Questions for ‘The Alps’ Matterhorn shows how much even big mountains sway’

a snow-dusted mountain peak in a range stands out against a cloudy blue sky

Switzerland’s iconic Matterhorn peak, here, was the site of monitoring to assess how much this mass of rock is continuously moving.

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To accompany The Alps’ Matterhorn shows how much even big mountains sway


Before Reading:

  1. What makes a bell ring? What creates the sound and carries it to ears that may be a long distance away?
  2. What are waves? Give some examples of waves that move through solids (such as the Earth) or fluids (such as water or gases)?

During Reading:

  1. Where is the Matterhorn and what new thing did scientists measure there? What tools did those researchers use to make those measurements?
  2. How long is the typical sway of the Matterhorn’s summit? How, if at all, does that differ from what happens at its base?
  3. Jeff Moore says that “Earth is constantly humming” with energy. What are some sources of that energy?
  4. What is the connection the new study found between the Matterhorn and the ocean?
  5. How much can a mountaintop move, according to Moore?
  6. What are some practical applications for the type of measurements that Moore’s team collected?

After Reading:

  1. The research team installed three motion sensors on the Matterhorn. The story doesn’t explain the reason, but why do you think they used more than one? What might they learn by having several?
  2. The researchers mentioned that their data could help identify risk of landslides for people in nearby alpine communities. They did not mention avalanches. But what do you think? Might the Matterhorn’s shimmying increase the risk that huge quantities of snow might come loose and roar down a mountainside? Look for support from the story to justify your answer.