Downloading Earthquake Data from the USGS Earthquake Hazards Site for Anywhere in the World and Studying it Using ArcGIS
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)
- Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page
For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.
This page first made public: Jul 9, 2008
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Other skills goals for this activity
Description of the activity/assignment
In this in-class activity, students download earthquake data from the Sumatra area and examine it first in Excel. They quickly observe that, even when they sort the spreadsheet in various ways, they can develop only a limited picture of the data. In the second part of the activity, students bring the data into ArcMap to portray it spatially, and they change the symbols to portray various attributes of the earthquakes. In the final part of the activity, students display the data in three dimensions in ArcScene. This latter is particularly powerful, because students can interactively rotate the ArcScene, which helps immensely in their abilities to visualize the depth distribution of quakes.
Although the activity focuses on Sumatra, the activity could easily be done for any area of the world. Later in the semester in this course, students download earthquake data from other areas in the world when they evaluate earthquake hazards in other regions.
You can also download a GIS Primer (Acrobat (PDF) 1.2MB Mar30 10) that we have written, which is a simple GIS "how-to" manual for tasks including those used in this exercise.
Determining whether students have met the goals
Download teaching materials and tips
- Activity Description/Assignment (Acrobat (PDF) 138kB Jul9 08)
- Continents shape file for the activity (zipped folder) ( 2.1MB Jul9 08)