Describing a Recent Seismic Event

In this roll play activity students are preparing to be interviewed by the local media about a recent newsworthy quake. The student worksheet walks students through a series of questions to help them prepare. Answering the questions requires making use of the event specific details and the background information provided. However, all answers must be combined with a broader geologic understanding to truly prepare. The activity as provided uses the May 12, 2008 - Sichuan Earthquake as an example. However, the activity could be updated by providing students with similar information from a more recent quake. 

Author: Seth Stein, Northwestern University (


Students will be able to:

  • Calculate the seismic moment for a quake
  • Predict the rupture length (km) and average displacement (m) and the downdip dimension (fault width)
  • Compare and contrast their predictions with aftershock paterns and body wave  modeling
  • Determine the type of fault a quake occured on and its tectonic cause


Total Time: 1h
Level: Advanced

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