Earthquakes... Like Ripples on Water?

This poster combines a visualization of ground motion resulting from the February 21, 2008 M 6.0 earthquake that occurred near Wells, NV, with the image of a faucet to illustrate a classic Earth science functional analogy: "Seismic waves radiate outward from an earthquake's epicenter like ripples on water". For students this discrepant image attracts attention and links the unfamiliar concept of the spreading out of seismic waves (the target) to a similar but more familiar scenario of ripples on water radiating outwards in all directions after a droplet or pebble falls onto it (the analog). Additionally the material is made approachable by using a clean artistic design, connections to concepts that students are likely to have experienced, and a prominent URL at the bottom of the poster that students can follow to learn more. When presented at the beginning of seismic waves instruction, this poster and its question (Earthquakes... like ripples on water?) becomes the catalyst for student-generated questions, inquiry, and learning.


Keypoints:

  • Seismic waves propagate outwards, as wave fronts, in all directions following an earthquake

 

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Level: Novice

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