Introductory Lesson

Investigate a natural environment. Include natural landscape changes.

Identify how interactions in a natural system lead to change in the appearance of natural environments and the geographic characteristics.
Changes that take place can be slow and steady, like building and erosion of mountains, or continental drift - or rapid, like a tsunami or volcanic eruption.

Volcanoes in Australia?

Mount Gambier ( Eastern South Australia ) Australia's youngest volcano.
A volcano filled with water. Erupted 4,500 years ago
"...volcanic activity must be considered a serious environmental hazard and risk for the Australian mainland. " Source: The risk of volcanic eruption in mainland Australia - E. B. Joyce

The Western Victorian Volcanic Plains are the third largest in the world and exceeded only by the Deccan in western India, and the Snake River Plateau in the United States ( Idaho-Nebraska ).The Victorian Volcanic Plains are located in Western Victoria and covers over 2.3 million ha (10.36% of the State).
It stretches from Portland in the west to Craigieburn in the east and from Clunes in the north to Colac in the south.


Is there a risk of a volcanic eruption in Australia ?


What did the landscape look like before period of volcanic activity?
What might it have looked like during the time that eruptions took place?

Mt St. Helens: US Geological Society Documentary
Pyroclastic Cloud at Unzen Volcano

Lava Flow at Hawaii

Volcano Discovery Centre, Penshurst.

What is going on?
Why did it happen?
How long ago did it happen?
Why did it stop?
Has volcanic activity definitely stopped? How do we know?

Lesson 10

  • Do questions on Ph 8 (#’s 1, 3, and 4). Page 10 #1
  • Have students write a summary of each for homework.
  • Role play list of ideas I will give out to students.
  • One student at a time will go up in front of the class and describe what their term is.
  • In groups they must decide what the term is.


The Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami March 2011


Related links:

What Is a Tsunami?
Tsunami Safety Facts
News: Earthquake in the Indian Ocean Causes a Massive Tsunami

timeline of a tsunami

  1. movement in the Earth's continental plates
  2. build up of tension along a fault
  3. earthquake causes sudden movement of continental plate (or sea floor). (S or P waves)?
  4. small tsunami wave in deep ocean moving fast. (How fast)?
  5. tsunami wave slows down and increases in height near shore.
  6. waters recede on coast
  7. rush of water inland as tsunami strikes

Tsunamis are part of Japanese culture. Why?
Tsunamis are part of Japanese culture. Why?

HW - Find where most volcanoes occur on the Ring Of Fire (Fig. 1.2.2 p38)
and compare frequency of eruptions with Fig 1.2.4 (p31)

Questions and answers from students.

  1. Why has the Fuji mountain grown 8feet?.. Why did Mt Fiji get higher? Mt. Fuji was raised in the earthquake which hit Japan because as the oceanic plate forced its way under the Japanese continental plate it caused the continental plate (of which Mt Fuji is a part) to buckle. Another more sinister cause could be the rising pressure of magma in the volcanoes magma chamber. Lets hope this is not the case, because this precedes an eruption.
  2. How for into land did the water reach?.. The water was reported to travel up to 10 km inland. THis would have been at a low lying part of the coast with a gentle incline, such as where a river meets the sea
  3. How wide was the Tsunami? The Tsunami eventually affected teh whole Pacific ocean. It spread out in concentric circles like the ripples from a stone that has been thrown into the water. The closer a location was to the epicenter the bigger the wave (though there are some other factors which affect its size as well)
  4. Why did the earthquake hit after the tsunami? Tsunamis follow earthquakes if there has been an upward movement in the earth's crust. This movement pushes water away, effectively causing a large wave.
  5. Why did the ash from the volcanos stop the airoplane? THe dense ash cloud that the qantas jet flew through did not allow enough oxygen to enter the engine. It snuffed out the flame.
  6. How much warming time do they have before the Tsunami hit in Japan?.. They had between 30 seconds and a few minutes I believe, however it would depend on how far away from the epicentre the town was and how far inland. I have not found a definitive answer for this question.
  7. Are the earthquakes around the world connected? Yes they are in the sense that they are prompted by movements in the Earth' tectonic plates. If two locations are on the same plate then the quakes are the result of movement on that same plate.
  8. Why does the Richter Scale only go up to 10, is it possible to go over? It is not possible to go over the scale because each level is 10 times greater than the last. At least it is designed not to be possible. I would hate to be anywhere near an earthquake that did go over.
  9. How deep do volcanoes go? Volcanoes go all the way down to the magma... if they are on the continental plate this could be up to 30km.
  10. How hot is lava? Lava is at different temperatures at different depth. It cools quickly at the surface and turns to stone (basalt). When it travels through lava tubes it may be between 1,000 - 2,000 degrees celsius... web refs vary
  11. How many volcanoes are there in the world? The exact number of volcanoes is unknown. It also depends on the definition of a "volcano": for instance, there are "volcanic fields" that comprise hundreds of individual eruption centers (such as conder cones, maars, shield volcanoes) that are all relataed to the same magma chamber and that may or not be counted as a single "volcano". There are probably millions of volcanoes that have been active during the whole lifespan of the earth. During the past 10,000 years, there are about 1500 volcanoes on land that are known to have have been active, while the even larger number of submarine volcanoes is unknown. At present, there are about 600 volcanoes that have had known eruptions during recorded history, while about 50-70 volcanoes are active (erupting) each year. At any given time, there is an average of about 20 volcanoes that are erupting. (


Lesson 11

Introduction of Volcanic Environments


Geographers are interested in the how and why volcanoes erupt, together with the impacts on both people and the end the environment that surrounds them.
Magma - molten rock within the Earth
Solar radiation - sunlight (heat + light)
Atmospheric circulation patterns - wind and weather (like in weather maps)
Active volcanoes - those that have erupted in the last 200 years
Dormant volcano - last erupted between 200 and 10,000 years
Extinct volcano - not erupted in the last 10,000 years
Convection currents - currents caused by rising heat
Continental Crust: how thick? 35 - 50 km. Mostly made of granite. Lighter than oceanic crust. Does not sink.
Oceanic crust: how thick? 5 -10km. Mostly made of basalt.



  • Read page 38 and in your books explain how the hydrosphere, lithosphere, biosphere and the atmosphere affect volcanic environments
  • Read page 38-39 Introduction
  • Look at the locations of volcanos in the world
  • Note the ring of fire
  • Draw Figure 1.2.3 in books
  • Answer questions 1, 2, 4 and 5 on page 41.

Plate Techtonics

Interesting Fact :While many people throughout history have reflected on the mobile nature of the earth's surface, one of the first scientists to put forward a well-documented proposal for the large-scale motion of continents was a German meteorologist named Alfred Wegener. He compiled various lines of evidence supporting the hypothesis that all of earth's continents had been assembled as a single "supercontinent" approximately 250 million years ago.


Search the internet fort he answers to these questions (and then share them with the class).
How fast is...
  1. Australia moving North?
  2. Antarctica moving South?
  3. Is the East African Rift Valley splitting?

When did...
  1. Tower Hill last erupted?
  2. Last volcano erupted in Australia?

Lesson 12

Volcanic Environments - Plate Movements - Subduction

Make an Keynote of an iMovie presentation this lesson to be placed on the wiki about...

  1. Volcanoes in Victoria
  2. The geographic history of Hanging Rock
  3. How tsunami’s form
  4. How ocean floor spreading drives subduction
  5. The effect of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan on the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere in that region.

You may find these google links useful...

  • Draw a diagram of what Subduction, plate movement and the different layers are.

Lesson 13 - 15

Watch movie “Dante’s Peak”
· Discussion of Dante’s Peak movie
· Compare the differences of what we have been learning in our textbooks with the description of the Volcano in the movie
· Go over signs, early evacuation, etc
  • Discuss the Volcanic Activity around Mt. St. Helens and around Tower Hill
Compare volcanos here and in other places

Preparation for Hanging Rock SAC

e.g. Japan Tsunami

Classifying Geographic Environments.
1. Review the four spheres.
  • Lithosphere (type of volcano, rocks, erosion, how is it changing)
  • Hydrosphere (rivers, drainage, dams)
  • Biosphere (animals, plants, people, tourism)
  • Atmosphere (climate)

2. Spatial Characteristics
  • Location
  • Scale
  • Distribution
  • Distance
  • Region
  • Movement
  • Spatial Association
  • Spatial Interaction
  • Spatial Change Over Time