Determining Earthquake Probability and Recurrence from Past Seismic Events
This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection
This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are
- Scientific Accuracy
- Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
- Pedagogic Effectiveness
- Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
- Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page
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This page first made public: Feb 25, 2006
- graph data
- make a prediction of the recurrence interval of a large earthquake based on limited historical data
- make recurrence intervals calculations
- gather historical earthquake data from NEIC data.
- discuss the implications of the greater frequency of moderate earthquakes compared to great earthquakes on earthquake preparedness.
Context for Use
Description and Teaching Materials
You will need log paper to graph the magnitude and period on. Here (Excel 12kB Feb20 05) is an excel graph done for this.
Teaching Notes and Tips
- This activity will require internet access for all students to complete the homework. They should also have calculators.
- I find that I need to request more detailed answers to the question about outliers and other the question about problems with the data that they have collected. Otherwise, I get simplistic answers.
- Many students will need instruction on plotting a best-fit line and how to plot on a logarithmic scale.
- Finally, I encourage students to think about their answers - they often punch the numbers into their calculators wrong (or punch numbers in the wrong order and get the inverse on their division problems). The answers are wildly wrong, but if they don't think about them, they won't recognize this.
- I have a class discussion on the last question to avoid the simplistic answer to "just prepare for a great earthquake since then we'll be prepared for a moderate one."