WEBCAST: Volcano Geochemistry - Windows to Earth's Interior

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. 

Smithsonian Science How: Volcano Geochemistry - Windows to Earth's Interior

Featuring Geologist Elizabeth Cottrell

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.

Watch a recording of the May 15, 2014, webcast using the link below. The show aligns with national science standards.

Watch Webcast Video

How do you participate in the webcast program?

1. WATCH the archive video 

2. Get TEACHING RESOURCES for the webcast

3. Design an ASSESSMENT for your students


The Volcano Geochemistry Webcast Package supports students in meeting the following middle school NGSS Performance Expectations 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