Can Humans Cause Earthquakes?

Removing hydrocarbons has become an essential activity for humankind. However, their production does not come without the potential to affect the natural and built environments, such as increasing seismic hazards. We will explore the science behind this through a classroom-ready lesson that blends crosscutting concepts, disciplinary core ideas, and practices of science and engineering through the eight steps of the ADI process. Students explore a research question, determine the data necessary to explore the question, and collect the data. Through collaborative analysis and interpretation, their data becomes evidence for claims presented in a scientific poster session. Deliberating over conclusions from across the class, and participation in a class discussion about physical processes of induced seismicity sets up teams to further enhance their own arguments. Students collectively participate in, but individually write, a double-blind peer review.

Objectives:

Students work in small groups to:

  • Collect and analyze real earthquake and well data
  • Develop and justify a claim based upon the evidence
  • Discuss and critique the claims of other groups to identify errors or faulty reasoning
  • Prepare an investigative report

Total Time: 8h 30min
Level: Novice

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Related Software-Web-Apps

The IRIS Earthquake Browser (IEB) is an interactive map for exploring millions of seismic event epicenters (normally earthquakes) on a map of the world. Selections of up to 5000 events can also be viewed in 3D and freely rotated with the 3D Viewer companion tool.

Software-Web-App Novice

Related Lessons

In this lab, students investigate a hotly debated topic relevant in the political, economic, and scientific arenas. They will examine the processes involved in unconventional oil and gas resource production, including hydraulic fracturing. In particular, they will examine nearby seismic activity and will be asked to determine if correlations can be established between fluid injection related to hydrofracking or wastewater disposal, and earthquake activity.

Lesson Intermediate