Volcano Geochemistry: Webcast and Teaching Resources

Dr. Elizabeth Cottrell in her laboratory at the National Museum of Natural History. In her webcast, Liz talks about why she calls volcanoes the "lungs of the Earth." Smithsonian photo by Wei Qian. 


Use the link below to watch the "Volcano Geochemistry: Windows to Earth's Interior" show from May 15, 2014.

Watch Webcast Video


Meet Dr. Elizabeth Cottrell, a geologist at the National Museum of Natural History. Explore volcanoes as windows into the Earth's interior. Understand how you are connected to the interior of the Earth. Uncover the evidence about geologic events contained in volcanic glass. Think about how plate tectonics have gotten us to where we are today.


Use the related resources below to take your students on a journey to understand how geologists study Earth's geologic processes. Design an assessment for your class.

Lessons Printable, inquiry-based lessons that teachers prepare and facilitate in the classroom using everyday material

Excerpt from an STC Program™ unit from the Smithsonian Science Education Center

Click-through Activities Online activities that students can complete independently on classroom computers or at home

Literacy Resources Reading selections to boost science literacy

Posters and Worksheets Printable images and one-page activities

Science Expert Role Models Links to inspiring science experts at the Smithsonian and beyond

At the National Museum of Natural History A window into what's available at the museum

Q?rius Explore Q?rius, a new way to experience the research, collections, and science at the National Museum of Natural History


The Volcano Geochemistry Webcast Package supports students in meeting the NGSS Performance Expectations listed below by offering a set of resources that integrate science concepts with science practice skills.

MS-ESS1 Earth's Place in the Universe

  • MS-ESS1-4 Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence from rock strata for how the geologic time scale is used to organize Earth's 4.6-billion-year-old history

MS-ESS2 Earth's Systems

  • MS-ESS2-2 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth's surface at varying time and spatial scales
  • MS-ESS2-3 Analyze and interpret data on the distribution of fossils and rocks, continental shapes, and seafloor structures to provide evidence of the past plate motions

MS-ESS3 Earth and Human Activity

  • MS-ESS3-1 Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how the uneven distributions of Earth's mineral, energy, and groundwater resources are the result of past and current geoscience processes
  • MS-ESS3-2 Analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events and inform the development of technologies to mitigate their effects