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Using Google Earth to teach geomorphology

Holly A.S. Dolliver
Holly A.S. Dolliver
University of Wisconsin–River Falls, Department of Plant and Earth Science, 410 S. Third Street, 307 Agricultural Science, River Falls, Wisconsin 54022, USA
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October 2012

Google Earth is a free, easy-to-use geobrowser that has become a popular tool for observing planet Earth. Several features within Google Earth can enhance teaching of geomorphology concepts. The ability to tilt a scene and view a landscape three-dimensionally, along with the capability to make measurements and construct an elevation profile, can greatly facilitate the identification and characterization of land-forms and geomorphic mapping. Historical imagery allows users to access and analyze imagery dating back to the 1940s in some locations. This time-series of imagery is useful for studying natural and anthropogenic geomorphic processes and change. In addition to the geospatial data provided by Google Earth, supplementary data such as U.S. Geological Survey topographic or geologic maps, can be imported and easily georeferenced to provide an opportunity for more comprehensive analysis. Although not as powerful as commercial geographic information system (GIS) software, Google Earth is a dynamic venue for students to explore and analyze the geomorphology of the entire planet.

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GSA Special Papers

Google Earth and Virtual Visualizations in Geoscience Education and Research

Edited by
Steven J. Whitmeyer
Steven J. Whitmeyer
Department of Geology & Environmental Science, James Madison University, Memorial Hall, MSC 6903, Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807, USA
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John E. Bailey
John E. Bailey
Scenarios Network for Alaska & Arctic Planning, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska 99709, USA
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Declan G. De Paor
Declan G. De Paor
Department of Physics, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia 23529, USA
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Tina Ornduff
Tina Ornduff
Google Inc., 1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy, Mountain View, California 94043, USA
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Geological Society of America
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