Locating an earthquake with recent seismic data


To understand Plate Tectonic processes on the Earth, and to better understand where future earthquakes are likely to occur, it is important to know how to locate earthquakes as they occur. In this activity students use recent, three-component seismic data to locate a global earthquake.


Grades 5 to 12


Approximately 1 hour


By the end of this activity, the student will be able to:
1.  Identify P and S waves on seismograms,
2.  Determine the distance of an epicenter from a seismic station using travel time curves,
3.  Locate the epicenter of an earthquake by triangulation, and
4.  Calculate the time of origin of an earthquake based on seismic data

Supporting Resources

  1. Where do the travel times curves come from?
  2. How do I interpret a 3-component seismogram?