Exploring Rates of Earthquake Occurrence

In this activity students explore the rate of earthquake occurrence for areas of Earth they choose to explore. Data is accessed through the simple interface of the IRIS Earthquake Browser (See Related Resources above). After compiling their data for various sized earthquakes, students calculate reoccurrence intervals for each magnitude and plot the data on a semi-log graph for interpretation.  Discussions of the collected data touches on strengths and limitations of their data set, possible societal implications (e.g. building codes etc), as well as concepts related to earthquake prediction and forecasting.

Objectives:

Students will be able to:

  • Describe general patterns of global earthquake occurance (e.g. ring of fire)
  • Use the IRIS Earthquake Browser to generate a graph showing the frequencey of various sized earthqaukes for a region or the entire world
  • Explain how regional tectonics affect the size and frequency of earthquakes
  • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of an argument for using historic earthquake occurrence to “predict” future occurrences

Total Time: 1h 30min
Level: Novice

2MB

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Related Software-Web-Apps

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Watch how earthquake and volcanic activity changes in space and time throughout the earth.

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Related Fact-Sheets

Earth is an active place and earthquakes are always happening somewhere. In fact, the National Earthquake Information Center locates about 12,000-14,000 earthquakes each year! This fact sheet illustrates information on the frequency of earthquakes of various magnitudes, along with details on the effects of earthquakes and the equivalent energy release.

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This poster outlines the lessons learned from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and discusses 100 years of large earthquakes, including the Sumatra earthquake that caused a devastating tsunami.

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