Geology of Borah Peak

Investigating the Geological Evidence Following the 1983 Borah Peak Earthquake Along the Lost River Range Fault

Participating Teacher Derived Lessons and Activities

Borah Peak Earthquake

Rod Barcklay: Rocky Mountain Academy, Bonners Ferry, Id

I. Begin with thirty minutes of general class discussion about earthquakes. Teacher may begin discussion with questions:

    A. What is an earthquake?
    B. Who has felt one? (show of hands)
    C. Ask those that have experienced an earthquake to describe what they felt and what they saw.
    D. Do they know what to do if we had one now?

II. Divide students into groups of two. Have them define or describe what they think the following terms mean.

  6.Fault Scarp
15.Richter Scale
16.Mercalli Scale

III. Show Borah Peak Earthquake slide set 
       (Some are available on the 1995 Borah Peak Workshop page, full set available from the Idaho Geological Survey's main office)

IV. Divide students into groups of two or three. 
 Students work together with: "City Intensity Reports from the Borah Peak Earthquake" as though they were getting the reports.
  Continue with groups working with activity: "Earthquake Magnitude vs Intensity". Maybe assigned as take home - closure the
  following day.

Cooperative Learning Lesson Plans - Geology of Borah Peak

Cooperative leaning refers to a set of instructional methods where students learn in small groups of mixed-abilities. Usually groups have four members - one low, one high, and two average achievers. The students in each group are responsible for not only learning the material presented, but also for helping others in the group to learn. Groups may also work for a described goal.

Although there is a formal criterion for facilitating group learning, there are many instructional options and strategies to choose from, depending on the subject matter. Students might solve problems and then compare answers while discussing and resolving discrepancies, if any. Students can drill one another on vocabulary or for an up-coming presentation. The group may also work together to research information. Students are encouraged to explain ideas or skills to each other - not to give answers.

Students may take individual quizzes where they cannot help one another. The scores from these quizzes will contribute to a team score. Team scores tell the teacher and the students if they are improving over time.

Hopefully by working toward a common goal academic work becomes valued by peers not just the teachers or the high achievers. Cooperative learning also motivates students to help one another learn. Kids will often translate "teacher language" into "kid language" for each other. The children doing the explaining are learning because that have to organize their thoughts to accomplish this.

Students are encouraged to share information and cooperate as a team so individuals are not left to fend for themselves. If a wrong answer is given, it does not necessarily have to reflect on the individual but on the group as a whole.

Social skills and expected behaviors that students are encouraged to model in groups are as follows:
  * Contribute ideas
  * Praise others and encourage participation
  * Criticize ideas not the person.
  * Be on time.
  * Listen to others.
  * Ask for help.
  * Reach a consensus.

The information just presented is an overview of cooperative learning. There are also methods to assist the teacher in building the will and skills within the groups so team effort works. There is naturally freedom to modify and mix teaching styles to fit differing environments, subjects, and mixes of students. Cooperative learning is just one tool that may be used in conjunction with many others. The amount of time allowed to use the cooperative model in the classroom may vary. However, 60% seems to be an accepted norm for those who use it.

If the lessons are challenging and/or interesting, learning in groups can be more fun than working alone!

Lesson 1   Earthquake Magnitude vs Intensity and Tectonics

Method:  Jigsaw
Object:    To allow 3 groups of students to read, absorb, solve problems, and present lessons to the class with each person
                sharing a piece of he puzzle.
Time:      Approximately 1 hour to research and prepare each lesson with 45 minutes for three groups to present. Also,
                20 minutes for the quiz and 10 minutes to trade and correct papers.
                Copies of "Calculating the Richter Magnitude of a Local Earthquake" for each member in Group A.
                Copies of "Earthquake Magnitude vs Intensity" for each member in Group B.
                Copies of "The Tectonic Setting for Idaho Earthquakes" for each member of Group C.
                Geologic map of Idaho (color poster)
                Groups A, B, and C will choose a reader and a recorder. The other two students in each group will split the lesson presentation. In addition, Group C will be asked to make two color charts: one showing the Northwest U.S. featuring the Blanco Fracture and Gorda Ridge. The other map would be a color map of a cross section from the Gorda Ridge northwest to the east boundary of Yellowstone Park. This chart will delineate the subduction zone, spreading zone, Idaho Batholith, and various other features including the Yellowstone Hotspot. This group will also be asked to mane the five (5) major faults that could cause substantial earthquakes in Idaho and point them out on their acute fault map. These charts will be used in making their presentation to the class.

All groups will also be asked to make up three (3) challenging questions to be combined later with three (3) questions the the teachers will make up for a quiz that will consist of twelve (12) questions. Students will have a half hour to study and review information from each group. The quiz will be given at the end of the half hour study time.

Lesson 2  Creating a Simple Geologic Map

Method:         Cooperative Group Learning
Prerequisite:  Lessons on rock and mineral identification.
                       Lessons on metamorphic and sedimentary rocks.
                       Optional: Lessons on faulting with dip/strike but would make lesson more interesting.
Objectives:    a. To work as a group and learn to cooperate with others to solve a complex task.
                       b. Understand how paleontologists, working with a set of data, might construct a simple geologic field map.
                       c. Identify ten (10) various fossils using handouts provided by teacher and several reference books.
                       d. Identify several igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks.
                       e. Date rocks using index fossils.
                       f. Locate rocks using coordinates provided.
Time: Two (2) Hours
Materials:     Geophysical map for use as a guide.
                       Several fossils (different ages and morphology)
                       Several rocks
                       Sheets of paper - 18"X24".
                       Color pencils
                       3 x 5 cards

Divide the class into several groups of 3 - 4 students. One student from each group will be designated recorder and one with artistic or graphics knowledge can be the cartographer. The others will divide the work of identifying the rocks and fossils.

Rocks and fossils will be placed on tables with cards providing known information like location where found (coordinates) in latitude and longitude along with dating if known by means other than fossils.

Student groups will then construct a color geologic map that will include a legend with standard symbols.

Lastly, each group will explain their interpretations. The teacher will share a pre-constructed map at the conclusion so they can see how theirs differ. Many times students can see things adults cannot.


Why is Borah Peak So Tall?

Jim Cash: Moscow Junior High School, Moscow, Id

Purpose: To involve the students in a problem solving process involving geologic data gathering from observations (slides) and measurements from the Borah Peak area.

  1. Set the stage for the activity by asking a series of questions related to mountains in general.
      *If you have a classroom with a view you can solicit students to name the peaks in view.
      * What is the elevation of Moscow Mountain?
      * How does this mountain compare with other peaks in the state?
      * What part of our state seems to have the tallest mountains?
          (you could display the large poster geologic map of Idaho available from the Idaho Geological Survey).
      * What is the name of the tallest mountain in the state of Idaho?
      * Why is it that it's so much taller than Moscow Mountain?

  2. Show a series of slides of Borah Peak.
      (some are available on the 1995 Borah Peak Workshop page)
      Solicit guesses as to the elevation.

  3. Show a panorama view of Borah Peak which shows range front fault (Borah Peak Fault).
      What do you think this light colored line across the base is? (fault scarp).

  4. Show a series of close-up slides views of scarp from various locations. Lead a discussion alluding towards that they are
      looking at the actual fault scarp and how that relates to the earthquake.

  5. Show a series of slides depicting the damage in Challis, the sand boils, the changes in the road beds and aqueduct.

  6. Ask the question "How do you think Borah Peak got so high?" again. Steer the discussion toward the fact the there must
      have been other earthquakes in the past.

  7. Show a series of slides of the scarp from different locations and angles including the image of the excavated pit and the
      offset view of Double Springs Pass road.
      * How might you find out how much vertical movement occurred along this fault plane?
         Solicit responses, then ask the following questions to guide the students through 'one way' this can be done.
      # What kind of material does this fault cut through? (alluvium)
      # What do you notice about the rocks shown in the pit? (rounded)
      # How does this rounding normally occur? (moving water)
      # Where is all the water now? (guide the students to conclude that there was a lot of water here at one time).
      # When could there have been a lot water in this part of Idaho? (last ice age Pleistocene ~ 10,000BP.
      # Is there anything shown in both the pit and the scarp that might help you figure out how much vertical movement occurred 
         along the fault plane? (solicit responses but focus on the white layer in both)
      If you measure the vertical distance from the white layer exposed in the pit to where the layer is exposed on the scarp, you 
      will get a measurement roughly 18'. Since there was already a previous scarp this distance represents two (2) separate
      # How far did the land slip with each event? (could be rounded of to 10' for simplicity)
      Located within the pit is evidence that the fault scarp displaces Mt. Mazama ash.
      # When did Mt. Mazama last erupt? (Mt. Mazama is now Oregon's Crater Lake which blew its top ~7,000 BP).
      # What is the seismic interval between these two events? (5,000 - 7,000 years)
      Since the valley floor is just over 6,000ft. in elevation and Borah Peak is just over 12,000ft; how many years has it taken
      The peak to reach it's current height?
         a. There is a 6,000ft elevation difference with an average of 10' of elevation per event.
             So, we could say that there has been roughly 600 seismic events.
         b. Since there has been 5,000 years between events and 600 events we could estimate that it has taken 3,000,000 years
             for Borah Peak to reach it's height of 12,000 feet.

Geology of the Borah Peak Area

Terry Kuroda: Meridian High School, Meridian, Id

As part of the teaching of Earth Science, I work towards developing in my students a better awareness of geology within the state of Idaho. In this way, I hopefully bring about a sense of appreciation about our state, understand its past and enable students to perceive the type of forces at work in the earth and how they can in turn alter what we see on the surface.

Often times during the school year, I will have students that identify with places that I use as examples in class as places they might have gone to during the summer or at some other time in their lives. By using these examples I can often show, visually, enabling them to better interpret the concepts as well as give them a little more insight into the places they have been to.

During the course of the unit on earthquakes, I will include a section of study relating to the Borah Peak earthquake . This will include the location of Borah Peak, how it formed, and the types of geologic changes that occurred as a result of the earthquake.

To develop a sense of what took place at Borah Peak and the surrounding area, I will utilize slides that were taken by me during an earlier visit to the area, slides included in the teacher resource packet distributed in the field, and the slide that were taken during the 1993 workshop.

By viewing these slides, the students will be able to:
  Focus on the powerful nature of earthquakes.
  Understand the geologic changes that may come about and
  See how much of a change is still evident today.

When we discuss the changes that took place in the area, we will also focus on the hydrological changes that occurred.

As part of learning about the Mercalli and Richter Scales, we will utilize the Borah Peak earthquake to exemplify where this event would fit into each of these scales.

Finally, we will focus on the nature of earthquakes in Idaho and determine how severe the dangers are for another powerful earthquake.