Stanford University Spatial History Project

The Spatial History Project is an attempt to conduct research within the humanities, specifically history, through the lens of spatial analysis. The team compiles both spatial and non spatial data together within geospatial databases. The differentiation between the Spatial History Project and traditional history research lies in several factors, including the fact that it places a strong emphasis on visualization, a conceptual approach to space, is more collaborative and depends heavily on the use of computers. The website allows you to access the research put out by the Project, as well as look at current projects. Some projects that are currently underway include A Chronology of Suburban Expansion for San Antonio, TexasA Global Atlas of OilFollow the Money, and From Forest to Vineyards: The Changing Landscape in Brazil, among many others. All of these projects begin by examing a central historical issue, and then trace itsdevelopment using geospatial methods. This provides a unique perspective on historical inquiry. The website also allows you to go into the gallery of past projects and immerse yourselg in the research through the use of visals and other forms of media. The research falls within the cross section of the biosphere and lithosphere, lookig both and human interaction and developent with nature as well as the pure enviornmental development over time. In all this website is a useful and intriguing resource for anyone from history buffs to budding physical geographists.

Plate Tectonics Map

This map, provided by is an interactive map of the major Tectonic plates of the world and how/when they are known to move. Each dropped pin states the name of the plate as well as it’s recent history.

It also designates whether or not it is a plate boundary and specifies the difference between volcanic chains, faults, and other tectonic movement/action. It also has links to informative articles on the different plate types and different fault lines around the world.

It also details the different types of boundaries (divergent, convergent, transform) and teaches about Earth’s Internal Structure.

Overall, a very useful website for those looking to better understand Plate Tectonics and how/where they affect the world.




Live Earthquakes Map


This website maps earthquakes from around the world using data from the US Geological Survey feed. It provides information about the location, the date and time (including how long ago it happened from the current viewing time),  the magnitude, and the depth of the quake in a table below the map. On the map itself, dots corresponding to the magnitude of the earthquake are placed at the geographic location of the quake, providing a clear visual display of where recent earthquakes have occurred.

This website clearly relates to our class discussion on the lithosphere and earthquakes specifically. Being able to visualize the location and magnitude of recent quakes drives home the theory of plate tectonics (thanks Alfred Wegener) because you can see that earthquakes most often occur along certain, invisible boundaries. I also like that this map shows how frequently earthquakes occur, even smaller ones that are not necessarily detectable without technology. I think this drives home the point that earthquakes are a common phenomenon that frequently, and often heavily, impact human life.

How much do you know about volcanoes?


Have you ever wondered how many volcanoes there are in your country, or how many earthquakes have occurred in the past 24 hours? Have you ever wanted to travel and see a volcano, but you don’t know where to start? is a great website if you want to know anything and everything about the geography of volcanoes. When you first go to the website, there are simple categories on what you are specifically looking for. For example, if you click on the first box that says “Volcanoes of the world,” there is information and news about active volcanoes from all around the world. You could click on a country such as Japan, for example, to find out how many volcanoes are on that island, and find out facts about them. You could also click on the category called “Volcano photos,” to see magnificent photographs of different types of active volcanoes. There is also a “photo of the day” category, in which you could check back every day to see a new photo. Another interesting category is the “Volcano travel,” in which you could find out where you can visit to see volcanoes. There are even specific dates and tours that you could sign up for. Another category that is convenient is the “Latest earthquakes” category. Here, you can find out the latest earthquakes from around the world and their magnitudes.

Cold to Hot! A study of How the Ice-covered Earth Heated Up To Record Temperatures

Researchers at the University of Texas — Austin Jackson School of the Geosciences have recently conducted a study, featured in the April 22, 2016, edition of Science, hypothesizing that volcanic activity associated with plate tectonic movement is a contributing factor to the global climatic shift to higher temperatures. This study analyzes shifts in the Earth’s baseline climate throughout Earth’s 4.6 billion year existence; the study focuses on long-term shift, not short-term/human-induced climate change. The researchers, using a geomorphological lens to examine climate change shifts concluded, ” periods when volcanoes along continental arcs were more active coincided with warmer, or greenhouse, conditions over the past 720 million years. Conversely,  periods when continental arc volcanos were less active coincided with colder, or icehouse, conditions” (University of Texas at Austin). The research team argues that when crustal collisions occur throughout Earth’s history, the effects of plates colliding can increase Earth’s temperatures, especially collisions that result in volcano formation.

Continental arc systems, the researchers argue, act as reservoir for carbon, until volcanic eruption releases carbon into the atmosphere. Continental arc systems are created by the collision of two tectonic plates and the oceanic plate is subverted by the continental plate, forming a subduction zone where magma mixes with trapped carbon to release carbon dioxide when volcanoes erupt.  The amount of carbon dioxide released and held in the atmosphere “influences Earth’s climate.” The research team compiled over 200 published studies, in addition to their own data, to study the past 720 million years of Earth’s geology. The team constructed a global database cataloging the most recent 720 million years of volcanic activity at the margins of the continental plates. The study also examined other greenhouse gases and sediment basins of eroded volcanic structures in order to improve their model.

In concluding statements, team contributor Brian Horton stated, “the cooler icehouse periods tended to correlate with the assembly of the Earth’s supercontinents, which was a time of diminished continental volcanism. The warmer greenhouse periods correlated with continental breakup, a time of enhanced continental volcanism.” This study is important to physical geography because it is representative of the interconnectedness and interdependence Earth’s systems have with one another. The lithosphere and the atmosphere are not independent of each other, but exogenic processes that occur in one sphere or system of the Earth affects the other system.



Rocks Reveal New, Ancient Super Continent

University of Wyoming Researcher, Kevin Chamberlain, has helped disprove a previously wide-held theory of two Precambrian super continents (called Nuna-Columbia and Rodinia) using a technique called “diking,” which examines specific types of layers in rocks called dikes. Chamberlain examined “mafic” dikes in layers of rock, which are dark bands of mineral or rock containing magnesium and iron that form between existing, older rocks. Chamberlain found similar dike swarms (cluster of dikes within the continental crust) in the Southern regions of Siberia and mountain ranges of Wyoming, as well as similar ages of cratons and dike swarms in the two regions. This helped determine when and where the cratons split apart and caused continent reformation, which proved that the Southern region of Siberia and the core of North America where Wyoming’s mountain ranges fall were connected at one point. The findings helped Chamberlain conclude that these regions were connected for about 1.2 billion years, anywhere from 1.9 to 700 million years ago, as one of four or five hypothesized super continent cycles.

The discovery also brought good news to the futures of mining companies. The uncovering of similar dike swarms and craton ages in the two geographic regions reveal that large metal deposits are likely to exist under the younger layers of rock.

Find the article at :

Diking: A New Source for Earthquake Activity

Researchers from Penn. State University have discovered a new geological source for strong earthquakes known as “diking”. Diking can be found all over the globe, but it is a phenomenon that is primarily focused along divergent plate boundaries (e.g. East Africa’s Great Rift Valley). This phenomenon occurs when magma rises from diverging plate boundaries in order to fill empty spaces. The magma then proceeds to cool and form vertical intrusions known as dikes. Although diking is a known phenomenon, “it has not been observed by geophysical techniques…”.

Penn State researchers led a study that explored the connection between two natural disasters that occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002. Chrsitelle Wauthier, the assistant professor of Geosciences at Penn. State, led the study in East Africa. The research team studied the eruption of the Nyiragongo Volcano on January 17th, killing over 100 and leaving around 100,000 homeless, and 6.2 magnitude earthquake which hit the town of Kalehe 8 months later.

Although the research team understood that the entrance of magma to the Earth’s crust creates stress and generates seismicity, they were still perplexed by the magnitude of the earthquake that hit Kalehe after the eruption of Nyiragongo. Earthquakes created by the entrance of magma to the Earth’s crust are usually small in magnitude, but the earthquake that hit Kalehe was quite high.

The research team therefore concluded that the rising magma that created dikes were putting pressure on adjacent rocks in the Earth’s crust. The increased pressure of these adjacent rocks accumulated stress upon rocks found on a fault in Kalehe. Therefore, the research team discovered  that dikes have the potential to trigger much larger earthquakes than previously believed.



East Africa’s Great Rift Valley: A Complex Rift System

My website came from:

In East Africa there is an area where Earth’s tectonic forces are currently trying to create new plates by splitting apart old ones. This rift area is defined by a fracture in the earth’s surface that widens over time and thus becomes a new plate. The two main plates at play are the Nubian Plate, which makes up most of Africa and the Somalian Plate, which is the plate pulling away. Contained within the area of these splitting plates includes Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia.

There is an ongoing debate among scientists about how the rift has formed. The most popular model assumes that the elevated heat flow coming from the earth’s mantle is causing a pair of thermal bulges in central Kenya and areas north of Kenya. This heating process causes heats up the overlaying crust causing it to expand and fracture. The expansion further stretches the land and leads to the formation of oceanic crust, which creates the birth of a new ocean basin.

This area is represents a unique geological setting that may also provide some insight into the process of human evolution. Many early hominid fossils have been found within and around the East African Rift System. Since the structure and evolution of the rift may have created climate changes, early hominids would have needed to adapt to such changes. The alterations in climate structure may have driven humans to become bipedal and more brainy as they tried to adapt the changing environment.

ScienceDaily: Your resource for the latest research news

ScienceDaily is one of the most popular scientific websites. About 5,000,000 people visit this website monthly. One of the reasons that people prefer this website for their scientific research is that it is well organized and easy to search for topics that they want. The site has five big categories on the top: Health, Physical/Tech, Environment, Society/Education, and Quirky. There are more specified categories below these five categories like Space and Matters, Animals and Plants.

For example, if you are looking for a resource about Mars, you will go to Physical/Tech, Space and Matters, and click Mars. There is a research about Marsh might has a salty water. It provides summary of the news and information about the laboratory where the research was done. You will see the recent researches about Mars and the related stories additionally on the right side. In addition, “Related stories” section that recommends further research is shown based on your search topic. It helps you to gather more related information about the topic and to develop your study once you search, so that you do not have to search several times.

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The website is designed well for the young people who are interested in scientific issues. It has a Facebook page, Twitter, and Google+ so that you can get the latest news through them. And the website allows you to share the news on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ simply clicking “Share this”.

The website is useful for our course, Geography 250 because it has great amount of resources about physical geography including Atmospheric, Biospheric, Hydrospheric, and Lithospheric news. In Space & Time section, there are detailed resources about space that can be linked with what we learned in chapter 3, the atmospheric composition. The earthquake news of the website announces a recent issue about the earthquake like Japan Quake and Tsunami Spurred Global Warming which can be associated with Chapter 12.


The website that I chose is an interactive tour of the world. The purpose of the website is to visually show how climate change has affected or will affect the Earth and its systems.  It’s also provides a good visual summary of how much humans have impacted these systems. It offers 4 categories to choose from: Changing World, Climate Change, Biosphere reserves, and Help greening. In changing world, users can choose from one of Earth’s 4 systems: Lithosphere, Hydrosphere, Atmosphere, and Biosphere as well as a 5th one, Antroposphere. Within each system, users can choose a variety of topics that are associated with each system and can visually see the distribution or levels of each topic around the world. Climate change category is of course all about climate change and it’s causes. Users can visually see all the changes that occur with climate change and where on the planet will be most affected. Biosphere reserves category shows the many reserves and world heritage sites on the planet today and their boundaries. Finally the last category, Help greening, talks about how humans can help to slow down climate change and make a contribution to the healthiness of the Earth.


This is a really good website in which it isn’t just about giving facts and information but provide visually appealing graphs/data/pictures, allowing users to quickly determine where on the Earth each topic is occurring. It provides a sense of scale. I really liked the website because instead of actually reading about what’s going on in the planet, I get to actually see how much damage is occurring to the world and where. And so this website relates to everything that we have been learning in class.