A NEW ANIMATION OF SUBDUCTION ZONE PROCESSES DEVELOPED FOR THE UNDERGRADUATE AND COMMUNITY COLLEGE AUDIENCE
Oceanic lithosphere is created at divergent plate margins (spreading ridges) and is destroyed at convergent plate margins, where it sinks back into the mantle in subduction zones. Subduction is responsible for dangerous natural hazards ﾖ earthquakes, explosive volcanism, and tsunamis - but also produces continental crust and important mineral deposits. A range of geoscientific efforts including NSF MARGINS and GeoPRISMS initiatives have advanced our understanding of subduction zone processes, but communicating these exciting results to the nonexpert audience is not easy. This gap is partly because there are no animations that show how subduction zones operate in a way that is both scientifically sound and asthetically pleasing. This deficiency reflects the disparate expertises of geoscientists who know the science but have weak animation skills and digital artists and animators who have strong skills in showing objects in motion but know little about natural processes like plate tectonics.
Our goal was to generate a realistic subduction zone animation aimed at university undergraduate and community college student audience.
We started by working within our university to rough out a draft animation and then contracting a professional to use this to construct the final version. UTD Geosciences faculty (Stern) and graduate student (Lieu) teamed up with faculty from UTD School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (ATEC)(Farrar, Fechter, and McComber) to identify and recruit talented ATEC undergraduate students (Mantey, Ward) to work on the project. Geoscientists assembled a storyboard and met weekly with ATEC undergraduates to generate a first draft of the animation, which guided development of an accompanying narrative. The draft animation with voice-over was then handed off to professional animator Windler (Archistration CG) to generate the final animation.
The final animation is freely available via the internet < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wJBOk9xjto> (google �Plate Tectonic Basics 1�) and will also be used as a supplement for McGraw-Hill textbooks in oceanography, physical geology, Earth science, geography, historical geology, natural hazards, and natural resources. We have also developed an assessment, where students sketch sections of mid-ocean ridges and subduction zones before and after viewing the animation. Assessment materials and rubric are available upon request of the first author.
Broader impacts are improved understanding of subduction zone processes by undergraduate students who view the animation.