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Friday, March 28, 2014

Glover School, Marblehead: March 28

42° 29' 24" N
70° 52' 49" W 
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Marblehead harbor. Image:
The EarthView team is very pleased to be visiting the second and third graders at Glover School in beautiful Marblehead, a town on the Atlantic coast about 18 miles north of Boston. The town is famous for all kinds of nautical activity. It is an important place in the history of both the Navy and the Marine Corps, and fishing has been important here for centuries. It is also a favorite destination for people who just enjoy boats!

The nautical activity of Marblehead reminds us of the beautiful nautilus shell. The sizes of the chambers are described by the numbers in the Fibonacci Sequence: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, ...

Geographers are very interested in signs of what we call "sense of place." These are the ways that people represent characteristics that make their home regions unique or special. The town seal of Marblehead shows that boating -- and specifically boating related to fish -- is important to the town. Glover School includes a beautiful image of the seal in bronze. It shows a man fishing in a dory -- a small rowboat very commonly used for cod or pulling lobster traps. The Glover School displays this local seal -- along with the Massachusetts state seal -- right outside its library. It was recovered from the original 1906 school on the same site.

The Glover School is celebrating its namesake through the creation of mosaic honoring General John Glover. Because he was a whaleship captain as well as a military officer, students and teachers decided to pose the general with rowing oars. EarthView team member Dr. Hayes-Bohanan was very excited to see this, since whaleboat rowing is one of his favorite hobbies.

The mosaic border names many virtues, such as respect, curiosity, and perseverance.

During our visit, we noticed that the second and third graders at Glover know as much about world geography as many junior high or high school students. Indeed, they tend to know more than many adults! In addition to excellent teaching and the involvement of parents with international experience, we learned that each second-grade classroom has a world map as a class rug. This map shows no political boundaries, but dots in some countries are color-coded to the flags around the perimeter.

Like the city of Quincy to the south of Boston, Marblehead is a location where granite is found at the surface. The Naumkeeg tribe called it Massebequash, which is also the name of the river that separates it from the city of Salem. English settlers renamed it Marblehead because they thought the granite headlands (seaside cliffs) were made of marble.

Our visit to the Glover School took place within the first month after its opening. It is on the site of a former school, and one of the few things that was kept is this granite outcropping. It is smooth enough that generations of students have used it as a natural sliding board. The smoothing was done during the Pleistocene Era, as a massive glacier scraped over the area. Boulders being carried under several thousand feet of ice scoured the stone like sandpaper!

On this date ...

It was 50 years ago today that the strongest earthquake ever to occur in the United States struck in Prince William Sound, Alaska. The 1964 Great Alaska Earthquake measured 9.2 on the Richter Scale and was the second-largest quake ever recorded. On the map above from the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program,  the purple line shows where the Pacific Plate meets the North American Plate. The center of the earthquake was far below the surface. The epicenter (the place on land directly above the center) was in beautiful Prince William Sound. Damage from this quake included landslides, a tsunami, and the displacement of the land surface up to 11.5 meters (almost 40 feet) above its previous elevation, or 2.5 meters below where it had been. 

As with all of the world's most significant Earthquakes, this one occurred on the Pacific Ring of Fire.

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