Cutting Edge > Geophysics > Teaching Activities > Earthquake Location

Earthquake Location

Lawrence W. Braile
,
Purdue University
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This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process.

This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Collection

Resources in this top level collection a) must have scored Exemplary or Very Good in all five review categories, and must also rate as “Exemplary” in at least three of the five categories. The five categories included in the peer review process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
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For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.



This page first made public: Jul 5, 2007

Summary

Earthquake location is an interesting and significant aspect of seismology. A number of methods that vary from simple to complex are available for learning about earthquake location. The methods also allow connections to other important concepts in seismology and provide a variety of approaches that address different learning styles and can be used for reinforcement and assessment.

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Context

Audience

Multiple methods allow use in K-16 courses.
Designed for a geophysics course
Integrates geophysics into a core course in geology
Designed for an introductory geology course

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Variable depending on method selected, basic mathematics to an understanding of least squares method.

How the activity is situated in the course

Sequence of activities; could select one as a stand-alone exercise.

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

Understanding earthquake location.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Analysis and interpretation of seismograms, understanding Earth structure.

Other skills goals for this activity

Using software applications, obtaining data from the Internet, graphing.

Description of the activity/assignment

Earthquake location is an interesting and significant aspect of seismology. Locating earthquakes is necessary for compiling useful seismicity information, calculating magnitudes, and study of fault zones, Earth structure and the earthquake process. Methods of earthquake location involve understanding of seismic waves, wave propagation, interpretation of seismograms, Earth velocity structure, triangulation, and the concepts (and mathematics) of inverse problems. Because earthquake location can be approached with relatively simple to very complex methods, it can be included in various levels of educational curricula and for "in-depth" study. Progressively developing a deep understanding of concepts, computational techniques and applications (and the capabilities, limitations and uncertainties of these applications) is a characteristic of science and an ‎opportunity to "learn science by doing science." A number of methods that vary from simple to complex are available for learning about earthquake location. The methods also allow connections to other important concepts in seismology and provide a variety of approaches that address different learning styles and can be used for reinforcement and assessment.

Uses online and/or real-time data
Has minimal/no quantitative component

Determining whether students have met the goals

Graphical and numerical results from each student or student group indicate accuracy of result and understanding of concepts.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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Supporting references/URLs

URLs are listed in full activity.

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