SBCC students and faculty work with world-renowned geologist

Volunteers create models of the pacific plate during a Plate Tectonics Workshop in the Earth and Biological Sciences building at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif. on Sept. 6, 2013.

Justin Covington

Volunteers create models of the pacific plate during a Plate Tectonics Workshop in the Earth and Biological Sciences building at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif. on Sept. 6, 2013.

Brooke Holland, Features Editor

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A world-renowned geologist worked on campus with City College students and faculty to create plate tectonic models of Southern California.

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Dr. Tanya Atwater, former professor emeritus of Earth Science at UCSB, gives a lecture during a Plate Tectonics Workshop in the Earth and Biological Sciences building at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif. on Sept. 6, 2013.

Dr. Tanya Atwater, professor emeritus of geology at UCSB, visited campus on Friday, Sept. 6. Volunteers, students, and faculty attended a workshop and had the opportunity to work with Atwater in the Earth and Science Building.

Those who attended the workshop created physical models to demonstrate the geological history of Southern California and Baja California during the establishment of the San Andreas Fault system.

“Atwater created something complicated and made it as simple as learning the alphabet,” said City College student Katie Blum.

The tectonic models display the movement of land from millions years ago to present.

Atwater designed colorful paper figures for students to learn the plates evolving theory. The models are widely used in teachers’ classrooms. Each model created at the workshop will be donated to regional elementary, middle, and high schools to use as educational tools.

After the workshop, Atwater discussed the plate tectonic theory and how it relates to the landscapes of Western North America, the San Andreas Fault System, and the mountain ranges of Southern California. Atwater also discussed how the theory affects the Channel Islands.

Atwater earned her Ph.D. in Marine Geophysics from Scripps Institution of Oceanography—SIO is one of the world’s most influential centers for ocean and Earth science research.

Her contributions and discoveries have earned an honorary award by the National Science Foundation for excellence in both research and teaching.

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