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Chapter 17

Plate Tectonics:
Can we predict destructive earthquakes?
1. The Pacific coastline is found
a. at the middle of a continental plate.
b. where two tectonic plates move parallel.
c. along divergent plate boundaries.
d. near a subduction zone.
e. associated with a hot spot.

Ans: d
Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth
Difficulty Level: Easy

2. Which of the following was used as evidence for plate tectonics?


a. topographic profiles of the ocean floors
b. maps on rock magnetism
c. data classifying rocks by age
d. sea floor spreading
e. all of the above

Ans: e
Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth
Difficulty Level: Easy

3. The magnetic pattern from seafloor data recorded off the coast of Vancouver and
Washington State
a. were created by magnetite in fissure flows.
b. are caused by hot spots.
c. are indicators of past and future earthquake sites.
d. have no one explanation accepted by scientists.
e. always run perpendicular to the equator.

Ans: a
Link To: The Dynamic Earth
Difficulty Level: Easy

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4. The continents of Eurasia and North America are currently moving apart at an average
rate of
a. 2 inches per century.
b. 5 cm per year.
c. 5 meters per year.
d. 2 cm per century.
e. 10 cm per decade.

Ans: b
Link To: The Dynamic Earth
Difficulty Level: Easy

5. Which of the following describes earthquakes?


a. Earthquakes are an abrupt release of energy.
b. Prediction of earthquakes is an established science, which gives global citizens a
chance to evacuate ahead of time.
c. Earthquakes have never occurred in the middle of the USA.
d. No earthquake has been measured higher than 7 on the Richter scale.
e. All earthquakes happen within one kilometer of the Earth's surface.

Ans: a
Link To: The Dynamic Earth
Difficulty Level: Easy

6. The North American Plate


a. extends from coast to coast in the United States and is completely covered by land.
b. extends from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean to the edge of the Pacific Plate.
c. contains the eastern half of North America and parts of western Europe.
d. has only subducting boundaries.
e. contains only the western half of North and South America.

Ans: b
Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth
Difficulty Level: Easy

7. Which of the following is an example of a continental convergent plant boundary?


a. the East African Rift Valley
b. the San Andreas Fault
c. the Atlantic east coast fall line
d. Mount St. Helens in the northwest United States

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e. the Himalayan Mountains

Ans: e
Link To: Another Look at Volcanoes and Earthquakes
Difficulty Level: Easy

8. Divergent plate boundaries are associated with


a. seafloor spreading.
b. formation of new crust.
c. volcanic action.
d. shallow, low-energy earthquakes.
e. all of the above

Ans: e
Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth
Difficulty Level: Easy

9. How often does the oceanic plate material of the Earth renew itself; i.e., go through
one replacement cycle?
a. every 100 million years
b. every 200 million years
c. every 1,000 years
d. every 100,000 years
e. The oceanic plate material never renews itself.

Ans: b
Link To: The Dynamic Earth
Difficulty Level: Easy

10. The transform plate boundaries


a. form new material at rates exceeding that of the divergent plate boundaries.
b. are the location of island arcs and hot spots.
c. created the Andes Mountains in South America.
d. are exemplified by the San Andreas fault.
e. are sites of major volcano ranges.

Ans: d
Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth
Difficulty Level: Medium

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11. Where is the longest mountain range on Earth?
a. Mid-Atlantic Ocean Ridge
b. Andes Mountains in South America
d. Himalayas in India
c. Appalachians in the eastern United States
e. Urals in Russia

Ans: a
Link To: The Dynamic Earth
Difficulty Level: Easy

12. Which formula would you use to determine the age of the Atlantic Ocean basin?
a. E = mC2
b. D = R T.
c. F= M A
d. A = π r2
e. P = N R T

Ans: b
Link To: The Dynamic Earth
Difficulty Level: Easy

13. What evidence convinced most scientists to accept the theory of plate tectonics?
a. ocean topography
b. magnetism of the ocean basin rocks
c. discovery of the Mid-Atlantic Rift zone
d. radiometric dating of the basaltic rocks
e. all of the above

Ans: e
Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth
Difficulty Level: Easy

14. What causes the Ring of Fire, which borders much of the Pacific Ocean?
a. plate subduction
b. divergent plates
c. sea floor spreading
d. transform plates
e. all of the above

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Chapter 17

Ans: a
Link To: Another Look at Volcanoes and Earthquakes
Difficulty Level: Easy

15. Which of these waves is classified as a type of seismic wave following earthquakes?
a. transverse
b. compressional
c. longitudinal
d. shear waves
e. all of the above

Ans: e
Link To: Another Look at Volcanoes and Earthquakes
Difficulty Level: Easy

16. Mountains on the Earth are continuously being formed.

Ans: True
Link To: The Dynamic Earth
Difficulty Level: Easy

17. Energy from earthquakes is transmitted as light waves.

Ans: False
Link To: The Dynamic Earth
Difficulty Level: Easy

18.A philosopher and a meteorologist laid the groundwork for the idea of moving
continents.

Ans: True
Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth
Difficulty Level: Easy

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19. Evidence for Earth's magnetic reversals has been found in the East African Rift Zone.

Ans: False
Link To: The Dynamic Earth
Difficulty Level: Easy

20. An earthquake with a magnitude 7 on the Richter Scale releases 100 times the energy
of an earthquake with a magnitude 5.

Ans: True
Link To: The Dynamic Earth
Difficulty Level: Easy

21. The ocean floor is a flat plain collecting sediments from the continents.

Ans. False
Link To: The Dynamic Earth
Difficulty Level: Easy

22. Rocks collected at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and dated with radioactive isotopes are
among the oldest rocks on earth.

Ans: False
Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth
Difficulty Level: Easy

23. Tidal waves come as frequently as the tides.

Ans: False
Link To: The Dynamic Earth
Difficulty Level: Easy

24. Man may have evolved his upright stance from a need to adapt to divergent plate
boundaries.

Ans: True

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Chapter 17

Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth


Difficulty Level: Easy

25. The Appalachian Mountains are among the youngest on Earth.

Ans: False
Link To: The Dynamic Earth
Difficulty Level: Easy

26. The specific surface features created by convergent plate boundaries depend on
whether the plates are continental or oceanic.

Ans: True
Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth
Difficulty Level: Easy

27. The speed of a seismic wave depends partly on the type of seismic wave that is
moving.

Ans: True
Link To: Another Look at Volcanoes and Earthquakes
Difficulty Level: Easy

28. When Californians refer to “The Big One” what do they mean?

Ans: Because of the stresses growing along the San Andreas and other faults, geologists
predict that in the coming decades Californians will experience “The Big One,” an
earthquake of greater magnitude than any they have had before.
Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth
Difficulty Level: Easy

29. What are the surface features associated with convergent plate boundaries?

Ans: Converging plates can result in deep ocean trenches, nonvolcanic mountains, or
coastal mountain ranges with an ocean trench offshore.

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Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth
Difficulty Level: Easy

30. How were the Hawaiian Islands formed?

Ans: The Hawaiian Islands were created one at a time as the Pacific Plate moved toward
the northwest over a stationary hot spot.
Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth
Difficulty Level: Easy

31. What is always characteristic of a tectonic plate?


a. made of basalt
b. comprised of crust and some mantle material
c. made of granite
d. has a thickness of at least 35 km
e. all of the above

Ans: b
Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth
Difficulty Level: Medium

32. Subduction zone regions are often the locations of


a. active volcanoes.
b. the disappearance of old plate material.
c. the world's highest mountains.
d. severe earthquakes.
e. All of the above can be located at subduction zones.

Ans: e
Link To: Another Look at Volcanoes and Earthquakes
Difficulty Level: Medium

33. What is the force that moves continents and tectonic plates?
a. convection cells
b. mantle convection
c. radioactive decay
d. heat energy left from the great bombardment
e. all of the above

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Chapter 17

Ans: e
Link To: The Dynamic Earth
Difficulty Level: Medium

34. Most mountains have not eroded to a flat plain in the last 500,000 years because
a. under a thin veneer of soil, a mountain is solid rock.
b. new mountains constantly emerge through rifts in the crustal material of oceans and
continents.
c. ozone depletion has decreased the rate of erosion.
d. the mantle has a constant supply of granitic material
e. mountains are reformed by tectonic uplift that is greater than or equal to the erosional
forces.

Ans: e
Link To: The Dynamic Earth
Difficulty Level: Medium

35. If you took a vacation driving to the oldest part of the North American continent you
would need to bring a map of
a. Wichita, Kansas.
b. northeastern Canada.
c. the Cascade Range of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
d. Baja, California.
e. the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Ans: b
Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth
Difficulty Level: Medium

36. The only currently active plate boundary within the continental United States is the
a. Marianas Trench.
b. East-Pacific Rise.
c. New Madrid Fault.
d. San Andreas Fault.
e. Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Ans: d
Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth
Difficulty Level: Medium

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37. Which of the following would not be seen in the United States?
a. chunks of land called terranes
b. an old spreading "rift" plate boundary
c. a “hot spot” with active volcanoes
d. a mountain range created from the collision of two continents
e. a mountain range formed when molten rock pushed up sediments

Ans: b
Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth
Difficulty Level: Medium

38. What part of the Hawaiian Island chain is the oldest?


a. northwest
b. southwest
c. south
d. east
e. west

Ans: a
Link To: Another Look at Volcanoes and Earthquakes
Difficulty Level: Medium

39. The difference between continental and ocean basin rock is


a. ocean rocks are not as dense as continental rocks.
b. ocean rocks are basaltic and continental rocks are granitic.
c. continental rocks can be detected by Geiger counters.
d. continental rocks were originally metamorphic rocks.
e. continental rocks form thinner crustal material.

Ans: b
Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth
Difficulty Level: Medium

40. Earthquakes that measure around 8 on the Richter scale can be felt by most people
but do little damage to buildings.

Ans: False
Link To: The Dynamic Earth
Difficulty Level: Medium

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Chapter 17

41. The Grand Canyon is an example of what happens when two tectonic plates scrape
past each other.

Ans: False
Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth
Difficulty Level: Medium

42. Compared to the oceanic plates, the continental plates are thicker and comprised of
lower-density rock.

Ans: True
Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth
Difficulty Level: Medium

43. How can you tell the relative age of a mountain by its physical features?

Ans: After much time, mountains that were once angular with steep slopes become more
rounded by erosion processes; therefore, in general, rounded mountains may be older.
Link To: The Dynamic Earth
Difficulty Level: Medium

44. Describe the changes in curriculum organization in geology departments since 1960.
What technologies and new information precipitated these changes?

Ans: Magnetic measurements, images from high-flying airplanes, and so forth led to the
acceptance of the theory of plate tectonics.
Link To: The Dynamic Earth
Difficulty Level: Medium

45. Briefly summarize the evidence scientists used to determine that the center of the
Earth rotates at a different rate from the crust.

Ans: Earthquake waves plus the idea that the more liquid mantle has more inertia than
does the core.
Link To: Another Look at Volcanoes and Earthquakes
Difficulty Level: Medium

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46. Explain the wide range in age differences between the age of the continents measured
in billions of years and the age of the ocean floor measured in millions of years.

Ans: Answers will vary; the ocean floor is recycled via subduction into the Earth’s upper
mantle, while the less dense continental crust is not subducted, so it remains on the
surface.
Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth
Difficulty Level: Medium

47. Explain how volcanoes situated over ‘hot spots’ would not be expected to be
explosive in nature while volcanoes associated with subduction zones would be.

Ans: Again the difference is in the amount (volume) of water available for steam
resulting in explosive power. The subduction zone carries water with it into the melting
zone.
Link To: Another Look at Volcanoes and Earthquakes
Difficulty Level: Medium

48. What would be an architectural specification for a skyscraper built in an earthquake-


prone region?
a. rigid and strong
b. flexible with shock preservers
c. soft and malleable
d. corner angles locked to 90 degrees
e. covered with rubber insulation

Ans: b
Link To: Another Look at Volcanoes and Earthquakes
Difficulty Level: Hard

49. What evidence did Wegener use in proposing the idea of continental drift? Why were
his ideas not accepted?

Ans: In addition to observing and questioning the origin of the parallel coastlines on
opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean, Wegener identified matching rock formations and
other geological evidence. The established geological community rejected his ideas
because he proposed increase in average elevation of continents and had no mechanism
for the movement of the continents.
Link To: The Dynamic Earth
Difficulty Level: Hard

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Chapter 17

50. What reasoning did scientists use to determine that the Atlantic Ocean is 160 million
years old?

Ans: Scientists used the distance/time/rate relationship. The time the ocean has expanded
equals its age; the rate of movement (assumed constant) equals 5 cm/yr; the present
distance between Eurasia and North America is about 7000 km. Distance divided by rate
equals 140 million years for these data.
Link To: The Dynamic Earth
Difficulty Level: Hard

51. What attributes of granite and basalt have resulted in the shape of continents we see
on a map?

Ans: The continental plates are mostly granite capping the mantle, while the oceanic
plates are basalt. Since granite is a lower-density rock than basalt, the continents “float”
on top of the basalt and mantle rock.
Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth
Difficulty Level: Hard

52. What are the processes that build stress in brittle rocks?

Ans: Heated rocks expand; cooled rocks contract; rocks with changes in pressure from
below or above can distort or rebound; rocks at plate boundaries absorb stress until one or
more moves, causing earthquakes.
Link To: The Dynamic Earth
Difficulty Level: Hard

53. How do seismologists use the vibration energy released by earthquakes?

Ans: Answers may vary. Seismologists around the world record the intensity and time of
arrival of seismic waves generated by earthquakes. Using a computer, the scientists can
analyze this information to learn more about the earthquake and about the material
through which it passes.
Link To: Another Look at Volcanoes and Earthquakes
Difficulty Level: Hard

54. The Marianas Trench is the result of two convergent plates, with no continents on

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either plate, forming a subduction zone. Knowing these facts, what else can you say
about the Marianas Trench?

Ans: One plate will sink beneath the other, down into the
Earth, where it can melt, producing magma and a volcanic
environment beneath the ocean.
Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth
Difficulty Level: Hard

55. Explain the statement “Good scientists will eventually accept the implications of their
observations, whether those implications violate preconceived ideas or not.”

Ans: Answers will vary but should include information about observations and testing/re-
testing experiments to confirm data.
Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth
Difficulty Level: Hard

56. How does seismic tomography give scientists a three-dimensional view of the Earth?

Ans: Data from seismic events are analyzed through computer imaging allowing for
better analysis.
Link To: Another Look at Volcanoes and Earthquakes
Difficulty Level: Hard

57. The Earth’s magnetic field changes direction periodically over geologic time.
Describe what evidence scientists have for this change and explain why they feel this
evidence supports this theory.

Ans: Magnetic field measurements showed alignment of north/south poles within rocks
as they hardened after emerging from the mid-Atlantic Ridge.
Link To: The Dynamic Earth
Difficulty Level: Hard

58. Using your knowledge of Newton’s laws of motion and your knowledge of properties
of materials, sketch both a high-rise and a one-story building that might be able to
withstand an earthquake. Label the characteristics you have given your buildings that
make them earthquake resistant. Indicate what will happen to your buildings when an
earthquake hits.

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Chapter 17

Ans: Answers will vary but should include large-based, thin-topped flexible buildings.
Link To: The Dynamic Earth
Difficulty Level: Hard

59. Is “terra firma” an accurate description of the continents? If so, why? If not, use your
imagination to come up with a more descriptive phrase.

Ans: Answers will vary. From our perspective, the continents are not moving, except as
evidenced by earthquakes and volcanoes.
Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth
Difficulty Level: Hard

60. Describe the type of land formation that would be created at each of these plate
boundaries and the processes that caused: continental divergent; ocean divergent;
continental convergent; ocean convergent; subduction; and transform.

Ans: Divergent—plates moving apart caused by convection currents moving away from
each other, creating rifts and ridges; convergent—plates moving together caused by
convection currents that move toward each other causing folded or uplifted mountains;
subduction—heavy plate pulled under a light plate by converging convection currents
causing trenches; transform—plates pushing by each other caused by plates pushed in
opposite directions, forming faults.
Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth
Difficulty Level: Hard

61. Which of the Earth's major cities are located in earthquake hazard areas? Is it more or
less dangerous to live near an active volcano? Explain your answer.

Ans: Answers will vary. San Francisco, Los Angeles, Nome, etc.; danger may be
measured in several ways including loss of life and property.
Link To: Another Look at Volcanoes and Earthquakes
Difficulty Level: Hard

62. What would the Earth topography look like after 4.6 billion years if plate tectonics
were not an active process? How do you know?

Ans: Erosion would flatten some landforms and deepen others. Mountains would be

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eroded so that while the down-cutting ability of rivers would great in the beginning, they
would lesson over time based on the decrease of slope.
Link To: The Dynamic Earth
Difficulty Level: Hard

63. Volcanoes are found all over the world, specifically in North America on both the
east and west coasts. However it is the volcanoes on the west coast that concern earth
scientists as geologic hazards. Why is this?

Ans: The volcanoes are associated with active subduction zones and contain a significant
amount of water, which turns into steam and thereby creates explosive eruptions.
Link To: Another Look at Volcanoes and Earthquakes
Difficulty Level: Hard

64. How is it that the deepest earthquakes do not go beyond a few tens of kilometers
deep, that is there are no earthquakes in the mantle or core?

Ans: Earthquakes only occur between and among brittle solid materials. In the mantle
and outer core the material is not brittle, but has fluid characteristics so no stresses can
build up.
Link To: Another Look at Volcanoes and Earthquakes
Difficulty Level: Hard

65. Explain the ‘Hollywood’ idea that California might ‘fall’ into the ocean. In what way
is this a distortion of what geologists believe will be California’s geologic fate.

Ans: First, California will not fall (downward motion), but will slip laterally along a
transform fault—in this manner millions of years into the future, California will become a
peninsula sticking into the Pacific northwest, eventually becoming an island.
Link To: Another Look at Volcanoes and Earthquakes
Difficulty Level: Hard

66. The text stresses the integration of and interconnectedness of various sciences, in
what way is the modern plate tectonic model a product of scientific integration?

Ans: Answers will vary; the raw data for the model came from many seemingly divergent
fields within the earth sciences before they saw themselves as unified (mineral logy,
paleontology, geomorphology, stratigraphy, structural geology, and even astronomy).

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Chapter 17

Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth


Difficulty Level: Hard

67. From the study of electricity and magnetism from previous chapters. What must be
taking place in the Earth’s interior for the Earth’s magnetic poles to reverse?

Ans: Magnetic fields are created when electrons move in uniform motion—the spinning
metallic core provides the electrons and the uniform motion—so by some mechanism this
would have to stop, and then the motion reverses in order to reverse the magnetic field.
Link To: Plate Tectonics: A Unifying View of Earth
Difficulty Level: Hard

68. Assuming tsunamis are the result of earthquakes alone, and based on the nature of
earthquakes at subduction zones and spreading zones, where would you predict would be
the most likely geography for a large tsunami, the Atlantic Ocean or the Pacific Ocean?
Explain your answer.

Ans: The Pacific would be the most likely because the earthquakes associated with
subduction zones are typically deeper, storing more energy than the shallow, spreading
zone earthquakes.
Link To: The Dynamic Earth
Difficulty Level: Hard

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