# Earthquake Lab Introduction: Purpose: Method: Equipment needed: Fundamental Concepts and Key Terms:

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1 Earthquake Lab Introduction: Seismology is that branch of the geological sciences which is concerned with the study of earthquakes. Purpose: The purpose of this exercise is to introduce some fundamental concepts of seismology including: 1) The calculation of the earthquake location 2) Earthquake magnitude, energy, and frequency Method: Mathematical and graphical methods are used to determine the locations and the characteristics of earthquakes. Equipment needed: Pencil, eraser(nobody is perfect!), compass, straightedge, and scratch paper. Fundamental Concepts and Key Terms: underlined words Much of what we know about the internal composition and structure of the earth (and now the moon) is obtained from earthquake records or seismograms which are collected at seismograph stations. In this lab, you will investigate how to interpret seismic data collected at a station located at Bowling Green State University. Most earthquakes are caused by the sudden rupture of rock masses along fractures or faults in the crust. The movement may be visible at the surface (as in the San Andreas Fault) or may occur along faults buried deep in the earth's crust. The location of the point of rupture of the earthquake is called the focus or hypocenter of the quake. The point on the earth's surface directly above the focus is called the epicenter. This is usually the place that has the greatest damage. Elastic energy, movement, released at the focus of the earthquake is transmitted through the earth in the form of various seismic waves. Waves which travel, or propagate, through the interior of the earth are called body waves. Waves which propagate along the surface of the earth are called surface waves. Body Waves: The motion of the vibrating particles of the rock may be parallel to the direction in which the wave is travelling, resulting in a compressional wave called the primary wave or a P-wave. If the motion of the particle is perpendicular to the direction of wave movement, a shear wave called the secondary wave or a S- wave is produced. Surface Waves: The motion of the vibrating particles for surface waves is a lot more complex than for the body waves. There are two types, Rayleigh waves or R-waves and Love waves or L-waves. When the particles move in an elliptical, counterclockwise path within a vertical plane, up and down, while the direction of the wave moves horizontal, R-waves are created. When particles move back and forth in a plane, side to side, while the direction of the wave moves horizontal, L-waves are created. L-waves are the most destructive seismic waves. The first waves to arrive at the seismograph station are the P-waves followed by the S-waves. The time lag between the arrival of the P and S waves indicates that their velocities are different. In other words, P-waves travel faster than S-waves. The difference in arrival time between the two waves increases with increasing distance from the focus, so this time lag may be used to calculate the distance from the seismograph station to the epicenter. 1

2 Earthquake Epicenter: Four partial records (seismograms) of the same earthquake, recorded at Bowling Green (BGO), San Francisco (SFC), Seattle (SEA), and Salt Lake City (SLC) are shown in Figure 1. On each line in Figure 1, the first (left) deflection marks the arrival of the P-waves and the second deflection indicates the arrival of the S-waves. Using the information provided in Figure 1, answer the following. 1. Calculate the differences in the arrival times of the S and P-waves (S-P) for each station. BGO minutes : seconds SFC minutes : seconds SEA minutes : seconds SLC minutes : seconds 2. Determine the arrival times of the S-waves at each station. BGO EST SFC PST SEA PST SLC MST 3. Using the differences in arrival times of the S and P waves determined above, and the time-distance table (Table 1), calculate the distance to the earthquake epicenter from each of the stations. BGO to earthquake miles SFC to earthquake miles SEA to earthquake miles SLC to earthquake miles 2

3 Figure 1 3

4 Table 1 Travel Time vs Distance of P and S-waves S-wave minus P-wave P-wave minus origin time Distance to epicenter (min:sec) (min:sec) km miles 1:00 1: :30 1: :00 2: :30 3: :00 3: :30 4: :00 5: :30 5: :00 6: :30 6: :00 7: :30 8: :00 8: On the map of the United States (Figure 2), draw compass arcs with centers at the four stations and with radii corresponding to the calculated distances from question 3. Show the location of the epicenter on the map. Use the scale at the lower left of the map (Figure 2) to determine the compass arcs. 5. The arrival time of the P-waves at each of the four stations is shown on the seismograms. Using the time-distance table (Table 1) and station BGO (Figure 1), determine at what time the quake actually occurred (origin time of the quake). Show your calculations of how you arrived at your answer. Origin time of quake: 4:57:00 EST PW - OT = 5:40 PW = 5:02:40 OT = (5:02:40) - (00:05:40) OT = 4:57:00 Earthquake Magnitude: The Richter scale of earthquake magnitudes was developed to describe quantitatively the "strength" of an earthquake and the amount of energy released by the quake. The Richter magnitude, M, is defined as M = log B - log B 0 Lucky for us, we don't have to do the math to find the magnitude. To calculate the magnitude of an earthquake, a nomogram (Figure 3), derived from the above equation, may be used. For example, if the trace amplitude of the surface wave (B) is 1mm and if the b seismograph station is located at a distance of 800 km from the epicenter, a straight line drawn through these two points, on the nomogram in Figure 3, gives you a Richter magnitude (M) of

5 Figure 2 5

6 Figure 3 Lets say an earthquake occurred with its epicenter in southern Illinois. The seismograph station in Bowling Green (BGO), which is 600 km (373 miles) away, records the quake with a maximum amplitude of the surfaces waves of.1mm. Given this information, answer the following questions. 6. What is the Richter magnitude of the Illinois earthquake? M = 7. If a seismograph station were located 200 km, from the above quake, the amplitude (B) of the trace would be what? B = Once the magnitude of an earthquake has been determined, the approximate amount of energy released by the quake can be computed from the following formula: log E = M where: E = energy in ergs M = Richter magnitude of the quake 6

7 This is an empirical formula: that is, it was derived from the results of many observations, experiments, and related calculations. The equation on the preceding page is plotted in Figure 4. Note from this graph that, as the magnitude of a quake increases by 1 (from 3 to 4, for example), the energy released by the quake increases by more than a factor of Using Figure 4. calculate the amount of energy released by the southern Illinois earthquake. Try using the equation and Figure 4 to get your answer. Energy released = ergs To get a "feeling" for how much energy is released by a large earthquake, comparisons of quakes with nuclear explosions are often made. An atomic bomb of the Hiroshima type releases about 8 x ergs of energy while the largest earthquake ever recorded (M = 8.9) released ergs = 100,000 x ) of energy. 9. A quake of magnitude 8.9 is roughly equivalent to how many atomic bombs of the Hiroshima type? Show your calculations. M (8.9) = atomic bombs Frequency of Earthquake Occurrence: Although currently there are no reliable means of predicting where and when an earthquake will occur, an estimate of how frequently an earthquake of any particular magnitude occurs can be made. Based on data from all over the world, it has been determined that the frequewncy of occurrence of earthquakes of any given magnitude is approximately 8 to 10 times greater than that of earthquakes one magnitude higher. That is, a quake of magnitude 7 in general occurs 8 to 10 times more frequently than does a quake of magnitude 8. One relationship which has been developed strictly for southern California is that log N = M The equation given above is plotted in Figure 5. where N = number of shocks of magnitude M or greater per year M = Richter magnitude of the quake 10. In southern California, according to Figure 5, how many quakes of magnitude 4 or larger occur each year? Try using the equation and Figure 5 to get your answer. Show calculations. N = quakes per year. 7

8 11. How many quakes of magnitude 5 or larger occur each year? Try using the equation and Figure 5 to get your answer. Show calculations. N = quakes per year. 12. The ratio of the frequency of occurrence of a quake of magnitude 4 or greater to the frequency of occurrence of a quake of magnitude 5 or greater is: N (4 or greater): N (5 or greater) = : 13. Considering the cause of earthquakes, what major geological feature shown on the map of the United States is probably related to the earthquake; the epicenter of which you calculated in question 4 of this lab. 8

9 Figure 4 9

10 Figure 5 10

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