TOEFL >> Reading >> In the reading part of the TOEFL exam, Passages require understanding of rhetorical functions such as cause-effect, compare-contrast and argumentation. Students answer questions about main ideas, details, inferences, essential information, sentence insertion, vocabulary, rhetorical purpose and overall ideas.

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TOEFL Reading - Worksheet 5

Read the passage and choose the best answer to each question.

1. What is the topic of this passage?

  1. earthquakes in Mexico
  2. seismological activity in Mexico
  3. the subduction of tectonic plates

2. What can be inferred from the first paragraph?

  1. Mexico has more earthquakes and volcanic eruptions than most other countries.
  2. Mexico has some earthquakes and few volcanic eruptions.
  3. Mexico has fewer earthquakes than most other countries.

3. In the second paragraph, what is the meaning of the word "crumpled"?

  1. flattened
  2. smoothed
  3. buckled

4. In the second paragraph, what is the meaning of the word "subduction"?

  1. the rising of one plate
  2. the lowering of one plate
  3. one plate is forced to sink below and under another plate

5. In the second paragraph, what does the word "they" refer to?

  1. molten material
  2. rocks
  3. tectonic plates

6. In the last paragraph, what is NOT the meaning of the word "destructive"?

  1. damaging
  2. beneficial
  3. harmful

7. What is the source of earthquakes in Western Mexico?

  1. the subduction of the Pacific and North American plates
  2. movement of the Cocos plate
  3. an extension of the San Andreas fault

8. In the third paragraph, what do the words "this fault" refer to?

  1. a slip fault that is an extension of the San Andreas fault
  2. the Cocos plate fault
  3. the Pacific plate fault

9. Why does the author provide the information in the last paragraph?

  1. to support the statement that Mexico is seismologically active
  2. to keep people from traveling to Mexico
  3. to show how dangerous earthquakes and volanoes are

10. Where does the sentence -- "The motion of these three plates causes earthquakes and volcanic activity." -- best belong?

  1. at the end of the second paragraph
  2. at the beginning of the first paragraph
  3. at the end of the first paragraph

Earthquakes In Mexico

Situated atop three of the large tectonic plates that constitute the earth's surface, Mexico is one of the most seismologically active regions on earth.

Most of the Mexican landmass rests on the westward moving North American plate. The Pacific Ocean floor off southern Mexico, however, is being carried northeast by the underlying motion of the Cocos plate. Ocean floor material is relatively dense; when it strikes the lighter granite of the Mexican landmass, the ocean floor is forced under the landmass, creating the deep Middle American trench that lies off Mexico's southern coast. The westward moving land atop the North American plate is slowed and crumpled where it meets the Cocos plate, creating the mountain ranges of southern Mexico. The subduction of the Cocos plate accounts for the frequency of earthquakes near Mexico's southern coast. As the rocks constituting the ocean floor are forced down, they melt, and the molten material is forced up through weaknesses in the surface rock, creating the volcanoes in the Cordillera Neovolcánica across central Mexico.

Areas off Mexico's coastline on the Gulf of California, including the Baja California Peninsula, are riding northwestward on the Pacific plate. Rather than one plate subducting, the Pacific and North American plates grind past each other, creating a slip fault that is the southern extension of the San Andreas fault in California. Motion along this fault in the past pulled Baja California away from the coast, creating the Gulf of California. Continued motion along this fault is the source of earthquakes in western Mexico.

Mexico has a long history of destructive earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. In September 1985, an earthquake measuring 8.1 on the Richter scale and centered in the subduction zone off Acapulco killed more than 4,000 people in Mexico City, more than 300 kilometers away. Volcán de Colima, south of Guadalajara, which erupted in 1994, is Mexico's most active volcano. El Chichón, in southern Mexico, underwent a violent eruption in 1983. Paricutín in northwest Mexico began as puffs of smoke in a cornfield in 1943; a decade later the volcano was 2,700 meters high. Although dormant for decades, Popocatépetl and Ixtaccíhuatl ("smoking warrior" and "white lady," respectively, in Náhuatl) occasionally send out puffs of smoke clearly visible in Mexico City, a reminder to the capital's inhabitants that volcanic activity is near. Popocatépetl showed renewed activity in 1995 and 1996, forcing the evacuation of several nearby villages and causing concern by seismologists and government officials about the effect that a large-scale eruption might have on the heavily populated region nearby.

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