Earthquake Seismograms and Spreadsheets
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 activity, students work with data from an earthquake in South America. Student materials include a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet with marked cells and cells to enter data, a PDF with seismograms, travel-time curve and nomogram, and the instruction sheet. The exercise is divided into three parts.
Part I introduces the concept of a seismogram. Students identify P- and S-wave arrival times and use the differences to obtain distances from a travel-time curve.
In Part II, students work with GPS Visualizer to triangulate the epicenter online and with a nomogram to determine the local magnitude of the earthquake as recorded by each seismometer.
Part III involves an introduction to spreadsheets using a workbook with prepared worksheets. Finally, students rewrite algebraic expressions in computer terms for entering formulas in spreadsheets.
Determining whether students have met the goals
Download teaching materials and tips
- Activity Description/Assignment: Student Instructions for Earthquake Activity (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 2.7MB Jun15 19)
- Instructors Notes: Lecture Slides for Earthquake Activity (Acrobat (PDF) 1.4MB Jun15 19)
- Excel Workbook for Earthquake Activity (Excel 2007 (.xlsx) 13kB Jun15 19)
- Student Handout for Earthquake Activity (Acrobat (PDF) 419kB Jun15 19)
Wald, L., The Science of Earthquakes: Online resource – Accessed June 15, 2019
Earthquake Hazards Program: Online resource – Accessed June 15, 2019
M 8.3 Illapel, Chile, earthquake: Online resource – Accessed June 15, 2019
Schneider, A., 2019, GPS Visualizer: Onlinw resource – Accessed June 15, 2019
Microsoft, 2018, Excel for Windows Video Training: Online resource – Accessed June 15, 2019