0% Complete
Minds on


Natural hazards are occurring all around us. We read about distant ones in the news and see pictures on social media; but sometimes we experience their effects directly. No location on Earth is safe from every type of natural hazard. The unique human and environmental conditions of a location will determine which hazards occur there. We call the process of understanding a location its, "spatial significance.” As an introduction to spatial significance we will answer the question, “What natural hazard has an impact on my home town?”

Fill out the map survey to add your information and then check out other student entries by exploring the map. As you explore, consider these questions.

  • Which hazards are happening where?
  • Why might they be happening there?
  • Why should I care where hazards occur?


The Inquiry Model

The first concept of geographic thinking is called Spatial Significance (definition:The process of understanding the characteristics and importance of a location on the Earth's surface.). Spatial significance is not memorized facts about what you know of a location from previous experience. It involves inquiring about and researching a location to see what makes it unique. Good inquiry always begins by asking/formulating meaningful questions about this place and then finding quality answers. This brings us to the first stage of the Geographic Inquiry Model: "Formulating Questions.”

Inquiry model graphic - formulate questions related to the applicable overall expectation in order to identify the focus of their inqury.


Long Description


This is the dropbox icon. Formulating Questions

Record the five questions you created in your Portfolio.


Spatial Significance

Now that you are armed with the ability to formulate questions, it is time to learn the Concept of Spatial Significance. Completing the spatial significance of a location is nothing short of understanding the importance of what is going on at that location. Locations can be important because of human features such as large cities or human activity like open-pit mining. They can be equally important because of their naturally occurring features, such as mountain ranges, or natural processes such as tectonic plate boundaries. Simply, spatial significance involves understanding both the physical (definition:naturally occuring) and human (definition:created or altered by people) aspects of a location. More fully, it involves the connections between the two and the unique situations created by their interactions. When applied to natural disasters, spatial significance connects the dangers created by the natural landscape to the people living there that may be affected by it.

Let’s practice Spatial Significance with a now familiar image:


Long Description



Long Description



Long Description


Steps in Identifying Spatial Significance:

Applying Spatial Significance: Practice Makes Perfect!

Explore the interactive world map to see the variety of landscapes planet Earth has to offer. Choose three of the locations and write a complete spatial significance for them using the empty template introduced above. You can always refer to the Egypt example which is completed as an exemplar. Save all three of your paragraphs so they can be accessed in the consolidation.


Long Description



test text.