Earth Science Exploration


This KQED curated earth science collection explores resources focused on our dynamic planet and earth systems. From the science of earthquakes, to what makes big waves, to the anatomy of a volcano, use these resources to explore natural phenomena and the science behind how they work.

  • Making Big Waves

    Waves can come from many different types of sources, yet they all have very similar physical properties.  In this video from QUEST, learn about the origins and the power of Big Waves along the Northern California Coast.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Watching the Tides

    The rise and fall of ocean tides are influenced by the gravitational forces of the sun and moon. In this video from QUEST produced by KQED, explore how tides work and see the oldest continually operating tidal gauge in the Western Hemisphere. Ben Burress explains how tides work and visits Crissy Field in San Francisco to see the oldest continually operating tidal gauge in the Western Hemisphere.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Global Ocean Circulation

    In this video from NOVA: “Earth From Space,” learn about patterns of global ocean circulation, which distribute heat around the planet. Differences in the density of water masses drive large-scale ocean currents. Dense water forming over the continental shelf of Antarctica is exported to the adjacent deep ocean, creating streams of very cold water that spread northward along the sea floor into the global oceans. Visualizations show the constant motion and flow of ocean currents. The ocean and the atmosphere are closely connected and are responsible for maintaining Earth's relatively stable climate, providing a hospitable environment for life.

    This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

    Grades: 6-12
  • How Seismic Waves Cause Damage During an Earthquake

    An earthquake generates a series of seismic waves that travel through the interior or near the surface of the Earth. There are four types of seismic waves.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Explaining Earthquakes

    An earthquake generates a series of seismic waves that travel through the interior or near the surface of the Earth. There are 4 types of seismic waves.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Megathrust Earthquakes

    In this video find an explanation of megathrust, shallow crust, deep crust and slow slip earthquakes and learn about the impact of a megathrust earthquake along the Cascadia fault. Also learn how scientists are studying the past to help predict future earthquakes.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Anatomy of a Volcano

    Volcanoes repeatedly remind people of Earth's potential for violence. Since 1700, volcanic eruptions have killed more than 250,000 people and devastated scores of communities. What causes these dramatic geologic displays? This interactive activity from NOVA provides a detailed look at the inner workings of one of the world's most dangerous volcanoes, Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This resource is part of the NOVA Collection.

    This interactive activity requires Adobe Flash Player.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Exploring Earthquakes

    What are earthquakes? Get a new perspective on these powerful phenomena with this collection of videos and infographics co-presented by the California Academy of Sciences and KQED. You'll learn why earthquakes happen, how they've shaped the Bay Area, and what you can do to prepare for the next one.

    Grades: 4-13+
  • Tectonic Plate Movement in Alaska

    Learn how mountains, volcanoes, and earthquakes result from plate tectonics, in this video adapted from KUAC-TV and the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Animations illustrate how the subduction of the Pacific plate under the North American plate and the collision of the Yakutat block builds mountains, such as the Wrangell and St. Elias Mountains. In addition, observe how technology (such as seismometers, satellites, and the Internet) helps scientists study the movement of Earth's crust, and learn about the surprising finding that there are still aftershocks being measured decades after the 1964 earthquake.

    This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Carbon Dioxide and the Carbon Cycle

    Explore how human activities alter the carbon cycle and cause atmospheric carbon dioxide to increase. Learn about the reservoirs and flows of the carbon cycle and how human activities increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the air and ocean. This increased atmospheric carbon dioxide causes global warming.

    Two succeeding interactives from the Pacific Islands Climate Education Partnership and WGBH show how higher carbon dioxide levels cause global warming (Earth's Energy Flows and Climate) and highlight climate change impacts and adaptation strategies for ecosystems and human communities (Impacts of Climate Change in the Pacific Region). 

    Grades: 6-12
  • Sources of Greenhouse Gases

    Learn about greenhouse gasses, how they are generated and their role in climate change. 

    Grades: 6-12
  • Physics of How Greenhouse Gases Trap Heat

    Greenhouse gases are molecules that have the ability to trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere. Learn the physics behind how greenhouse gases trap infrared radiation in the Earth's atmosphere, which leads to global warming.

    Grades: 6-12

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