Exploring three-component seismic data with accelerometers

Description

In this activity, students will use an accelerometer (iPhone, laptop or USB) to kinesthetically explore the physical "meaning" of three component seismic data by replicating a seismogram by moving the accelerometer.

Audience

All Audiences

Time

70 Minutes

Objective

  1. Describe the information contained in a three-component seismogram
  2. Identify the first S and P waves on a three-component seismogram.
  3. Describe how first S and P wave arrivals provide evidence for the curved path seismic waves take when they travel through the Earth

Supporting Resources

For the lesson

Earthquake video clip (YouTube) – 1995 Kobe 7.2M

Download a three-component seismogram from a recent event via the Rapid Earthquake Viewer or use these sample seismograms

 

Accelerometers

Internal accelerometers

  • Mac laptops only - SeisMac software
  • PC, Mac and Linux laptops - QCNLive software
  • iPhone & iTouch - iSeismometer (this is a robust and free app but others with various functionalities are available through iTunes)

External accelerometer

  • USB accelerometers (for Macs, PCs and Lunix) can be purchased from the Quake Catchers Network (request a sensor on right hand menu)
  • USB drivers and display software for PC, Mac and Linux laptops - QCNLive software

 

Related accelerometer activities

Downloads