|Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences
Saint Louis University
Quizzes & Exams
All previous essays are fair game!
Additional Potential Essays for Final Exam
Discuss some aspect of earthquakes (you choose the topic). Examples: Quantifying earthquake size; Earthquakes and tsunamis; Earthquake Sequences, Earthquakes and faults; Earthquake effects on the landscape; Earthquake effects on buildings, etc..
Discuss earthquake size and magnitude. Describe several different magnitude scales and how they relate to the wave-types and periods used to make a magnitude measurement. Don't forget magnitude saturation and the relationship of an earthquake size to physical properties of the rupture such as slip and area.
List and describe the three types of plate boundaries and discuss the main geologic features such as earthquake activity (number of events, depth of events, etc.), volcanoes (where are volcanoes located relative to plate boundary, what type of volcanism is associated with boundaries, etc.), what type of faulting, bathymetric and topographic expressions, etc.. (This question is very similar to a question from November 15 - I've added faulting)
Describe the earthquake "cycle", the elastic rebound model (it's strengths and weaknesses), and how the Elastic rebound model stands up to our observations.
Quiz #5 Potential Essay Questions (November 15)
Describe the contributions of studies of Earth's magnetic field to the development of plate tectonics.
List and describe the three types of plate boundaries and discuss the main geologic features such as earthquake activity (number of events, depth of events, etc.), volcanoes (where are volcanoes located relative to plate boundary, what type of volcanism is associated with boundaries, etc.), bathymetric and topographic expressions, etc.
Plate tectonics is a comprehensive explanation for the way the outer part of the planet works. Describe several of the main geologic features that are well explained by the plates.
Quiz #4 Potential Essay Questions (November 3)
Describe the variation in P-wave velocity throughout the Earth. Don't think in terms of the wave traveling, but study the plot of P-velocity versus depth and describe the physical changes that are associated with the major features in that curve.
Use a simple mechanical analog to illustrate the basic ideas behind a seismic recording system.
What are the four basic seismic wave types, and what distinguishes them from one another?
Describe the wave propagation phenomena (reflection, refraction, dispersion) and how they add complexity to seismograms.
For Mid-Term Potential Essay Questions (October 13)
Outline the origin and abundance of the elements and include a discussion of the role in nuclear fusion and fission in the processes that produced the Universe (feel free to use cartoons to illustrate your answer). Describe the information contained in meteorites and what the observations tell us about the solar system and planets. Sketch a cartoon of Earth that illustrates the main compositional "zones" of the planet and the major chemical components in each. Then indicate which of these zones is hot, cool, convecting, etc. Imagine that you are trying to explain the size and age of the Universe to a friend. Develop simple analogies that place the immensity of the universe and the depth of time in a perspective. Don't worry about many details, but make the point.
Quiz #3 Potential Essay Questions (October 4)
Describe and discuss the scientific problem-solving method. Give a thorough example of using the same ideas to solve a common nonscientific problem (for example, supposed your "Walkman" stopped working, how would you determine what was wrong?). Given a sequence of items such as playing cards or other objects, compose a set of hypotheses to explain the "pattern" in the sequence. For each hypothesis, clearly identify the predictions for the next item and which additional items would support or nullify the hypothesis. List the basic groupings of fallible or "bad" arguments and provide at least one specific example from each category. What are the practices common in sound critical thinking? Why is it likely that unlikely things should happen?
Quiz #2 Potential Essay Questions (September 27)
What are some things you should do before an earthquake? What should you do during an earthquake if you are in a vehicle, in a building, or outside? Describe the intensity of shaking produced by earthquakes, how we measure it, and the factors that can influence the shaking intensity level. Be prepared to intelligently discuss the selection of a site for a "critical structure" (power plant, hospital, highway, etc.) given a map delineating the near-surface rock and soil distribution and earthquake or fault locations. Describe the seismicity of the United States (compare the levels of activity in different regions). Discuss the impact of earthquakes on human societies. How could an accurate earthquake prediction method help us deal with earthquakes? What could it not change? What would be the problems associated with a prediction scheme accurate only 60% of the time?
Quiz #1 Potential Essay Questions (September 13)
What are the steps to writing a good essay question answer (on an exam)?
Sample Exam Questions from Fall 1997
More Sample Exam Questions from Fall '97