Plate tectonics is a grand unifying theme in Earth science, yet can be challenging for educators in the Midwest to demonstrate because most active processes occur thousands of miles away. But the 2000 km long Midcontinent Rift System is an extraordinary example of plate tectonic processes, and it spans half a dozen states in the Midwest! Most of it is concealed by deposits that have accumulated over the past 1.1 billion years, so much of what we know about the rift comes from geophysics, which is giving exciting new insights into how this ancient feature formed (see Nature News article).

This workshop will show how geophysics is used to map the rift so that educators can better use the Midcontinent Rift System in teaching about the geologic history of the midcontinent and about plate tectonics in general. The workshop will be held in Houghton, Michigan, in the beautiful upper peninsula where rift geology is visible at the surface for comparison with the geophysical data. In addition to examining outcrops from both land and Lake Superior, participants will learn to use seismology, microgravity, and electromagnetics to explore the Earth and teach about plate tectonics.

Join us to...

  1. Create community based informal + formal educator “partnerships”

  2. Experience inquiry-based science as you observe geologic history of the Midcontinent Rift System while touring the Keweenaw Peninsula by both land and water.

  3. Engage in activities while collecting geophysical data within the Keweenaw Peninsula and the Midcontinent Rift System.

  4. Become empowered to teach about plate-tectonics in your backyard.

Mid-Continent Rift System Educator Program    August 10-15, 2014

Columnar joints in flood basalts on Isle Royale. Photo credit: Bill Rose