The Hot Spot Hypothesis
computer exercisesuggested grade levels: 9-12

view Idaho achievement standards for this lesson

If the Yellowstone hot spot truly has migrated eastward over the last 17 million years, it will have left a distinct trail of topography and volcanic rocks in its wake. In the case of Yellowstone National Park, the hot spot currently defines the Continental Divide. This may or may not have been true for the entire track of the hot spot from NW Nevada to NW Wyoming. Students will become scientists and figure out what types of evidence have indicated that the hot spot has passed from Nevada to Wyoming.

1. Students will use the Digital Atlas of Idaho.
2. Students will learn about the movement of the Hot Spot.

Eastern Idaho SRP Hot S. Gather some useful maps and figures for use with the module (from Chapter 2 of Rocks, Rails and Trails).
Rocky Mtns. Timeline of Geologic Map
Spot Map Geologic Map
Geologic Events  

Encourage your students to explore the Topography and Hot Spot section of the Digital Atlas. To get there: Click on Atlas Home, mouse-over Geology, then click on Topography and Hot Spot.Encourage your students to read through the pages and explore the links to see the pictures. Have your students read through and explore Chapter 2 of Rocks, Rails, and Trails. Encourage them to find at least three lines of evidence that support the theory that the hot spot passed along the proposed course to its current position under Yellowstone National Park. For example, the hot spot would be located in an area of high topography, and though there may be thick sediment accumulations in that area, drainage should occur radially away from it. HINT: As the hot spot passes, the elevated volcanic plateau it created subsides, and through-going drainage systems may have been established in its wake.

Handouts/Activity links:
These are links to access the handouts and printable materials.
Topography and Hot Spot

Related Lesson Topics:
Geology: Geology Topics

Lesson plan by Vita Taube, 2000
Idaho Achievement Standards (as of 7/2001) met by completing this activity: