How Many and What Location did M5.0 or Larger earthquakes Occur During a Four-Day Period?

Michael Hernandez, Weber State University
Author Profile


Every week, numerous potentially damaging earthquakes occur around the world. To demonstrate the frequency geography of these earthquakes, you will use U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY's Earthquake Tracker, an online resource, to list the locations / facts of all the magnitude 5.0 or higher earthquakes for the 4-day period. You will record information about the earthquakes (e.g., magnitude, date/time, depth, nearest city) in a word processing document and save as a pdf. Once you have completed this assignment, you will save your file and submit it as an attachment.
1. Successfully interact with the USGS Earthquake Tracker to identify a subset of earthquakes based on magnitude.
2. Understand the relationship between earthquakes and Plate Tectonics.
KEY WORDS: Earthquakes, magnitude, U.S. Geological Survey

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications

Learning Goals

Content/concepts goals
Goal: Reinforce conceptual understanding of earthquake magnitudes/location to tectonic plates.

Higher order thinking skills goals
Skill goal: analyze the relationship between damaging earthquakes and tectonic plates.

Other skills goals
1. Successfully interact with U.S. Geological Survey Earthquake data website to query and identify subset of earthquakes over a given period of time.
2. Gather data in a simplified form using a common application.

Context for Use

Type and level of course
This activity is designed for an introductory Earth Science course for non-majors.

Skills and concepts students should have mastered
Skills needed include ability to navigate to a web site, query an online database using available tools, and input data into a word processing application.
Concepts to understand include Plate Tectonics, earthquake magnitude scale, locating earthquake epicenters, and relationship between earthquakes and tectonic plate boundaries and intraplate occurrences.

How the activity is situated in the course
This is a standalone exercise.

Description and Teaching Materials

See the attached MS Word document for the above details.
GlobalEarthquakeTrackingAnalysis (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 1.9MB May2 17)

Teaching Notes and Tips

Be sure to check the USGS web url to ensure the link is still active.


1. Students accurately identify the number and location of M5.0+ earthquakes that occurred worldwide during the effective time period.
2. Students correctly determine the type of plate boundary the majority of earthquakes occurred on during the effective time period.

References and Resources

USGS Earthquake Tracker website:
This site is required to collect the current M 5.0+ earthquake epicenter data for the assignment.