Determining Earthquake Probability and Recurrence from Past Seismic Events
This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection
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- Scientific Accuracy
- Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
- Pedagogic Effectiveness
- Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
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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
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."
You will need log paper to graph the magnitude and period on. Here (Excel 12kB Feb20 05) is an excel graph done for this.
References and Resources
Controlled Vocabulary Terms
Resource Type: Activities:Classroom Activity, Lab Activity
Special Interest: Quantitative, 2YC:Geo2YC, Geo2YC- OLD DO NOT USE, Hazards
Grade Level: College Lower (13-14):Introductory Level
Quantitative Skills: Graphs, Probability and Statistics, Logarithms/Exponential Functions:Logarithms, Logarithms/Exponential Functions, Probability and Statistics:Probability, Logarithms/Exponential Functions:Exponential Growth and Decay, Arithmetic/Computation, Probability and Statistics:Data Trends:Curve Fitting/Regression, Probability and Statistics:Data Trends, Describing Data Distribution
Ready for Use: Ready to Use
Use: Enabling Student Investigation:Analyze published data, Collect and interpret data, Illustrating concepts and ideas
Data Derived: Data Derived
Earth System Topics: Human Dimensions:Natural Hazards, Solid Earth:Earthquakes, Deformation
Quantitative Skills Activity Type: Lab Activity, Classroom Activity
Topics: Human Dimensions/Resources, Solid Earth, Structural Geology:Geophysics and Structural Geology/Earthquakes/Seismic Reflection Profiling
Theme: Teach the Earth:Teaching Topics:Earthquakes, Teach the Earth:Teaching Environments:Intro Geoscience, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Environmental Science, Teach the Earth:Incorporating Societal Issues:Hazards, Teach the Earth:Teaching Environments:Two-Year Colleges, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Geophysics, Structural Geology