Earthquake Location: With real seismogram data
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 https://serc.carleton.edu/teachearth/activity_review.html.
This page first made public: May 24, 2018
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
How the activity is situated in the course
It could also be done as part of a physical science unit as an applied example of wave types and characteristics.
Content/concepts goals for this activity
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Other skills goals for this activity
Description and Teaching Materials
Earthquake Location Activity (Acrobat (PDF) 1.1MB May23 18)
Teaching Notes and Tips
- The activity requires mathematical compasses.
- The terms "triangulation" and "trilateration" can be confused. Technically, triangulation is using angles or compass bearings from three different locations to determine the point of interest. Trilateration is using the distance from three different locations to determine the point of interest. Technically than, the process of locating an earthquake epicenter is trilateration although certainly you will see it called triangulation too. The original version of the exercise was used the term loosely.
- You may need to spend a little time coaching the students on how to read a seismogram. Some students may find it a bit challenging to handle the uncertainty of making estimations from real data.
- In reality, determining earthquake location and rupture characteristics is much more complicated than is depicted here. Nonetheless, this exercise gives students an introduction the basic premise for how it is done.
The student exercise serves as the summative assessment for the activity. The questions have clearly correct answers.