In this activity students explore the rate of earthquake occurrence for areas of Earth they choose to explore. Data is accessed through the simple interface of the IRIS Earthquake Browser (See Related Resources above). After compiling their data for various sized earthquakes, students calculate reoccurrence intervals for each magnitude and plot the data on a semi-log graph for interpretation. Discussions of the collected data touches on strengths and limitations of their data set, possible societal implications (e.g. building codes etc), as well as concepts related to earthquake prediction and forecasting.
Students will be able to:
- Describe general patterns of global earthquake occurance (e.g. ring of fire)
- Use the IRIS Earthquake Browser to generate a graph showing the frequencey of various sized earthqaukes for a region or the entire world
- Explain how regional tectonics affect the size and frequency of earthquakes
- Assess the strengths and weaknesses of an argument for using historic earthquake occurrence to “predict” future occurrences