2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 35-2
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM


MALONEY, Katie M., School of Geography and Earth Sciences, McMaster Univerity, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON L8S4K1, Canada, EYLES, Carolyn H., Integrated Science Program & School of Geography & Earth Sciences, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON L8S 4K1, Canada and BRODEUR, Jason J., McMaster University Library, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON L8S4K1, Canada, malonekm@mcmaster.ca

Students often find visualizing Earth Science topics to be a challenging process. A Geospatial software that is readily available and easy to use can be an asset to help students visualize and understand concepts that are introduced in class. As of this year, Google Earth Pro has ended its subscription fee, presenting users with features that were previously unavailable in the free version. To investigate the applications of Google Earth Pro in first year Earth and Environmental Science courses, three virtual ‘tours’ were created focusing on a variety of curriculum based topics including plate tectonics, volcanoes, and glaciers. These Google Earth tours can be embedded within lectures to demonstrate how concepts relate to each other, as well as specific geographic locations. Tours can also include an audio script to enable the material to be presented as an on-line activity and activities can be designed that utilize data collected through the software. Additional features of the software and their application in the classroom will be examined, including the ability to visualize and analyze the Earth both spatially and temporally, through 3D and high resolution imagery. The use of Google Earth will not only impact future educational activities in the geosciences, but also the methods employed in geoscientific research. For example, Google Earth Pro can import GIS data, visualize data from Google Fusion tables, and utilize time series analytical tools that allow the visualization of events such as the spatial spread of subsurface contaminants or sediment movement in near shore environments. This allows more effective analysis of time-dependent spatial data and facilitates communication of research results to a range of audiences. The results of this study will be applicable to other disciplines where students and researchers can benefit from enhanced understanding and visualization of the spatial distribution of phenomena.