Musical Plates

Lesson 3: Where will your home be in a million years?

Students will access information about  the motion (speed and direction) of the Earth's tectonic plates and make predictions.

Students will:
  • Locate stations on the Global Velocities map
  • Interpret the information on Global Velocities map
  • Determine the speed at which the locations are moving
  • Draw conclusions and identify a trend from collected data

One 45 minute class period.


Teacher Preparation

  1. Direct students to Student Activity 3 in the Student Activities of this project.
  2. After students have gone through the lesson on their own, have them share their answers to the lesson questions.

Assessment Suggestions

Student Activity

The following instructions for Student Activity 3 are printed in the Student Activities section of this web site.
 Where will your home be in a million years?


Your teacher will tell you to record your answers in your 'Musical Plates' journal/notebook OR on the printable worksheet.
  1. Locate the station HILO in Hawaii on the GPS Time Series Global Velocities Map.
  2. Use the scaling arrow at the bottom of the left-side of Global Velocities map to determine the speed at which station HILO is moving ("5 cm/yr --->"). See if you can answer these questions:
    1. How fast is it moving in one year?
    2. How far will it move in 10 years? 100 years? 1,000 years? 100,000 years? a million years?
  3. Determine the plate on which station HILO is located. What plates are touching it?
  4. Use the "direction arrow" for station HILO to determine the direction that that station will move in. Assuming that station HILO remains moving in that direction, use the scale on your map to determine where station HILO will be in for each of the time periods above.
  5. Do the same activity for station AUCK in Auckland, New Zealand.
  6. See if you can answer these questions:
    1. How would the movement of either station affect the climate that plants and animals located on the land mass would experience?
    2. How might this change in climate affect the habitat on the land mass?
    3. How might this habitat affect the animals?
    4. What animals living in the region might become extinct and which might be able to survive?


  1. Scroll down past the Global Velocities Map
  2. Click on the station you would like to view
  3. You can access the geodetic position measurements from that station from 1990 to the present day to determine its direction and movement for the last 10 years.



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Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education (CIESE) All Rights Reserved.