Modernizing your introductory seismology content with new data-rich classroom modules

Thursday 11:30am-1:30pm UMC Aspen Rooms


John Taber, IRIS
Margaret Benoit, The College of New Jersey
Introductory Earth science classes can become more interactive through the use of a range of seismic data and models, which students can also use to conduct simple research regarding earthquakes and earth structure. One way to introduce students to these data sets is via a new set of six intro-level classroom activities designed to introduce undergraduates to some of the grand challenges in modern seismological research. The activities all use real data sets and some require students to collect their own data, either using physical models or via Web sites and Web applications. While the activities are designed to step students through a learning sequence, several of the activities are open-ended and can be expanded to research topics. For example, collecting and analyzing data from a deceptively simple physical model of earthquake behavior can lead students to query a map-based seismicity catalog via the IRIS Earthquake Browser to study seismicity rates and the distribution of earthquake magnitudes, and make predictions about the earthquake hazards in regions of their choosing. In another activity, students can pose their own questions and reach conclusions regarding the correlation between hydraulic fracturing, waste-water disposal, and earthquakes.

Other data sources are also available for students to engage in self-directed research projects. For students with an interest in instrumentation, they can conduct research relating to instrument calibration and sensitivity using a simple educational seismometer. More advanced students can explore tomographic models of seismic velocity structure, and examine research questions related to earth structure, such as the correlation of topography to crustal thickness, and the fate of subducted slabs. For all of these topics and data sets, the societal impact of earthquakes can provide an additional motivation for students to engage in their research.