Exploring Seismology in the Classroom Using the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program Data
Earthquake Data from the USGS Earthquakes Hazards Program (EHP) provide data on global earthquakes for the last 7 days and highlights the history of earthquake occurrences around the world. Earthquakes are represented on maps with links to data including latitude, longitude, magnitude, and time. Symbols representing earthquakes are varied in size, representing magnitude, and in color, representing time of earthquake occurrence (within the last hour, the last 24 hours, or the last 7 days). The site also provides general trends and statistics, documentation of the largest earthquakes to ever occur, the most destructive in history, those with high death tolls, earthquakes listed by year, and the 15 largest US earthquakes.
Use and Relevance
The National Earthquake Information Ceneter (NEIC) is part of United States Geological Survey (USGS) Earthquake Hazards Program (EHP). Data from the EHP are used by response agencies to determine how to direct resources. Scientists use this dataset to determine how earthquakes effect an area and whether seismic data can be used to predict future earthquakes. Engineers use this dataset to study how shaking effects structures and how structures can be built to withstand damage.
Use in Teaching
This dataset can be used to teach the following topics and skills in geophysics and structural geology:
- Natural hazards
- Solid earth
- Plate tectonics
- Seismic networks
- Understanding the collection and transmission of seismic data
- Interpreting earthquake data parameters, including location, depth, and magnitude
- Using seismic data to map plate boundaries
- Using seismic data to determine the highest probability area where an earthquake might occur
- Examining relationships between earthquake parameters and the underlying rock structure
Exploring the Data
Data Type and Presentation
Data are represented graphically on maps, illustrating earthquake location, magnitude, and time. Symbols are used to represent the magnitude of the earthquake. The relative size of the symbol is proportional to magnitude, while the symbol colors represent whether the earthquake occurred in the last hour, day, or week. Recent and historical data are provided graphically and information about specific earthquakes (such as latitude, longitude, time, and depth) is presented in HTML format as a preliminary earthquake report.
Accessing the Data
Data can be accessed in several formats including: