Teaching Students Plate Tectonics and Seafloor Magmatism Using Ocean Observing Initiative (OOI) Data and Resources

Benjamin R Jordan, Brigham Young University - Hawaii, Laie, HI, United States and Charles Sage Lichtenwalner, Rutgers University, Marine and Coastal Sciences, New Brunswick, NJ, United States
The Ocean Observing Initiative (OOI) consists of a network of scientific sensor arrays established within the North and South Atlantic, Northern Pacific, and Southern oceans by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The arrays consist of 83 platforms and gliders, containing approximately 830 instruments, which collect data on a continuous basis. This provides hundreds of thousands of data points related to current and past conditions. This wealth of data is accessible not just to researchers, but also to educators and students, providing the means for students to experiment with and explore real-world data.

As part of the OOI, data labs for students have been developed and made accessible online at the OOI website. Two of these labs have been developed for students to explore magmatic processes and plate tectonics in the northwest Pacific area of the United States. The first of these labs allows students to examine bathymetric and earthquake data associated with the Axial Seamount volcano for the time period of 24 March to 24 May 2015, which was a period during which a major eruption occurred at the volcano. Students note changes in the number of earthquakes and depth over that time period and make interpretations of what is happening within the volcano before and after the eruption by synthesizing the information from the two data sets. They will also have the ability to toggle between the raw and processed bathymetric pressure data in order to see why data processing is necessary. During the second data lab, students have the ability to observe earthquake epicenter locations relative to seafloor features. They first observe and identify seafloor features by digitally zooming and panning. Then, using a digital slider, they can overlay and propagate earthquake epicenters, relative to time, within the field of view. Students then do their best to relate the features that they identified with the plate tectonic processes indicated by the earthquakes. Finally, they use their synthesis of the observations and earthquake data to infer potential seismic and tsunami hazards in the Pacific Northwest.