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USGS Educational Resources for Secondary Grades (7–12)
This Web site contains selected USGS educational resources that may be useful to educators in secondary school grades (Grade 7 to Grade 12). Many of these resources can be used directly in the classroom (see Resource Symbols) or will be useful in classroom lessons or demonstration activities preparation, or as resources for teacher education and curriculum development.
Resource Symbols:

lesson plans - Contains complete teaching module
classroom activities - Contains structured classroom activities

WWW resources - Digital data or images
cost items - Some items must be purchased


Birds of North America Taxonomic List
A table listing birds of North America that is sorted taxonomically (by order, family, and genus).
Invasive and Endangered Species Podcast
This 8-minute podcast provides a nice introduction to the concepts of invasive and endangered species.
Wildlife and Contaminants
A series of lessons targeted to high school students that introduces the topic of ecotoxicology and guides students through the scientific process of gathering raw data and drawing conclusions about the impact of contaminants on wildlife.   
Become a Phenology Observer
The National Phenology Network (sponsored by the USGS) is looking for volunteers to help monitor plant and animal species found across the United States. Learn how to monitor plant and animal phenology and sign up to contribute new observations to the national phenology database. Make this a classroom project!
Whooping Cranes
The USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center has been breeding whooping cranes for release to the wild since 1967. This site has extensive information and Frequently Asked Questions about whooping cranes plus videos and a list of recent articles. Be sure to click on the site map to see fascinating photos and information about raising individual chicks. An additional 16-minute video discusses health, exercise, diet, and training of these birds that were once on the brink of extinction.
Desert Tortoise Film: The Heat is On
Explore the world of the Mojave desert tortoise in a 30-minute film. Learn about desert tortoises, their habitat needs, and what you can do to help them.
Tracking Pacific Walrus: Expedition to the Shrinking Chukchi Sea Ice
This twelve minute video follows walruses in their summer sea ice habitat and shows how USGS biologists use satellite radio tags to track their movements and behavior.

North American Amphibian Monitoring Program (NAAMP)
NAAMP is a collaborative effort that uses volunteers to monitor populations of vocal amphibians. Participants who meet minimum standards are assigned roadside routes where data is collected after dark. This program is currently only active in states in the central and eastern U.S.
USGS Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative (ARMI)
As amphibian populations decline, reports of malformed frogs, toads, and salamanders are increasing. Learn about amphibians as environmental bellwethers and Congressionally-mandated USGS efforts in support of amphibian research and conservation. Links to taxonomy lists, copyright-free photos, and a national amphibian atlas.   

Climate Change
USA National Phenology Network
A partnership that brings together citizen scientists, government agencies, non-profit groups, educators, and students of all ages to monitor the impacts of climate change on plants and animals in the United States. The Web site provides training and resource materials plus opportunities to contribute as an individual or group.
Climate Connections: In a series of brief videos, USGS scientists answer questions from students and the public about climate change: Also listen to a 17 minute podcast about the basics of Climate Change: What's the difference between climate and weather? What is the carbon cycle? What are the impacts of climate change?.
El Niño and La Niña
A brief description of the El Niño phenomenon and graphics showing the differences between El Niño ocean conditions, normal ocean conditions, and La Niña ocean conditions.
Deserts—Geology and Resources
A publication written for the general public, it describes how deserts form, types of deserts, and landscape features typically associated with deserts. Learn about desertification as an indicator of climate change.
Volcanic Gas
A fact sheet describing gases released by volcanoes. Volcanic gases contribute to the ongoing evolution of the atmosphere.
Climate Change Lectures
Online videotaped lectures given at USGS science centers that are related to climate change. Each lecture is 60-90 minutes long (including question/answer period). Most are suitable for high school audiences.
Melting Glaciers: Before and After Photographs
The USGS Repeat Photography Project for Glacier National Park pairs historic images of glaciers with striking contemporary photos to give global warming a face and make climate change a relevant issue.
Greenhouse Gases Classroom Activity
Students observe and contrast thermal properties of three major greenhouse changes over time for dry air, water saturated air, carbon dioxide, and methane.

Lessons on the Lake: An Educator's Guide to the Pontchartrain Basin
Louisiana's Lake Pontchartrain Basin is home to 1.5 million people and an estuary ecosystem with enormous biodiversity. Activities in the educator's guide help students in grades 5-12 gain an understanding and appreciation of the Basin and teaches them the skills to identify environmental concerns, make changes, and solve problems.
Land and People
Students look at interactions between people and the environment in three regions of the United States: Cape Cod, Los Angeles, and the Everglades. Targeted to grades 7-12.
Interactive San Francisco Bay Data
Look at plots of data collected from the water of San Francisco Bay, then generate your own plots using real data. How does a change in light penetration compare to water temperature? Does a change in salinity correspond with a change in chlorophyll?


Online Maps of the United States
USGS Education Map Catalog
Browse samples of USGS maps that are popular with educators. Order paper copies through this site. Where available, links are provided to pdf versions that can be freely downloaded. (Navigate to this site on your own by going to the USGS Store and clicking on "Education Products")    
Printable Outline Maps of States (plus reference maps and more!)
Download hundreds of reference maps for individual states and for all of the United States. These are specifically designed to print on 8.5"x11" paper for classroom use. Includes unlabeled outline maps of the U.S. Formerly available on the National Atlas website.

Map Teaching Resources
Topographic Map Resources for Teachers
An overall summary of useful USGS resources for working with topographic maps: where to get them; how to interpret them; how to use them; explanations of coordinates, datums, and projections; and lessons for the classroom.
Exploring Maps
Exploring Maps is an interdisciplinary set of materials on mapping for grades 7-12.  Students will learn basic mapmaking and map-reading skills and will see how maps can answer fundamental geographic questions.  The map images and activities in this packet can be used in various courses, including geography, history, math, art, English, and the sciences.   
Topographic Salad Tray Model
An inexpensive and easy way to create a three-dimensional model using topographic map contours.
Map Projections
Every map projection has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Learn about the eighteen most common map projections and how their properties and uses compare. A popular poster version of this information is available for free through the USGS Store (product number 16573).

Topographic Maps
27 Ideas for Teaching with Topographic Maps
Contains 27 ideas for teaching with the approximately 57,000 topographic maps that the USGS offers.   
Map Mysteries
Sample questions to use with USGS topographic and thematic maps as starting points to uncover mysteries about the cultural and physical geography of the Earth.
Corn Maze Geography
Visit a corn maze and use these activities to learn about maps and geography.
Finding Your Way with a Map and Compass
A brief description of how to navigate using a compass and topographic maps.   
How to Use a Compass with a USGS Topographic Map
Learn to navigate using a topographic map and a compass.
Topographic Maps Illustrating Physiographic Features
Topographic maps can be used to study a wide range of physical features in the United States. This helps students learn about the geologic evolution of the Nation's natural landscapes and shows how topographic maps reveal more about the land surface than just its shape and elevation. Roam your cursor across maps and images on this online viewer to learn about selected features of the American landscape.
Map Symbols
An explanation of topographic maps and map symbols.
Free Digital USGS Topographic Map Quadrangles
Click on "Map Locator & Downloader" to download free USGS topographic map quadrangles in georeferenced PDF (GeoPDF) format. Paper copies (a cost product) can be ordered at the same location.
125 Years of USGS Topographic Maps
December, 2009 marked the 125th anniversary of the USGS Topographic Mapping Program.
US Topo: The Next Generation Topographic Map
Do you teach about maps, or do you use them in the classroom? The USGS has a new map series called the US Topo. Modeled on the old topographic series, these maps are derived from digital data that allow the entire contiguous U.S. to be remapped every three years. Download free digital US Topo maps through the Map Locator. Download PDF files of traditional topographic maps at the same site.

Map Tools
USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS)
GNIS contains information for almost 2 million physical and cultural geographic features in the United States and its territories. Query the database to find individual features and their corresponding coordinates. Search results include links to online air photos and topographic maps containing the feature.
Elevations and Distances
Tables of information covering elevations of features and distances between points in the United States . Also locates the geographic center of each state.   
Map-It: Form-based Simple Map Generator
Enter the longitude and latitude of points to plot on a simple map. Download a postscript version of the resulting map.   

Satellite Imagery
Tracking Change over Time
Enhance students' learning of geography, map reading, earth science, and problem solving through landscape changes recorded by satellites in space.
USGS is a partner in AmericaView, which has lesson plans and other education resources for working with satellite imagery. Mostly targeted to grades 6-12.
Satellite Image Gallery
A special collection of satellite images that record beautiful sights, events of historic significance, and scenes that stir the imagination. Includes the 'Earth as Art' collection. All images can be downloaded for free as high-resolution JPEG files.
Free USGS Satellite Images
Most USGS satellite images are now available for free download. Download an entire scene containing all bands and metadata in a single zipped file. Access the data through EarthExplorer or the more user-friendly GloVis Viewer.
Currently only works in Internet Explorer. A mesmerizing, near-real time viewer that displays data received from the Landsat 5 and Landsat 7 satellites as they pass over the United States.
Earthshots: Satellite Images of Environmental Change
Before-and-after satellite images of environmental change events. The image sets include detailed descriptions of what occurred, a list of references, and a question/answer.
Satellite Image of Your State
Download and print a spectacular free image of your state created by combining satellite imagery with the National Elevation Dataset.

Download or Purchase USGS Maps and Satellite Imagery
USGS Store
A quick and easy way to find and order printed USGS products: paper maps, books, and other publications. Also use this site to download free 1:24K, 1:100K and 1:250K topographic maps for anywhere in the U.S. in GeoPDF format, and to browse educational products. Teacher discounts are available for some purchases.
Free downloads of digital USGS data including satellite imagery, digital aerial photos, and cartographic products. Some high-resolution scans of air photography must still be purchased. Locate products by name, coordinates, or define on a map.
Global Visualization Viewer (GloVis)
The most user-friendly method for browsing and ordering Landsat, Terra ASTER, MODIS, and EO-1 satellite images and NAPP photography. Allows convenient preview of images and scene mosaics. All USGS satellite imagery is available through this Web site.

Land Use History and Changing Landscapes
Land Use History of North America
Describes the historical and on-going changes in land use and land cover for several regions around the U.S. The section on Land Use Changes in the Southwestern U.S. A section for teachers is under construction.
USGS Urban Dynamics Research Program
Describes a project that analyzes land use change in urban environments in order to provide a historical perspective of land use change and an assessment of the spatial patterns, rates, correlation, trends, and impacts of that change. Includes links to computer animations of urban growth in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Baltimore-Washington Area.
Urban Growth in American Cities
An on-line publication that illustrates the spatial history of urban growth in sixteen areas around the U.S. and the corresponding land use change. Images can be downloaded as GIF files.
Analyzing Land Use Change in Urban Environments (PDF)
Four-page USGS Fact Sheet describing and illustrating the need for urban growth studies.
Earthshots: Satellite Images of Environmental Change
Earthshots is an e-book of before-and-after Landsat images (1972-present), showing recent environmental events and introducing the concept of remote sensing. Some changes are due to natural causes and some are due to human causes. Each set of images includes a detailed description, photographs and maps, a list of references, and a question/answer. Images are best used on-line.   

Thematic Maps
USGS Map Catalog: Culture and History
Click on "Education Products" then "Culture and History" to browse maps related to the exploration, history, and cultural resources of the United States. Most of these maps can be purchased in paper format. Map titles include:
  • Indian Land Areas Judicially Established
  • Indian Land Areas
  • Indian Lands in the United States
  • Early Indian Tribes, Culture Areas, and Linguistic Stocks
  • Lewis and Clark: A Legacy of Science
  • Routes of the Principal Explorers
  • 1857 Map of the USA
  • An Emerging Nation (first map of the United States, made in 1784)
  • Electing the President (political map for 2000)
  • Public Land Surveys Map (1776 through 1965)
  • Outline Map of the United States
Federal Lands and Indian Reservations - Printable Maps
Maps showing Federal lands and Indian Reservations for the entire U.S. or individual states. Maps print on 8.5"x11" paper.   



A Brief Introduction to Geomagnetism
The USGS uses ground-based observatories to provide continuous records of the Earth's magnetic field variations. This simplified description uses images and a time-laps animation to explain phenomena created by the magnetic field that can be easily monitored and studied.
Journey Along a Field Line
A sixteen-page comic book about the Earth's magnetic field. Travel down through the interior of the earth then back up into the ionosphere to learn how the magnetic field works.

Astronomy and Astrogeology
Browse maps and images of planets and moons,
What Is A Bolide?
Learn how an asteroid impact may have contributed to a mass extinction and led to the formation of Chesapeake Bay.
Planetary Image Locator Tool (PILOT)
Easy access to NASA spacecraft images of moons and planets.

Plate Tectonics
This Dynamic Earth: the Story of Plate Tectonics
"This Dynamic Earth" is one of the most recommended and referenced primers on plate tectonics. Topics include a history of the theory, scientific developments that spurred its development, the mechanics of plate motions, and the relationship of hotspots to plate tectonic theory. A companion best-selling map, "This Dynamic Planet", is also available online or in print.   
This Dynamic Planet
Plate tectonics are fully illustrated on this best-selling world map (a companion to "This Dynamic Earth: the Story of Plate Tectonics") showing the locations of plate boundaries, volcanoes, earthquakes, and impact craters. Detailed ocean floor bathymetry and discussions of fundamental components are also featured. A paper version is available for purchase or the map can be downloaded free in PDF format.   
The Interior of the Earth
This booklet is an introductory guide to what is known about the interior of our planet.
Major Tectonic Plates of the World
A simple map of the major tectonic plates of the world (scroll to page 35). Another simple map is here.
How to Build a Model Illustrating Sea-Floor Spreading and Subduction
Build a three-dimensional model using a shoe box.
Plate Tectonics Tennis Ball Globe
Create a mini globe that shows the major plate boundaries of the world (scroll to page 15).

Geologic Maps
What is a Geologic Map?
A brief overview of geologic maps and how they're made
National Geologic Map Database
This exhaustive database provides bibliographic access to many thousands of geologic, geophysical, and other kinds of maps available in USGS publication, Web sites, and in popular science journals, etc.   
Tapestry of Time and Terrain
Shaded relief and geology are combined on this map of the 48 conterminous states. It's a useful resource for discussing physiographic provinces and rocks deposited during different geologic time periods. Download a free PDF or purchase a paper version through the USGS Store. Both versions include an 18-page pamphlet. This is one of the most eye-catching maps produced by the USGS.
The North America Tapestry of Time and Terrain
Reveals the geologic history of North America through the interrelation of rock type, topography, and time. Regional surface processes as well as continent-scale tectonic events are exposed in the three dimensions of space and the fourth dimension, geologic time.
Geology of the Southern Appalachian Mountains
Created for use in high school and college classrooms, this double-sided USGS map consists of a geologic map, photographs of geologic features, diagrams of plate movement, and more. The map is a companion to The Southern Appalachians, a Changing World and the brochure Birth of the Mountains.

Rocks and Minerals
Schoolyard Geology
Structured activities use man-made features that are found in a typical schoolyard to demonstrate geologic principles.
The Lifecycle of a Mineral Deposit
A teacher's guide for hands-on mineral education activities. Designed to meet the National Science Standards, this product includes 10 activity-based learning exercises that educate students on basic geologic concepts; the processes of finding, identifying, and extracting the resources from a mineral deposit; and the uses of minerals. Geared for fifth through eighth grade science teachers..   
Collecting Rocks
Learn about different types of rocks and how to identify and collect them.
Metal Recycling
How much metal does the U.S. recycle each year? Annual statistics and information about specific metals can be found here.
Learn about the occurrence and production of various gemstones in the United States. The site is organized by state and gemstone.
Mineral Commodity Statistics and Information
Statistics and information about the worldwide supply of, demand for, and flow of minerals and materials essential to the U.S. economy, the national security, and protection of the environment.
Rocks and Minerals
Introductory information about rocks and minerals with a glossary of commonly-used geology terms.
Mineral Resources Online Spatial Data
Easy access to maps and data related to geology and minerals. To find information about your county, click on "Geographic Area: United States", then select your state and county. For a simple geologic map of your state, click on the "Geological data" tab at top, then "Geologic maps of US States"
Historic Events in Minerals and Materials
A review of significant changes in industries that consume metals and industrial minerals. It includes a timeline showing major achievements in mineral production and events that affected the U.S. mineral industry. These are related to overall U.S. mineral consumption and years of war or recession.
Minerals in our Environment
A color poster (approximate dimensions 36 x 60 inches) showing how we use minerals in our everyday life.
Mineral Resources: Out of the Ground...Into our Daily Lives
This poster shows the common usage of mineral resources in our homes, offices, and equipment we use daily.
Mineral Use in Safety Applications in the Workplace
Find more examples of common uses for minerals.
Building Stones of Our Nation's Capital
Descriptions and examples of all the kinds of stone used in the buildings and monuments in the Washington DC area. Discusses the impact of acid precipitation on our national landmarks. An abbreviated and updated version of this publication is available as a 2-page fact sheet.
The Living Rock: The Earth's Continental Crust
This 1-hour film provides a global tour of geologic processes through the eyes of several USGS scientists.
Mineral Commodity Fact Sheets
Two-page, easily-understood fact sheets about important mineral commodities. Learn where each mineral comes from, how it's used, and why it's important
Gold—Why is gold such an important mineral?
A 23-page booklet giving a brief history of gold mining and the "gold fever" that has endured for centuries of civilizations.
Mineral Resource of the Month
How is a specific mineral used in the United States? How much of that mineral is produced? These questions are answered in this series of two-page articles written for over sixty different minerals.
Do We Take Minerals for Granted?
Did you know that the average automobile contains 42 lbs of copper? Use this site to learn about the everyday use of minerals, minerals and the environment, mineral supplies, and much more. An additional report on Geology and Nonfuel Mineral deposits of the United States is an excellent source of information, page size maps, and illustrations of the geologic processes.

What's in My Soil? Classroom Activity
Students separate, examine and identify the major components of soil to better understand how these components give soil its unique physical characteristics.
Introduction to Soils
This complete lesson plan teaches students how soils develop and provides links between soils, climate, vegetation, and geology. Includes materials for both teachers and students (handout, puzzle, field and lab sheets).
Graded Bedding Classroom Activity
Students are introduced to the concept of graded bedding, in which particles are sorted by size as they settle out of suspension. Students will discover that water is a good medium to separate and sort particles, and that particles have different behaviors in water and air.

Fossils and Earth History
Fossils, Rocks, and Time
This general guide provides an overview of geologic time and the use of fossils to determine the age of layers in the earth.
Our Changing Continents
This general interest publication provides an overview of how North America's landscape has changed through geologic time.
Geologic Time
A brief online booklet that explains how the geologic time scale is defined and how the age of the earth is determined.
Geologic Age
Students investigate radioactivity as a tool for measuring geologic time.
The Geologic Time Spiral - A Path to the Past
The centerfold illustration from the popular USGS pamphlet "Geologic Time" is now available as a downloadable poster in both page-size and poster-size resolutions. This diagram is a wonderful representation of the age of the Earth from its creation, through the different geologic eras, and up to the present. Perfect for classroom walls!

Caverns and Caves
USGS Karst Web site
Information about USGS research on karst aquifers, which are a vital ground-water resource in the United States.
Karst in the United States: A Digital Map Compilation and Database
Digital maps delineating areas of the U.S. having karst or the potential for development of karst. All 50 states contain rocks with potential for karst development.
Karst Topography - Teacher's Guide and Paper Model
A brief description of karst topography with glossary and questions to ask students. The paper model must be downloaded separately.
A two-page fact sheet about sinkholes and their catastrophic occurrence in Missouri.

Coastal Environments
Coastal Landforms and Processes at the Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts: A Primer
[Although this targets Cape Cod, many of the concepts can be applied to coastal processes in other locations.] Written as an educational guide for the general public. Covers basic coastal processes; landform changes, sea-level change, wind and weather, waves, and tides. Many illustrations.
The Fragile Fringe: A Guide for Teaching about Coastal Wetlands (from the USGS National Wetlands Research Center)
Material to use for developing a comprehensive study of coastal wetlands.  Includes background information, suggested activities, glossary, references, and reading list. Activities can be demonstrated by the teacher or performed by students. Emphasis is on Gulf Coast wetlands.   
Wise Wetland Ways
Teachers use wetland "artifacts" to stimulate a discussion about how we benefit from wetlands (see back of poster).
Coasts in Crisis
Describes types of coasts (rocky shores, sandy beaches, coastal wetlands, and coral reefs) and discusses processes that affect beaches and coastlines including waves, tides, weather, water-level changes, coastal vegetation, and human activities.

Natural Hazards
Natural Hazards Gateway
Provides many links and resources to USGS information related to earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, landslides, tsunamis, volcanoes, and wildfires.

Learning Page for USGS Earthquake Hazards
The best starting point for education links related to USGS earthquake science. There are separate sections for Educators and Kids, plus animations, photos, FAQs, and earthquake basics. Use the top menu to navigate to earthquake data and a realtime earthquake map.
Earthquake Science Explained: Ten Short Articles for Students, Parents, and Families
A series of short articles for students, teachers, and parents originally published as aweekly newspaper feature. Concepts introduced in each feature are designed to address state and national science education standards. Written by USGS scientists, the articles go beyond traditional textbook information to discuss state-of-the-art thinking and technology that we use today.   
A 20-page online booklet that explains the nature and causes of earthquakes. Describes techniques used to detect, record, measure, and predict seismic disturbances.
The Severity of an Earthquake
The severity of an earthquake can be expressed in terms of both intensity and magnitude. Learn the difference between these two terms and how the scales are determined.
Earthquake Maps
Database of online maps and paper maps showing seismic hazards, earthquakes, and faults.     
National Seismic Hazard Maps
Regional maps of projected ground motion and shaking intensity, plus interactive tools for creating custom hazard maps and custom earthquake probability maps  
Quaternary Faults and Fold Database of the United States
This Web site contains information on faults and associated folds in the United States that are believed to be sources of M>6 earthquakes during the Quaternary (the past 1,600,000 years). Maps of these geologic structures are linked to detailed descriptions and references. Many of the faults described in this database are in California.   
Earthquake Summary Posters
View and download posters that provide detailed information and a brief discussion about large earthquakes soon after they occur. Images include the epicentral area, plate tectonic environment, earthquake history, and generalized seismic hazard of the region. The posters serve as a one-stop-shop for information about large earthquakes that have occurred since 2002.
The Great Alaska Earthquake and Tsunami of March 27, 1964
Explore numerous resources created for the 50th anniversary of the second largest earthquake ever recorded and the tsunami that it created. Watch videos, animations, archival film, and a public lecture; read short fact sheets and summaries; and delve into historical photographs. An interactive "story map" of 1964 Anchorage is an especially good way to engage students.
Putting Down Roots In Earthquake Country
Booklets written for the general public to explain everything that residents need to know about earthquakes in their area: Where are the faults and what are the dangers? Why is it important to prepare? How do I prepare for a significant earthquake?
How to Read a Seismogram
Ever wonder how to read the data on a USGS seismogram? Learn the basics in a 4-minute video tutorial. Practice with real-time seismogram displays, and check out this visualization of a shaking building compared to the siesmogram. [Note: the terms "seismogram", "heliplot", and "webicorder" are essentially interchangeable]
Earthquake Probability Map for San Francisco Bay Area and for all of California.
Maps showing the probability of significant earthquakes on each of the major faults.
The San Andreas Fault
This general interest publication describes the San Andreas Fault system and its history of earthquakes.
Earthquakes In and Near the Northeastern United States, 1638-1998
This thematic map documents earthquake activity in the northeastern United States from the time of the first settlers. A companion fact sheet is also available for download.
New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812
Several of the largest historical earthquakes to strike the continental U.S. occurred in the winter of 1811-1812 along the New Madrid Seismic Zone, which stretches from just west of Memphis, Tennessee into southern Illinois. Download and print the Bicentennial of the 1811-1812 New Madrid Earthquake Sequence poster, and learn more about earthquakes in the central United States with the fact sheet Earthquake Hazard in the Heart of the Homeland.
FAQs about Earthquakes, Faults, Plate Tectonics, and Earth Structure
Tabletop Earthquakes
Construct a simple earthquake machine to demonstrate the principles of seismology. Includes supporting instructional material.   

Tsunamis & Earthquakes
The best starting point for information about tsunamis. Follow links to basic information and an amazing list of animations and simulations.
Can it Happen Here?
Could a tsunami happen in the Unites States? Here's what we know about tsunamis that have struck our coasts in the past.
Life of a Tsunami
A very basic explanation of how earthquakes can trigger a tsunami. Includes diagrams.
Surviving a Tsunami-Lessons from Chile, Hawaii, and Japan
This on-line publication describes the causes and impacts of large tsunamis, with examples from around the Pacific Rim.
The Orphan Tsunami of 1700—Japanese Clues to a Parent Earthquake in North America
Follow along with scientists as they discover clues about a mysterious tsunami that struck Japan in 1700. Could it have originated from a large earthquake in North America? Learn how we use the past to help warn of future hazards. Also watch an archived public lecture about this tsunami.

USGS Landslide Hazards Program - Learning and Education
The best starting point for Landslide information. Quick links to "Landslides 101", photos, glossary, hazards, and preparedness.
Landslide Types and Processes
This four-page fact sheet provides a brief introduction to types of landslides and mass movement associated with gravity and stream floods.
The Landslide Handbook—A Guide to Understanding Landslides
What is a landslide? Where do they occur? What causes them? How are they monitored? How can they be prevented? All these questions are answered in this 129-page publication. Written for a general audience, it is heavily illustrated with diagrams and photographs.
Landslide Hazards
A two-page fact sheet with basic information about landslide hazards and safety issues related to wet weather conditions in landslide-prone areas.
Map of Landslides in the Conterminous United States
Download PDF files of maps showing the locations of debris flow (landslide) areas in the United States.
Riding the Storm—Landslide Danger in the San Francisco Bay Area
A catastrophic 1982 rainstorm triggered 18,000 landslides in the Bay Area, claiming 25 lives and causing $66 million in property damage. Learn what USGS scientists have discovered in the last two decades about landslide dynamics and which slopes are most susceptible to sliding.

Volcano Hazards Web Site
The starting point for all USGS volcano science. Interact with a real-time status map of U.S. volcanoes and follow links to a Resource Page for Educators, photos, web cams, volcano lists and information, and simple descriptions of volcano hazards. For region-specific information, explore the USGS websites for:
Living with a Volcano in your Backyard
A three-unit guide that provides science content and inquiry-based activities about volcanoes of the Cascade Range for middle-school students, with an emphasis on Mount Ranier. Includes more than 30 activities, a field guide, glossary, and supplementary information.
A 45-page online booklet that summarizes basic information about volcanoes: their types, different kinds of eruptions, related features, volcano research, and more.
Geologic Hazards at Volcanoes
Download a pdf file of this 18"x27" poster showing a diagram of a cut-away volcano and the various hazards associated with volcanoes either during or between eruptions. The poster can also be ordered for free through the USGS Store ($5.00 handling fee). Product number 208285.
Eruptions in the Cascade Range During the Past 4,000 Years
Download a pdf file of this 20" x 24" poster showing a timeline of eruptions in the Cascade Range. The poster can also be ordered for free through the USGS Store ($5.00 handling fee). Product number 208284.
Mount St. Helens, 1980 to Now
On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens Volcano exploded violently, causing the worst volcanic disaster in the history of the United States. The right-side menu has links to six downloadable (MP4) video clips about the 1980 eruption, volcano monitoring, and volcanic processes. Download and print a poster: 30 Cool Facts about Mount St. Helens (free through the USGS Store).
Predict an Eruption!
This highly interactive site uses animations, illustrations, activities, and quizzes to show how eruptions at Mount St. Helens were accurately predicted by USGS scientists, then allows students to predict an actual eruption using real data.
Alaska Volcanoes Guidebook for Teachers
Over a third of Alaska's 140 volcanoes have been active in the last 300 years. This online publication has chapters covering the tectonic setting, rocks, eruption styles, landforms, community impact, effect on climate, and monitoring of Alaska's volcanoes. Each chapter has 3-4 detailed classroom activities for grades 6-12 and many supplemental materials. Many of these activities can be applied to volcanoes in other locations!
Eruptions of Hawaiian Volcanoes - Past, Present and Future
Written for a general audience and richly illustrated with diagrams and photographs, this report describes the eruptive history of two of Hawai'i's active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa.
Volcanic Ash
What is volcanic ash? How does it affect agriculture, transportation, communications, water supplies, and human health? Learn all this and more at the USGS Volcanic Ash Web site.
Yes! Yellowstone is a Volcano
The USGS Scientist-in-Charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory answers basic questions about Yellowstone in three online videos, each lasting about seven minutes. The video shows an excerpt of our Caldera Demonstration Model, which can be reenacted in the classroom.

Use this interactive map to view the locations and boundaries of past and present wildfires.


General Water
USGS Water Science School
The best starting point for a wealth of general information about water science. What is water? What are its properties and how are they measured? How is water used? How does the USGS measure streamflow and collect water samples? A glossary, picture gallery, and activity center are among the many additional features.
Education Page from the USGS Water Resources Program
A comprehensive list of water-related materials created for the classroom and for the general public.
USGS Water Data Discovery
Go here to find historical and real-time water data for classroom use. For data from a specific river or stream, the interactive National Water Information System Mapper is a good starting point.
Science in Your Watershed
Find scientific information about your local watershed. Information is from the USGS and many other organizations. Includes links to educational information from many of those agencies.
Water Use in the United States
How much water do we use in the United States? How do those numbers change over a 5 year period?
Hands-on Experiments to Test for Acid Mine Drainage
Fourteen very basic exercises use home-made litmus paper and household items to test creek water for acid mine drainage and to look at plants, bacteria, and insects living in the water.
Ask a River to Text You with a WaterAlert
Incorporate real-time data in the classroom by receiving instant, customized updates about water conditions at a specific river through WaterAlert.
Water Education Posters
Download and print a series of nine posters with connecting cartoons that illustrate nine different water concepts: Coastal Hazards, Watersheds, Hazardous Waste, Wetlands, Water Use, Wastewater, Navigation, Groundwater, and Water Quality. Classroom activities targeted to middle school students are on the back sides of the posters:

USGS Groundwater Information Page
This gateway to ground water information and data is an excellent starting point for learning about groundwater. Includes links to maps, real-time data, ground water basics, publications, and selected topics.
What is Ground Water?
A very simple explanation of ground water and aquifers. Diagrams are included.
Ground Water
A short booklet that describes how groundwater occurs and how its quality is assessed. Contains a good glossary.
Outreach Notebook for Groundwater
Five groundwater-related lesson plans for grades 6-8, complete with forms, diagrams, and supporting information. Although these were designed to be taught by an instructor and a water professional working together, a thoughtful educator could easily handle the lessons on their own.
Ground Water Atlas of the United States
Learn about the ground-water resources of regional areas that collectively cover the U.S. and its territories. Text and maps are used to describe the climate, physiography, geology, land use, major aquifers, and ground-water withdrawals for each region.
Aquifer Basics
An aquifer is an underground layer of permeable rock, sediment, or soil that yields water. This site describes different kinds of aquifers and where they are located.
Sustainability of Ground-Water Resources
Ground water provides about 40 percent of the Nation's public water supply. Written for the general public, this publication contains numerous diagrams and maps.
Groundwater and Surface Water - A Single Resource
Written for the general public, this online publication includes a chapter on the hydrologic cycle and has many excellent diagrams that illustrate the interactions of groundwater and surface water. Discusses issues related to water supply, water quality, and degradation of aquatic environments.
Ground Water and the Rural Homeowner
Written for the general public, this heavily illustrated 36-page booklet describes groundwater issues that might impact students who get their water from wells, such as water-level declines and contamination.

USGS Flood Information
The best starting point for information about current and past floods. Includes links to alerts, maps, photographs, and videos.
Large Floods in the United States: Where they Happen and Why (Circular 1245)
A 13-page on-line publication that describes the geographic and climatic factors that influence the occurrence and impacts of large floods in the United States.
Significant Floods in the United States During the 20th Century - USGS Measures a Century of Floods
During the 20th century, floods were the number-one natural disaster in the United States in terms of the number of lives lost and property damage. This 4-page fact sheet briefly describes the different types of floods and lists the 32 most significant floods during the 20th century.
What is a 100-Year Flood?
The term "100-year flood" is part of the national lexicon, but is often a source of confusion. Download and/or print this free poster that attempts to explain the concept, probabilistic nature, and inherent uncertainties of the "100-year flood" to the layman. Print full-size at 44" x 38" or on 11" x 17" paper.
Size and Occurrence of Floods
Students use macaroni or beans to calculate the statistics of floor recurrence (see back side of poster).
USGS FAQs on Floods and Droughts
Frequently Asked Questions about floods and droughts.

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