Exploring Rates of Earthquake Occurrence


The activity allows the students to select their own region of interest and to interrogate the earthquake catalog to obtain quantitative data on the rate of occurrence of earthquakes of various magnitudes within their chosen region.


Grades 5 to 12


90 Minutes


  1. Describe where earthquakes generally occur
  2. Describe the frequency of occurence for various sized earthquakes
  3. Describe how regional tectonics affect distribution and frequency of earthquakes
  4. Describe strengths and weaknesses of using historic Earthquake occurrence to “predict” future occurrences

Supporting Resources

Activity Description Barker, J. (2005) Student-centered experiments with earthquake occurrence data. The Earth Scientist 21(2), 21-23. (pdf download)

Seismic/Eruption Software (PC Only)

Graph for Data (G-R Plot)

Supporting Slide Show (Direct Download 2MB)

An example analysis of California and Nevada by Larry Braile

This activity can also be conducted using the online tool, the IRIS Earthquake Browser (IEB) http://www.iris.edu/ieb/