This is an interactive Internet lesson in which students will explore earthquakes by reading eyewitness accounts and viewing animations of earthquake causes and forces. Students will also learn how to measure earthquakes and locate their centers by working with real seismograms. As part of an ongoing process, students will apply what they learn by monitoring daily seismic activity around the world for major earthquakes and by keeping a journal of their magnitude and epicenter location. This lesson utilizes reading, writing, and computational skills in an interdisciplinary format.
Earth Science, Mathematics, Language Arts, Geography
Scales, logarithms, amplitude, graphs, ratios, proportions, radius, compass, magnitude, intensity, plate tectonics, faults, seismic waves, seismograms, maps.
Students will be able to:
- Describe the characteristics of an earthquake;
- Understand the causes of an earthquake;
- Describe the different seismic waves;
- Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the Richter and Mercalli scales;
- Measure time and amplitude on a seismogram;
- Calculate the magnitude of a local earthquake using a nomogram;
- Calculate the epicenter distance of a local earthquake using a nomogram;
- Calculate the magnitude of a global earthquake using a formula;
- Calculate the epicenter distance of a global earthquake using a P and S wave travel-time graph;
- Locate the epicenter of an earthquake by triangulating on a map.
- 1 journal folder containing loose-leaf and pockets.
- 1 compass and metric ruler.
- 1 outline map (http://www.eduplace.com/ss/ssmaps) of the major continents plus California regions and the United States (a map of South America is needed for Lesson Five).
- 1 scientific calculator with logarithmic functions.
- 1 P and S wave travel-time graph (a standard reference table in most Earth Science textbooks).
- 1 map of stations (http://aslwww.cr.usgs.gov/Stations/station_info/mainmap.htm) operated by the USGS Albuquerque Seismological Laboratory.
- Atlas (one or two per class of students).
- Computers with access to the World Wide Web (ideally, one per group of three students).
- Printers with graphic capability (inkjet or laser are best) and printer paper.
You will need at least one multimedia computer workstation with Internet access. We recommend, as a minimum, using Macintosh II series running System 7.0 or higher, or a 386 IBM compatible PC running Windows 3.1 or higher. We also recommend a minimum modem speed of 14.4K bps, though 28.8K is preferable. The Internet plug-ins Shockwave and Flash should be added to your Internet browser to view certain applications. They are available on the Internet at Macromedia.com.
(For a description of each site, go to the Resources Section.)
Bookmark the following sites:
Earthquakes: Eyewitness Accounts
Before, During, and After
Earthquakes: The Richter Scale
Savage Earth Online
Electronic Desktop Project: Virtual Earthquake
Live Internet Seismic Server
Make Your Own Seismogram!
PNSN Webicorder Display
The Java Helicorder
USGS: Ask A Geologist
Build Your Own Seismograph
Students should have some familiarity with the Internet and how to utilize a Web browser.