# Name: Lab: Earthquake Epicenters Adapted from Exploration in Earth Science, The Physical Setting, United Publishing Company, Inc

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1 Name: Lab: Earthquake Epicenters Adapted from Exploration in Earth Science, The Physical Setting, United Publishing Company, Inc INTRODUCTION: Earthquakes occur when there is movement along a fault. The friction between the rock masses rubbing against one another generates shock waves which travel through Earth. These shock waves, called seismic waves, are created by the earthquake and are radiated in every direction from the focus, the point with Earth where the actual movement takes place. An earthquake occurs, on average, every 30 seconds, day after day. Most of these are so weak they would go unnoticed without the use of sensitive modern instruments called seismographs. While seismologists use many seismograph stations, in this lab you will use seismograms from three distant stations to locate the epicenter, the point on the Earth s surface directly above the focus of the earthquake. OBJECTIVE: You will learn to interpret a seismogram and using differences in seismic waves, locate the epicenter of an earthquake. VOCABULARY: Fault: Epicenter: Focus: P-wave: S-wave: Seismograph: PROCEDURE A: The diagram below illustrates the method of using the difference in arrival times of P and S waves to determine the distance to the epicenter. Using the three seismograms provided, and the Earthquake P-wave and S-wave Time Travel graph in your Earth Science Reference Tables, calculate the following for each city and record on your Report Sheet: 1. The arrival Times for P and S waves 2. The difference in arrival times between P and S waves. 3. The distance (in km) of the epicenter to each city. 4. The length of time it took for the P-wave to travel from the epicenter to each city. 5. Since you know when the P-wave arrived at a city and how long it had to travel, calculate the time at which the P-wave started (Origin Time).

2 PROCEDURE B: 1. To locate the epicenter on the map, for each city construct a circle whose radius is equal to the distance from the city to the epicenter. Use the scale of distance of your map to set the compass at the correct radius. 2. Mark and label the epicenter on the map where all three circles intersect. SEISMOGRAMS REPORT SHEET

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4 Discussion Questions: 1. How do P-and S-wave differ? 2. What was the approximate location of the epicenter of this earthquake? 3. Why is three the minimum number of stations necessary to locate an epicenter? 4. Why does the time between the arrival of the P-wave and the S-wave become greater and greater as you get farther away from the epicenter? Conclusion: Describe, step by step, how the epicenter of an earthquake can be located (at least 5 steps!) Reading Comprehension Read the portion of the article on measuring earthquakes below and answer the following questions based on the reading. Use complete sentences. How Are Earthquake Magnitudes Measured? The Richter Scale The magnitude of most earthquakes is measured on the Richter scale, invented by Charles F. Richter in The Richter magnitude is calculated from the amplitude of the largest seismic wave recorded for the earthquake, no matter what type of wave was the strongest. The Richter magnitudes are based on a logarithmic scale (base 10). What this means is that for each whole number you go up on the Richter scale, the amplitude of the ground motion recorded by a seismograph goes up ten times. Using this scale, a magnitude 5 earthquake would result in ten times the level of ground shaking as a magnitude 4 earthquake (and 32 times as much energy would be released). To give you an idea how these numbers can add up, think of it in terms of the energy released by explosives: a magnitude 1 seismic wave releases as much energy as blowing up 6 ounces of TNT. A magnitude 8 earthquake releases as much energy as detonating 6 million tons of TNT. Pretty impressive, huh? Fortunately, most of the earthquakes that occur each year are magnitude 2.5 or less, too small to be felt by most people. The Richter magnitude scale can be used to describe earthquakes so small that they are expressed in negative numbers. The scale also has no upper limit, so it can describe earthquakes of unimaginable and (so far) unexperienced intensity, such as magnitude 10.0 and beyond.

5 Although Richter originally proposed this way of measuring an earthquake's "size," he only used a certain type of seismograph and measured shallow earthquakes in Southern California. Scientists have now made other "magnitude" scales, all calibrated to Richter's original method, to use a variety of seismographs and measure the depths of earthquakes of all sizes. Here's a table describing the magnitudes of earthquakes, their effects, and the estimated number of those earthquakes that occur each year: Earthquake Magnitude Scale Magnitude Earthquake Effects Estimated Number Each Year 2.5 or less Usually not felt, but can be recorded by seismograph. 900, to 5.4 Often felt, but only causes minor damage. 30, to 6.0 Slight damage to buildings and other structures to 6.9 May cause a lot of damage in very populated areas to 7.9 Major earthquake. Serious damage or greater Great earthquake. Can totally destroy communities near the epicenter. One every 5 to 10 years Earthquake Magnitude Classes Earthquakes are also classified in categories ranging from minor to great, depending on their magnitude. Class Magnitude Great 8 or more Major Strong Moderate Light Minor The Mercalli Scale Another way to measure the strength of an earthquake is to use the Mercalli scale. Invented by Giuseppe Mercalli in 1902, this scale uses the observations of the people who experienced the earthquake to estimate its intensity. Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale Mercalli Equivalent Richter Witness Observations Intensity Magnitude I 1.0 to 2.0 Felt by very few people; barely noticeable. II 2.0 to 3.0 Felt by a few people, especially on upper floors. III 3.0 to 4.0 Noticeable indoors, especially on upperfloors, but may not be recognized as an earthquake. IV 4.0 Felt by many indoors, few outdoors. May feel like heavy truck passing by. V 4.0 to 5.0 Felt by almost everyone, some people awakened. Small objects moved. trees and poles may shake. VI 5.0 to 6.0 Felt by everyone. Difficult to stand. Some heavy furniture moved, some plaster falls. Chimneys may be slightly damaged. VII 6.0 Slight to moderate damage in well built, ordinary structures. Considerable damage to poorly built structures. Some walls may fall. VIII 6.0 to 7.0 Little damage in specially built structures. Considerable damage to ordinary buildings, severe damage to poorly built structures. Some walls collapse. IX 7.0 Considerable damage to specially built structures, buildings shifted off foundations. Ground cracked noticeably. Wholesale destruction. Landslides. X 7.0 to 8.0 Most masonry and frame structures and their foundations destroyed. Ground badly cracked. Landslides. Wholesale destruction. XI 8.0 Total damage. Few, if any, structures standing. Bridges destroyed. Wide cracks in ground. Waves seen on ground. XII 8.0 or greater Total damage. Waves seen on ground. Objects thrown up into air.

6 The Mercalli scale isn't considered as scientific as the Richter scale, though. Some witnesses of the earthquake might exaggerate just how bad things were during the earthquake and you may not find two witnesses who agree on what happened; everybody will say something different. The amount of damage caused by the earthquake may not accurately record how strong it was either. Some things that affect the amount of damage that occurs are: the building designs, the distance from the epicenter, and the type of surface material (rock or dirt) the buildings rest on. Different building designs hold up differently in an earthquake and the further you are from the earthquake, the less damage you'll usually see. Whether a building is built on solid rock or sand makes a big difference in how much damage it takes. Solid rock usually shakes less than sand, so a building built on top of solid rock shouldn't be as damaged as it might if it was sitting on a sandy lot. 1. Explain what a logarithmic scale means. 2. New York State s largest earthquake occurred in 1944 and measured 5.8 on the Richter scale. About how many earthquakes a year occur that are of a similar size, and what magnitude class would they belong to? 3. Why is the Mercalli Intensity scale a better scale for estimating the strength of earthquakes such as the Great San Francisco Earthquake in 1906? 4. Why might people in two different locations report different intensities/damage from the same earthquake? 5. If you were about to buy a house in Southern California (near the San Andreas Fault), what would be one thing you would want to know to make sure the house is prepared for an earthquake or is earthquake ready?

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