AP Environmental Science : Plate Tectonics and Earthquakes

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Environmental Science

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Plate Tectonics And Earthquakes

An earthquake along the eastern coast of the North American Continent would be classified as belonging to which of the following classes of risk?

Possible Answers:

very high risk

low risk

high risk

very low risk

mixed risk

Correct answer:

low risk

Explanation:

Events that occur infrequently but potentially carry large consequences are classified as a low risk events. An earthquake along the eastern shoreboard of the North American Continent would fall into this classification. "Very high risk" is not a risk classification.

Example Question #2 : Plate Tectonics And Earthquakes

Which of the following is a type of natural disaster caused by plate tectonics—movement of the plates that compose the Earth's surface?

Possible Answers:

None of these

Tsunamis formed by mass wasting

Tornados in Kansas

Earthquakes along subduction zones

Heavy rains from tropical storms

Correct answer:

Earthquakes along subduction zones

Explanation:

Along convergent plate boundaries, friction from the subducting plate causes earthquakes. These quakes form deep within the Earth and can cause significant damage to the Earth's surface and human developments upon it. An example of a convergent boundary that causes frequent earthquakes is the west coast of the United States. While tornados, tropical storms, and tsunamis created by mass wasting are all natural disasters; they are typically not the result of plate tectonics.

Example Question #3 : Ap Environmental Sciences

The theory of plate tectonics describes the movement of tectonic plates within Earth's __________.

Possible Answers:

inner core

outer core

lithosphere

asthenosphere

Correct answer:

lithosphere

Explanation:

The correct response is lithosphereThe lithosphere is comprised of parts of the crust and upper mantle.

Example Question #3 : Plate Tectonics And Earthquakes

A geologist is measuring the magnitude of the last big earthquake that struck South America. She is able to calculate the magnitude because earthquakes release energy that create __________.

Possible Answers:

seismic waves

heat waves

chop waves

capillary waves

Correct answer:

seismic waves

Explanation:

The correct response is seismic wavesGeologists can identify the magnitude of an earthquake using a seismograph that measure seismic wave activity. 

Example Question #4 : Plate Tectonics And Earthquakes

The Hawaiian Islands are known for their hot spot volcanoes. This part of the world contains many different types of volcanoes. If researchers in Hawaii discover a volcano that has no record of ever erupting, then it would be referred to as a(n) __________ volcano. 

Possible Answers:

extinct

dormant

rift

active

Correct answer:

dormant

Explanation:

The correct response is dormant. The term dormant volcano refers to any volcano that has never been known to erupt. An active volcano is currently erupting or has been known to erupt in the past. An extinct volcano will never erupt again. 

Example Question #5 : Plate Tectonics And Earthquakes

A researcher studies the natural history of volcanoes. He has found that a volcano in South America was formed by plates that collided and slid under each other. What type of volcano has the researcher discovered?

Possible Answers:

Dormant volcano

Extinct Volcano

Subduction volcano

Rift volcano

Active volcano

Correct answer:

Subduction volcano

Explanation:

The correct response is subduction volcano. This type of volcano is formed when plates collide and slide under each other. A rift volcano is formed when plates move away from each other. The other three answer choices describe volcanic activity which was never mentioned in the question.

Example Question #7 : Ap Environmental Sciences

Both the Hawaiian and the Galapagos Islands are formed from what type of volcanoes?

Possible Answers:

None of these

Hot spot volcanoes

Subduction volcanoes

Composite cones

Rift volcanoes

Correct answer:

Hot spot volcanoes

Explanation:

Both the Hawaiian and the Galapagos islands are formed by 'hot spots' in the Earth's mantle. As the tectonic plate passes over these hot spots, some mantle pushes through to form a volcano beneath the ocean, which gradually builds itself tall enough to become an island. When the plate moves away from the hot spot, the process starts over, and another island forms.

Example Question #8 : Ap Environmental Sciences

A __________ plate boundary forms when two tectonic plates move together, the higher density plate subducting under the other.

Possible Answers:

divergent

strike-slip

transform

convergent

Correct answer:

convergent

Explanation:

A convergent plate boundary forms when two tectonic plates (large plates that make up the Earth's surface) move towards each other. When they meet, the higher density plate goes underneath (subducting) under the other. This is the type of plate boundary happening along the west coast of the United States. Divergent plate boundaries occur when two tectonic plates move apart. This process, over millions of years, can form ocean basins. As the divergent plate boundaries continue to move apart, new rock is formed between them. This type of plate boundary is taking place in the center of all modern ocean basins. Transform plate boundaries form when two tectonic plates slide against each other. This is occurring in California at the San Andreas Fault. Strike-slip faults are structures that form along transform plate boundaries.

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