How are Earthquakes located?

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Resource Type:Curricula and Instruction; Curriculum Materials
Grade Level:
9 10 11 12
Language:English; Spanish
Organization:Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS)
Summary:We can locate earthquakes using a simple fact: an earthquake creates different seismic waves (P waves, S waves, etc.) The different waves each travel at different speeds and therefore arrive at a seismic station at different times. P waves travel the fastest, so they arrive first. S waves, which travel at about half the speed of P waves, arrive later. A seismic station close to the earthquake records P waves and S waves in quick succession. With increasing distance from the earthquake the time difference between the arrival of the P waves and the arrival of the S waves increases. This basic approach to locating quakes is illustrated using an example of an earthquake near Mexico.
Earth Science Big Ideas:Big Idea 1; Big Idea 3; Big Idea 8
NGSS Discplinary Core Ideas:ESS3.B
NGSS Performance Expectations:HS-ESS3-1
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts:Cause and effect: Mechanism and explanation
Subjects: 9-12; earthquake; factsheet; faq; geology; high school; seismology
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