamber to expand. This puts stress on the rocks around it, causing earthquakes. Second, earthquakes occur for similar reasons as magma moves upwards through the vent of the volcano. Finally, the explosions associated with violent eruptions can cause earthquakes. The patterns that these earthquakes produce are extremely useful to vulcanologists (scientists who study volcanoes). They use them to try and predict the timing of an eruption. For example, they can track the ascent of magma in the volcano by watching patterns in the depth of the earthquakes.

Earthquakes are one of many tools used to predict eruptions. Some volcanoes swell or bulge before they erupt, as their magma chambers and vents fill with new magma. Others release differing quantities of gases. Finally, scientists also study the history of volcanoes. The past behavior of a volcano is often a good predictor of what it will do in the future.

Volcano prediction is an inexact science. Many unmeasurable variables effect exactly when eruptions take place. The main goal of scientists is to make their predictions as accurate as possible, so that governments can order evacuations or take other appropriate measures.


In this exercise, students focus on the patterns of earthquakes that occur before an eruption

  1. Explain why earthquakes occur before and during volcanic eruptions.
  2. Point out to the students that other things besides the disruption of people's lives are effected by an eruption. Animal life, the atmosphere, and plant life are all damaged during volcanic events.
    1. How can scientists predict that this volcano may erupt?
      Earthquakes will occur as the magma rises and displaces the surrounding rock.
    2. Color RED the homes that are effected by the eruption of the volcano.
      Students should color the two homes on the eastern part of the volcano. However, if the students reason that ash will affect the two homes on the western portion, that can also be a justified answer.
    3. What else might be affected by this eruption?
      Wildlife, lakes, nearby homes through earthquakes.

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