Determining Shallow Earth Structure

Tammy Bravo
IRIS Consortium, Education and Outreach
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Initial Publication Date: May 15, 2019 | Reviewed: December 10, 2020


This activity is intended to extend students' learning of fundamental physics concepts (e.g. reflection, refraction and transmission of energy) through a real-world application.

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Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  1. Identify the following elements of a seismic experiment: Angle of reflection, Angle of refraction, Headwave, Direct wave, Normal, Critical angle, Snell's Law
  2. Determine the depth of bedrock by analyzing a simple seismic section.

Context for Use

This activity is intended as a Extend Phase activity to provide students with a real-world application for the concepts of waves. This should follow an Explore/Explain phases activity, such as the traditional light lab that explains concepts included in this lab such as reflection, refraction and transmission of energy.

Description and Teaching Materials