# Figure Diagram of earth movements produced by (a) P-waves and (b) S-waves.

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1 Geology 101 Name(s): Lab 11: Earthquakes When the stresses in a rock (which may or may not already be faulted) exceed the tensile strength of the rock, the rock ruptures at a point called the focus or hypocenter. This focus may lie on a pre-existing fault or be on a new fault entirely. This sudden release of energy is called an earthquake. What is felt during an earthquake are the vibrations of the solid earth caused by the passage of seismic waves. These type of waves are elastic because they do not cause any permanent deformation of the rocks they pass through. The energy that propels these waves is called, predictably enough, seismic energy, and this energy propagates through rock away from the focus in all directions (spherically). While the waves are in earth material, there are two types: P- (or primary) waves and S- (or secondary) waves. P-waves travel through rock by alternately compressing and dilating the rock in the direction of motion. Practically, a P-wave feels like a jolt, like a truck has hit the side of the building you re in. S-waves travel through rock by whipsawing the rock at right angles to the direction of wave motion. An S-wave produce a rolling type of motion, similar to the rocking of a boat on the ocean. Figure Diagram of earth movements produced by (a) P-waves and (b) S-waves. The location of the focus of an earthquake is defined by the epicenter, which is the position on the surface of the earth vertically above the focus (this is measured in latitude and longitude), and by the focal depth, the distance (in kilometers) from the epicenter to the focus. Form a line of at least 10 people. Face outwards in the same direction and stand shoulder-to-shoulder. Station someone else as a timer (get a stopwatch) and, upon a signal from the timer, the person at one end should be shoved (not too hard) into his or her neighbor. The push will then be transmitted down the line. When the motion reaches the opposite end of the line, the timer should record the time. This models motion associated with a P-wave.

2 1. a. Record the P-wave travel time: Keep everyone in the line, but this time, link by holding hands at arm s length from your neighbor. The person at one end of the line should sway backwards and this motion should propagate down the line (similar to crack the whip ). Again, time the length of motion and record it. This models motion associated with an S-wave. b. Record the S-wave travel time: c. Which wave travels faster? 2. a. What would happen to the speed of the P-wave if everyone linked at the elbow, rather than stood shoulder-to-shoulder? b. What physical change in an earth material would question 2a model? 3. So do P-waves (or any seismic wave for that matter) travel faster through igneous rocks (density > 2.5 g/cm 3 ) or through sedimentary rocks (density < 2.5 g/cm 3 )? 4. Give a reason rock density is related to seismic wave speed.

3 When an earthquake occurs, seismologists must quickly determine both the magnitude and location of the earthquake (why? For instance, to be able to predict if a tsunami will occur). The location of an earthquake can be determined using triangulation. A seismograph is an instrument which records the exact time when the seismic waves of an earthquake arrive at the seismograph station (called the arrival time). If the time of the actual fault rupture which generated the earthquake (the origin time) is known, then the time the seismic waves took to travel the distance between the focus and the seismograph station (the travel time) can be calculated by simple subtraction: Travel Time = Arrival Time - Origin Time The arrival time and origin time of an earthquake are recorded not in local time, but in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), which is broadcast via radio signal to the seismograph. Of course, if you know the scale of the seismogram, then it is easy to just read off the travel time. On the next page are the traces of three seismographic station outputs during the magnitude 5.2 Duvall earthquake of May 2, 1996 (9:04 PDT). These output traces are called seismograms. Seismographs are instruments that record vibrations in the earth as seismic waves arrive at a seismographic station; last century, they were simply a pen held above a rolling drum covered in paper. These days, they are finely balanced electronics that can detect motion in all three directions (N/S, E/W, up/down). The seismographic stations are located all over the Puget area; the three you will be using are shown on the map two pages hence. 5. Use the three seismograms (the recorded trace of ground motion) from seismic stations JCW, GSM and GMW (see figure 11-2) to determine the travel time of the P-waves at each station (the S-waves, of course, came later). Note the units of the travel times. JCW: GSM: GMW: In order to calculate a distance between the epicenter and the seismograph station from the travel time derived above, you need to know the velocity of the P-wave. What formula connects distance, velocity and time? Distance to epicenter = Now that you have the formula, and the additional information that P-waves travel, on average, at a velocity of 6.5 kilometers/second through the crust, calculate the distance (in kilometers) to each seismograph station from the epicenter. JCW: GSM: GMW:

4 Figure 11-2 Seismograms from seismic stations JCW, GSM and GMW. On the map provided (figure 11-3), use a compass (no, not the north/south kind) to draw a circle around each seismograph station, setting the circle size using the scale on the map and the distances calculated in question 5. In other words, since you can't tell in what direction the seismic waves came from, the circle represents every possible point the earthquake's epicenter could have been.

5 Note that the intersection of three circles will give you a single point; that is the epicenter of the earthquake. Note why this process is called triangulation and also note that if your circles don't intersect, pick an "average" spot in the middle of where the circles come closest together. Figure Map of the Seattle area showing seismic stations JCW, GSM and GMW. 6. How far from Seattle is the epicenter (in kilometers), and in what direction? 7. For many earthquakes, the circles drawn from the seismic stations do not intersect. Give two reasons for this (hint: do earthquakes occur at the surface?).

6 There are several different numerical magnitude systems based on a logarithmic relation between ground motion and the amount of motion recorded on the seismogram; each unit increase in magnitude represents a tenfold increase in the duration of shaking and/or the amplitude of ground motion. Note that it does not mean that every unit increase represents a tenfold increase in the energy of an earthquake. These different systems yield slightly different magnitude estimates. The most famous of these type of scales is the Richter scale, suggested in 1935 by Charles Richter, a seismologist at Caltech. The most commonly used scale today (based on the Richter scale) is the moment magnitude scale (suggested by Hiroo Kanamori at Caltech in 1979), which is calculated by determining the area (length times width) of the fault rupture, the duration of shaking and the type of rock broken and translating that information into a number. Go to the USGS earthquakes page Click on the FAQs link (towards the bottom of the page), then click on the Measuring Earthquakes link. 8. What is the advantage of the magnitude (or moment magnitude) scale over the other scales, such as the Richter scale? 9. In fact, there are many different earthquake scales. The modified Mercalli intensity scale is a different way to measure shaking. How does it differ from the magnitude scale? Find the map of seismic history of western Washington on the side wall of the classroom. Note that earthquake epicenters are plotted on this map, and that the size of the earthquakes are shown by the circles of differing size. 10. Are the earthquakes evenly distributed along a north-south line along the front of the Cascades, as you might expect with the subduction zone off the coast? If not, where do the earthquakes tend to concentrate?

7 11. Note that there is a highly localized clusters of earthquakes to the south of the map. Describe this geographic location and suggest a cause of such repeated seismicity. The following information is taken in part from figure A-4 in Noson, Qamar and Thorsen, Washington State Earthquake Hazards, Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources Information Circular 85 (1988), which lists the largest earthquakes in the Puget region since Year North latitude West longitude Depth (km) Mag. (felt) Mag. (inst.) Area (km 2 ) Location ? 5.7 None? Puget deep 6.0 None 150,000 Puget ? 5.5 None 70,000 Puget deep ,000 Puget deep ,000 Puget ,000 Puget ,000 Puget ,000 Puget 12. Considering only those quakes with a felt magnitude equal or greater than 6.0 (the level for significant damage to occur to human structures), what is the average recurrence interval between these large quakes? 13. Based on this average recurrence interval, when are (or were) we due for the next >6.0 magnitude quake? Are we overdue?

8 14. The Duvall quake had a revised moment magnitude of 5.1; the 1949 Seatac quake had a magnitude of 7.1. How many times more severe was the amplitude of ground motion (shaking) in the Seatac quake compared to the Duvall quake? How many times more energy did the Seatac quake release compared to the Duvall quake (which explains why it was felt so much farther away)? 15. Look at the photo from Washington State Earthquake Hazards; it is of a ghost forest near a tidal flat in Willapa Bay. All of the dead trees died at the same time about 300 years ago. How does it show evidence of a huge (>8.0 magnitude) earthquake in the past? (In fact, the earthquake occurred roughly 300 years ago; the numerical age was obtained by radiocarbon dating.) Hint: the Burke Museum has an excellent explanation go to then click on Detective Story.

9 The National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) in Golden, Colorado ( maintains an excellent site, which maintains a worldwide database for earthquakes. Click on the US Seismicity Map link. The map plots the epicenter of the most recent earthquakes as a circle in its location. 16. What do the colors of the epicenter symbols signify? What do the sizes of the circles representing earthquakes represent? 17. Click on the Info by Region link to the left, then scroll down and click the Washington state link., then scroll down to Recent Earthquakes and click on that link which will take you to the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network site. What was the date, time, location (lat/long) and moment magnitude of the latest quake? Would anyone have felt it? Give a reason why or why not. 18. On the Significant Earthquakes list, click on the recent Vanuatu earthquake (December 12, 2011) link. What tectonic setting may explain the seismicity of this area, and this earthquake in particular?

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