Finding your Center-Earthquakes! (Rachel Stull)

Learning ObjectiveAfter completion of this three part lab, the student will be able to locate an epicenter of an earthquake, graph time event data for the San Andreas Fault and find distance based on time lag data only.

Materials:  Compass




Students will be put in three groups for the three sections lab.  (Total of Nine tables.) Each stations will be given 20 minutes to complete each section.  They will then rotate to the next station.  At each station they will given the appropriate tools. (compass, rulers, calculators.)

Station 1:  

Step 1: Locating the earthquake: Measure the SP interval for three seismographs.  Multiply that interval by 9.7 km to get the distance.  

Step 2: They will then use that distance to find the epicenter.  Use the scale map on page one and determine the opening of the compass to correspond to the distance from step 1.  

Step 3: Use a nomogram to find the magnitude of each seismogram.  

Station 2:

This station requires the students to graph the event times of past San Andreas at Pallet Creek.  They will use the graph and the data table to answer questions related to San Andreas fault movement and earthquake prediction.

Station 3:  Determining time lag between P and S waves based on the difference in seconds.  The students will be calculated time lag by subtracting event times and using the formula of Time lag in seconds/5Seconds X 60 km.  This will given them the distance.  


Those students who finish all the station first will get 5 points of extra credit and will be my assistants for the rest of the class.  

Power point for step by step instructions:


Links for the Lab and other earthquake labs:

Animations for that are helpful for the Lab

This a computer version of the paper lab

This is the best lab I have found for earthquakes and worth the lab time

Area Earth Science
• Sub-Strand Dynamic Earth Processes
• Concept 3Plate tectonics operating over geologic time has changed the patterns of land, sea, and mountains on Earth’s surface. As the basis for understanding this concept:
 Standard dStudents know why and how earthquakes occur and the scales used to measure their intensity and magnitude.
• Sub-Strand California Geology
• Concept 9The geology of California underlies the state’s wealth of natural resources as well as its natural hazards. As a basis for understanding this concept:
 Standard bStudents know the principal natural hazards in different California regions and the geologic basis of those hazards.
 Standard dStudents know how to analyze published geologic hazard maps of California and know how to use the map’s information to identify evidence of geologic events of the past and predict geologic changes in the future.
• Area Investigation and Experimentation
• Sub-Strand 1Scientific progress is made by asking meaningful questions and conducting careful investigations. As a basis for understanding this concept and addressing the content in the other four strands, students should develop their own questions and perform investigations. Students will:
 Standard aSelect and use appropriate tools and technology (such as computer-linked probes, spreadsheets, and graphing calculators) to perform tests, collect data, analyze relationships, and display data.
 Standard eSolve scientific problems by using quadratic equations and simple trigonometric, exponential, and logarithmic functions.
 Standard iAnalyze the locations, sequences, or time intervals that are characteristic of natural phenomena (e.g., relative ages of rocks, locations of planets over time, and succession of species in an ecosystem).
Norman Herr,
Nov 15, 2010, 4:55 PM
Norman Herr,
Nov 15, 2010, 4:50 PM