AP Environmental Science : Introductory Concepts and Earth Science

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Environmental Science

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Example Questions

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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:

high risk

mixed risk

very high risk

very low risk

low 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:

Heavy rains from tropical storms

Tsunamis formed by mass wasting

None of these

Earthquakes along subduction zones

Tornados in Kansas

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 #1 : Earth Science

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

Possible Answers:

outer core

inner core

asthenosphere

lithosphere

Correct answer:

lithosphere

Explanation:

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

Example Question #1 : 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:

capillary waves

chop waves

seismic waves

heat 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:

dormant

active

extinct

rift

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 #2 : 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:

Rift volcano

Dormant volcano

Active volcano

Extinct Volcano

Subduction 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 #1 : Ap Environmental Sciences

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

Possible Answers:

None of these

Composite cones

Subduction volcanoes

Rift volcanoes

Hot spot 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 #1 : Plate Tectonics And Earthquakes

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

Possible Answers:

convergent

transform

strike-slip

divergent

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.

Example Question #1 : Ap Environmental Sciences

A volcano has a giant crater instead of a peak at the top and steep, sloping sides. What kind of volcano is this likely describing?

Possible Answers:

The correct type of volcano is not listed.

A shield volcano

A cinder cone volcano

A "crater" volcano

A composite volcano

Correct answer:

A cinder cone volcano

Explanation:

This type of volcano is called a cinder cone volcano. Unlike a composite volcano or a shield volcano, a cinder cone volcano is characterized by a missing chunk near the top. This crater is a result of violent explosions followed by the falling of large quantities of debris and ash.

Example Question #1 : Seasons

The seasons experienced on Earth are caused by __________.

Possible Answers:

Geothermal energy on a biological clock

The proximity of the Earth to certain star clusters at moments during the Earth's orbit around the sun

The elliptical shape of Earth's orbit around the sun

The varying temperature of the sun during different times of year

The  tilt of the Earth's axis

Correct answer:

The  tilt of the Earth's axis

Explanation:

Contrary to what many people think, the seasons are caused by the amount of light that the surface of each hemisphere of Earth receives during different parts the year. Because of the tilt of the Earth's axis and its rotation, certain months of the year result in more direct sunlight, but not necessarily because they are closer to the sun. The Northern hemisphere receives less sunlight during some months when the Earth's axis is tilted away from the sun; the resulting season is winter. Each ray of sunlight is spread out over more distance at the poles, whereas the warmest areas (at the equator) get the most direct sunlight. When Earth's axis is pointed towards the sun, the resulting season is summer in the Northern Hemisphere and winter in the Southern Hemisphere.

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