Earthquake Early Warning Demonstration

Beth Bartel (UNAVCO), Shelley Olds (UNAVCO), Daniel Zietlow (UNAVCO), & David Thesenga (Alexander Dawson School)

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Summary

This hands-on demonstration illustrates how GPS instruments can be used in earthquake early warning systems to alert people of impending shaking. The same principles can be applied to other types of early warning systems (such as tsunami) or to early warning systems using a different type of geophysical sensor (such as a seismometer instead of a GPS).

This demo works best with a large audience (ideally over 30 people) in an auditorium. A few people are selected to be either surgeons, GPS stations, or a warning siren, with everyone else forming an earthquake "wave."

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Context

Audience

This demo works best with a large audience (ideally over 30 people) in an auditorium or other large space.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

It helps if learners have a general understanding of GPS and earthquakes.

How the activity is situated in the course

This demonstration can be used at any time in an earth science class particularly within lessons about earthquakes, earthquake early warning, and preparedness. It can be used as an introductory demonstration for learners in classroom and informal settings. The demonstration takes about 5 - 20 minutes of class time.

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

  • When earthquakes happen, they radiate seismic energy as different types of waves.
  • The farther you are from an earthquake, the longer it takes to begin feeling shaking.
  • A network of GPS systems can be used to monitor the motion of the ground and how the earthquake waves are moving.
  • Knowing when shaking will begin is important to the general public (in order to get to safety), infrastructure (to protect power stations or shut down public transportation), medical services (to halt on-going surgeries), and emergency personnel.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Other skills goals for this activity

Description and Teaching Materials

This hands-on demonstration illustrates how GPS instruments can be used in earthquake early warning systems to alert people of impending shaking.

Earthquake Early Warning Demonstration (Acrobat (PDF) 66kB Oct31 21)

Assessment

This is a demonstration and has no formal assessment.

References and Resources

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