# Earthquake Investigation

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1 Exploration A Earthquake Investigation 1. Obtain a piece of plastic putty and knead it into a rectangular shape. 2. Push the ends of the putty toward the middle. Draw and describe what it looks like below. 3. Return the putty to the rectangular shape. This time, pull the ends of the putty apart. Draw and describe what it looks like below. 4. Return the putty to the rectangular shape. Push half of the putty one way and the other half in the opposite direction. Draw and describe what it looks like below. 5. With your teacher s help, label your drawings in steps two, three, and four with the type of stress that is being modeled. Exploration B The previous exploration modeled the different types of stress that occurs at faults. This exploration will show what happens as the stress builds. 1. Holding a Popsicle stick at both ends, slowly bend it a few degrees. 2. Release the pressure on the Popsicle stick. 3. What happens? 4. Repeat step one. This time, however, keep bending the ends of the Popsicle stick toward each other. What happens to the wood? 5. What do you think the Popsicle stick represents? 6. What do you think might eventually happen as the forces of plate movement bend the crust? Page 1

2 Exploration C What is the pattern of earthquake distribution worldwide. 1. Obtain a world map with latitude and longitude. 2. Using the information in the data table below, plot the location of each earthquake. Earthquake data around the world Earthquake Longitude (degrees) Latitude (degrees) W 40 N E 5 S 3 77 W 4 S 4 88 E 23 N E 14 S 6 34 E 7 N 7 74 W 44 N 8 70 W 30 S 9 10 E 45 N W 13 N E 23 N E 35 N E 35 N E 46 N E 28 N W 61 N W 47 S 3. Are earthquakes scattered randomly over the surface of the earth or are they concentrated in definite zones? 4. Are most earthquakes located near the edges or near the center of continents? 5. What features have we found also to be located along the edges of continents? Idea Questions Use complete sentences to answer the following questions. 1. What are the three types of stress or movement the crust experiences as plates and/or faults move and shift? Page 2

3 2. What did exploration B illustrate in regard to the earth s crust and the plate tectonics? 3. What is the relationship between the distribution of earthquakes and the tectonic plates? 4. Relate the location of earthquakes and the movement of tectonic plates and faults. Expansion A You learned earlier that Earth s crust is broken into sections called plates. Movement of these plates generates stress within rocks that must be released. When this release of stress is sudden and rocks break, an earthquake occurs. In this expansion, we will look at foci locations (depths) of earthquakes as well as the distance the earthquakes occur from coastlines. 1. Produce a graph using the data table below. Your teacher will help you get started. Earthquake Focus Depth (km) Distance of Epicenter from Coastline (km) A B East C East D East E East F East G East H West I East J East K East L East M East N East O East P West Page 3

4 Q East R West S East T East U West V West 2. What do you notice about the depth of the earthquakes that occur close to the coastline? 3. What do you notice about the depth of the earthquakes that occur far from the coastline? 4. Describe any observed relationship between the location of earthquake foci and the distance of the epicenter of the earthquake from the coastline. 5. If you were to encircle the points on the graph, what would be shown by the data points? 6. Based upon your answer to question five above, diagram the tectonic activity on your graph. Include and label both the oceanic plate and continental plate. Include arrows showing the direction of plate movement. 7. What is happening to each of the plates involved? Explain in detail. 8. Based upon this graphing activity, how have earthquakes been useful in the study of plate tectonics? Page 4

5 Expansion B If you ever played a drum, you know that the sound it makes depends on how hard you strike it. Like a drumbeat, an earthquake produces vibrations called waves. These waves carry energy as they travel outward through solid material. During an earthquake, seismic waves race out from the focus in all directions. Seismic waves are vibrations that travel through Earth carrying the energy released during an earthquake. The seismic waves move like the ripples or waves created when you drop a rock into still water. 1. What is the name of the point, inside the earth, where an earthquake occurs? 2. What is the name of the point, on the surface of the earth, where an earthquake occurs? Seismic waves carry the energy of an earthquake away from the focus, through the earth s interior, and across the surface. The energy of the seismic waves that reach the surface is greatest at the epicenter. The most violent shaking during an earthquake, however, may occur kilometers away from the epicenter. The types of rock and soil around the epicenter determine where and how much the ground shakes. There are three categories of seismic waves that we will look at: Primary waves, Secondary waves, and L (surface) waves. An earthquake sends out two types of waves from its focus: P waves and S waves. When these waves reach Earth s surface at the epicenter, L waves develop. 3. Stretch a spring toy across the floor while a classmate holds the other end. Do not overstretch the toy. 4. Gather together about 4 coils of the spring toy and release them. 5. What direction do the coils move? Which type of earthquake wave acts in this fashion? 6. Once the spring has stopped moving, jerk one end of the toy from side to side once. Make sure you have a secure grip. 7. What direction do the coils move? Which type of earthquake wave acts in this fashion? Page 5

6 Expansion C Not only do seismic waves propagate differently, their speeds are different as well. This exploration will shed some light on this fundamental difference. 1. Two students will be chosen as volunteers. 2. One student will represent a P wave and the other an S wave. 3. P wave and S wave students will be positioned at a starting point. 4. A sheet of paper representing a seismograph will be placed on a wall. 5. When the teacher says Earthquake, the P and S waves should starting walking toward the seismograph. 6. P wave student should walk by taking long strides. 7. S wave student should walk by taking very short steps. 8. Stop after the teacher tells you to stop. 9. Which wave travels faster and is closer to the seismograph? 10. Allow the waves to continue walking until each reaches the seismograph station. 11. Draw below the seismograph reading that the seismograph would show based upon the demonstration used above? 12. What does the drawing show based upon the primary and secondary waves? 13. Repeat steps using six students as waves, three as P waves and three as S waves. 14. Two other pieces of paper representing seismographs should be placed at other locations/walls in the room. 15. When the teacher gives the signal, the students should walk in the correct way toward their assigned seismograph. 16. When each primary wave arrives at a seismograph, each respective secondary wave should stop. 17. Are all three distances the same between the P and S waves? 18. How do they vary? 19. Draw below the seismograph reading that seismograph A would show based upon the demonstration used above? 20. Draw below the seismograph reading that seismograph B would show based upon the demonstration used above? Page 6

7 21. Draw below the seismograph reading that seismograph C would show based upon the demonstration used above? 22. What is the relationship that is shown between the difference in arrival time of the primary and secondary wave and the distance the seismograph is from the epicenter of the earthquake? Remember that another difference between the waves is that P waves can travel through both solids and liquids. S waves can only travel through solids. They are unable to travel through liquids. We saw this in our previous learning cycle on Earth s Interior. Expansion D We are now going to take what you have learned about earthquakes and primary and surface waves to determine how scientists determine the actual location of an earthquake s epicenter. Procedure: 1. Take a sheet of unlined paper. Folding along the dashed lines as in figure a, find and mark the center of your paper. 2. Mark Stations A, B, and C on the paper. Start by marking a point 2.5 cm above the center point on your paper. This is station A. Draw in B and C using the figure one for help. Figure 1 Seismograph Locations 3. Scientists know how fast P-waves and S-waves travel. They can calculate the distance to the epicenter of an earthquake by measuring the difference in arrival time of P- and S-waves at their stations. The difference of the arrival time of the waves is shown in data table one. Page 7

8 Data Table One Earthquake Wave Data Distance to Epicenter (km) Difference in Arrival Time of P and S Waves (sec) Convert each distance to cm, so the data can be used on your map. Use the scale 1 cm = 100 km. This data will be the radius of each circle in step An earthquake has occurred on the western coast of the United States. Three seismographs (A, B, and C) located in this area of the country receive earthquake wave data. The data is found below in data table two. Data Table Two Seismograph Data Seismograph Difference in Arrival Time of P and S waves (sec) A 120 B 80 C Determine the distance each seismograph station is from the epicenter using data table one and two. Remember to use the distance in centimeters we converted to. 7. On your map, draw a circle around Station A, as illustrated figure two below. The radius of the circle will be determined by the distance you found in step six. Figure Two 8. Repeat step seven for the two other stations. Page 8

9 9. The location of the epicenter of the earthquake is the point where all three circles intersect. Approximately where did the earthquake occur? 10. Why are three seismograph stations necessary to locate an epicenter? 11. How is the radius of the circles related to the P- and S- waves? Expansion E When an earthquake jolts the ocean floor, plate movement causes the ocean floor to rise slightly and push water out of its way. If the earthquake is strong enough, the water displaced by the quake forms large waves, called tsunamis. When a large enough earthquake occurs for a tsunami to form, a warning is given to residents near coastal areas. The Tsunami Warning System is a warning system that alerts people who live near the Pacific Ocean. When geologists detect an earthquake on the ocean floor, they notify coastal areas. The following expansion will give you an idea how this situation might arise. An earthquake in the Gulf of Alaska occurs 3,600 kilometers from Hawaii. The quake s seismic waves travel about 560 kilometers per minute. The quake triggers a tsunami that travels at 640 kilometers per hour. The seismic waves arrive in Hawaii within minutes and are recorded on seismographs. The seismic waves arrival warns of the dangerous tsunami that may follow. About how much advance warning will Hawaii have that a tsunami is on the way? To figure this out, answer the questions below. Make sure you show your work on all calculations. 1. First calculate how much time it takes the seismic waves to arrive in Hawaii. 2. Second, calculate how much time it takes the tsunami to arrive. 3. Subtract the two numbers and you have the time. 4. How much advance warning will they have in Hawaii? 5. What should people in Hawaii do during that time to prepare for the tsunami? 6. Your teacher will now show you some visuals of major tsunamis that have been observed and recorded over time. Below, list at least three observations concerning what was presented. Page 9

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