Plate Tectonics Webquest

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionPDF versionPDF version


Volcanic eruptionVolcanic eruptionAlmost all of the processes that shape our Earth are effected by what is going on deep under the crust. The formation of volcanos is evidence that the inside of the earth is not just solid rock, and the growth of mountains implies immense forces at work to push mountains so high. In fact, the movement of material in the Earth even affects the weather that we have. Some scientists believe that life would not be possible on Earth if it were not for the activity going on miles beneath our feet.


As residents of Earth, it is our responsibility to know how this world works. Fortunately, scientists for years have been studying the Earth and many have put their results on the internet. For your task, search the internet using the links provided and any sites that you find yourself to answer the following questions. Remember, as a resident of Earth it is your resposibility to know how Earth works, and how to live with this dynamic planet. 

At the completion of this webquest you should be able to: Folded mountainsFolded mountains

  • Explain the theory of plate tectonics
  • Indicate some of the evidence that supports the theory of plate tectonics
  • Explain how plate tectonics has shaped the surface of the Earth
  • Determine what kind of plate boundary a given location has
  • Describe the driving force for plate movement


Evidence of EarthquakeEvidence of Earthquake


Process edited 01.28.2014

Use the website links provided, and any others you want, answer the following questions. You are expected to read the text found on the provided websites and to explore the links and any animations/videos that are found on the website as well.  Each group of questions has a recommended website(s) link to search for the answers. Once you have found an answer record the information on the webquest handout and the website(s) that you used.  Well, what are you waiting for...geologize!!!

1. What evidence did Alfred Wegener use to support his theory of continental drift? (6pts)

2. Why do you think people didn't believe continental drift theory when Alfred Wegener first explained it? (2pts)

3. Who were the two scientists that brought forth supporting evidence to Wegener's theory, and what was their evidence? (4pts)

(link for questions 1-3) 

Alfred Wegener

Continental Drift


Alfred Wegener

Plate Tectonics Overview

Plate Tectonics

Early Earth & Plate Tectonics

4.  What are the three different types of plate boundaries?  For each type of plate boundary....(12pts total)

a.  Types of boundary

b.  Describe the movement

c.  draw a diagram that represents each type of boundary

d.  provide an example of a location on Earth where each type of plate boundary is present

5. What are the three different types of convergent plate boundaries?  For each type of convergent boundary...(12pts total)

a. identify the types of crust interacting

b. identify the landform(s)  created 

c. draw a diagram that represents each type of convergent boundary (make sure to include the type of crust interacting)

d. provide an example of a location on Earth where the plate boundary is present 

 (links for questions 4 & 5) 

Plate boundaries

Boundaries' Map

Dynamic Earth


6. What  forces create mountains? (2pts)

(link for question 6 ~ watch both TV video clips)

Mountain building

7 & 8. Decribe why the Hawaiian Islands are found in the middle of the Pacific Plate?  How did the Hawaiian Islands form?

(links for question 8)

Hawaii's Hot Spot

Hot Spots

Hawaiian Island animation

A New Hawaiian Island

CHALLENGE QUESTION:  How old are the rocks off the east coast of North America relative to the rocks right along the mid atlantic ridge, why do you think this is the case?

(link for challenge question)

 Sea-floor spreading



Himalayan MountainsHimalayan Mountains

Possible Points

Points received

Student has answered each question using complete sentences.




Student has given where they found the information in each of their answers.




Extra credit




Student not wandering on computer during class time devoted for webquest.










putting it all togetherputting it all together
It is fascinating to think how unique our planet is. As scientists learn out how dynamic our world is, we find ourselves dependent on the unforeseen and immensely powerful forces at play far beneath the Earth's surface. Everything from the water we drink to the air we breathe can be related back to tectonic forces. Yet, as you discovered during your webquest there are still many unanswered questions. As we learn more and are able to answer these questions we will be able to improve humanities ability to live in harmony with the world around us. As you have seen, many of the natural disasters that plague humanity such as: volcanos, earthquakes, and tsunamis, are all a function of the inner workings of our planet. Being able to predict and live with these events is the task given to you as the future scientists. As the puzzle of plate tectonics and the movement of the Earth are better understood the quality of life on Earth will improve.



Thanks to all the links and assistance used for this activity:Mid Atlantic Ridge IcelandMid Atlantic Ridge Iceland