Cutting Edge > Courses > Oceanography > Teaching Activities > Earthquake Compare and Contrast Paper

Earthquake Compare and Contrast Paper

Sarah "Sally" Zellers,
Author Profile

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

This page first made public: May 30, 2013


Students will write a research paper comparing the Sumatran (2004) and Tohoku (2011) tsunami generating earthquakes.



I have used a similar exercise in a class on earthquakes and volcanoes, but it could easily be used in a marine geology or oceanography class.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students should have an understanding of fault types, tsunami and plate tectonics.

How the activity is situated in the course

This would be a stand alone exercise.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Other skills goals for this activity

Description and Teaching Materials

I would assign this at the beginning of the semester. I would ask students to provide a general outline as well as show me their sources well before the paper deadline.

Earthquake Paper (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 19kB May30 13)

Teaching Notes and Tips


Rubric is included in attached file

References and Resources

Students should be introduced to the concept of focal mechanisms before paper is assigned. The USGS has a good site that explains how these are read:

See more Teaching Activities »