The Topic:

Easier - An earthquake makes the ground move or shake. These natural events can cause massive damage and destruction. The study of earthquakes is called seismology.
Harder - An earthquake is caused by sudden, violent shifting of massive rocks called plates under the earth's surface. This movement of the plates releases stress that accumulates along geologic faults. A fault is a deep crack that marks the boundary between two of these plates. Earthquake belts occur along faults around the world. Many run along coastal areas. The San Andreas fault in central California is well-known for causing severe earthquakes.
The epicenter is the point on the surface where the earthquake is the strongest. The Richter scale is used to measure the amount of energy released by the earthquake. The severity of an earthquake runs from 0 to 9 on this scale. Small tremors occur constantly, but every few months a major earthquake occurs somewhere in the world. Scientists are researching ways to predict earthquakes, but their predictions are not always accurate.
National Earthquake Information Center (Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Golden, Colorado)
NEIS has three main missions: to determine as rapidly and as accurately as possible the location and size of all destructive earthquakes that occur worldwide, collect and provide to scientists and the public an extensive seismic database that serves as a solid foundation for scientific research, and pursue an active research program to improve the ability to locate and understand earthquakes. Use General Earthquake information for background information.
Other USGS Earthquake Sites:
2) Earthquake Information: Reducing Hazards
3) Earthquakes by Kaye M. Shedlock & Louis C. Pakiser
4) Earthquakes and Plate Tectonics
5) Response to an Urban Earthquake
6) Quick Access to Earthquake Info from All The Networks
7) The San Andreas Fault by Sandra S. Schulz and Robert E. Wallace
8) Severity of an Earthquake
The Restless Planet: Earthquakes
Learn about earthquakes including basic information, earthquake prediction, and engineering buildings for earthquakes. Be sure to check out the animations and QuickTime movies.
Other Basic Earthquake Information Sites:
2) About Earthquakes (Univ. of Nevada - Reno)
Not To Be Missed Section:
3) Plate Tectonics, the Cause of Earthquakes
4) Tech: Earthquakes
5) Terrible Power of Earthquakes
Are You Ready for an Earthquake? at American Red Cross
Here's what you can do to prepare for such an emergency.
For More Preparedness Information, See These Websites:
2) Earthquake Hazards and Preparedness
3) Earthquake Home Preparedness Guide
4) Fact Sheet: Earthquakes from Federal Emergency Management Agency
5) Get Ready
6) On Shaky Ground: Living with Earthquakes on the North Coast (Humboldt University)
7) Putting Down Roots in EarthQuake Country
Life Along the Faultline from The Exploratorium.
Here you can investigate life along the fault lines of California, the science of earthquakes, building safe structures, and remember the infamous Loma Prieta and 1906 San Francisco quakes.
After visiting several of the websites, complete one or more of these activities:
Write a Special Edition. Write a fictional newspaper article or script for a TV report about an earthquake in your town. What is the magnitude of the earthquake? Include a map showing the epicenter.
Be an Earthquake Predictor. Create a map of North America or the world. Find out whether you're likely to have an earthquake in your area. Identify those areas where you think there are likely to be earthquakes. Compare your map with others. Defend your choices. Use the Earthquakes Everywhere, St. Louis Center, MidAmerican Earthquakes, Nevada, Largest Earthquakes, and Putting Down Roots for ideas about earthquakes in the US. Explore the java page showing the earthquakes in the world. Consider using ArcData for your map making and exploration.
Take a Virtual Tour. Take a virtual tour of one of the following sites: Hayward fault, Calaveras fault, and Kentucky River fault. Create a virtual tour of another area.
Make a Prediction. Learn about Predicting Earthquakes. Read the article, Major Quake Likely, to learn about the probability of another earthquake in San Francisco. When do you think the next earthquake will occur? Defend your answer. Hold a debate.
Be a Listener. Listen to the sound of earthquakes. Compare these sounds to other sounds in nature.
Make a Myth Game. Read the Common Earthquake Myths page. Create a myth game to help people learn the facts about earthquakes. Or, create a myth poster to help people overcome common myths about earthquakes.
Make a Chart. Keep a chart of recent earthquake activity using Today's Earthquake Activity Around the World, Recent Earthquakes, Seismic Monitor, or Record of the Day
Write about an Earthquake Scientist. Read about measuring earthquakes and the severity of earthquakes. Learn about Charles Richter. Why was his contribution so important? Write a paragraph about Richter and his invention.
Be a Model Maker. Learn Why the Earth Shakes. Create a model showing how an earthquake works. Use How EarthQuakes Occur for ideas.
Build a Safer Building. During the past century many advances have been made in architecture to make buildings more safe. In high earthquake areas, laws require special building construction. Compare the structure of a building in 1900 to one built in 2000. How has it changed? Show the comparison on a poster. Or, create your own design for a safer building. Use the Building for the Big One, Anatomy of a Safe House, Earthquakes and Housing, and Building Safer Structures, site for ideas.
Build a San Francisco Scrapbook. Read the book Dragonwings by Laurence Yep. It is set during the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Learn about the San Francisco earthquake at the Museum of San Francisco, San Francisco History. Create a scrapbook of information, photos, timelines, charts, and other resources that help tell the story of the earthquake.
Explore a Historical Earthquake. Read Earthquakes in History. Then read about a historical earthquake at Earthquake Photographs or Central US Earthquake History. Write a story set on the day of one of these earthquakes. Include facts from the website.
Prepare for Earthquakes. Read Earthquake Terror by Peg Kehret or One Boy's Experience. Are you prepared for an earthquake? What do you need to do to be prepared? Make a list of items to have available all the time for an emergency. Create a brochure on earthquake preparation. Use Hazards and Preparedness, Home Safe Home, Earthquake Home Preparedness Guide, Information on Safety, or Earthquake Safety for ideas.
Try EarthQuake Activities. Try a quiz and crossword puzzle at the KidZone and a quiz at Understanding Earthquakes.
Hold an EarthQuake Science Fair. Explore the Seismology at the Science Fair website. Look at the science projects and design your own.
Create a Seismogram. Go to Make Your Own Seismogram! or Build Your Own Seismograph and fill out the form specifying a seismogram from the station and channel of your choice. Read the instructions carefully. Limit your request to a 24 hour period.
Keep an Earthquake Record. Learn about Earthquakes and Plate Tectonics. Follow the directions found at Today's Earthquake Activity Around the World (Athena) to print out a map and record the location of earthquakes for an extended period of time. Then compare your earthquake locations with the boundaries of the major tectonic plates of the Earth.
Try the Virtual Earthquake. Follow the directions at the Virtual Earthquake website to do an earthquake simulation.
Complete a QuakeQuest. Adapt or follow the instructions found at one of these earthquake WebQuests.
1) Are You Ready for the "Big One"? (Grades 6-9)
2) Earthquake
3) Earthquake (Grade 6)
4) Earthquakes! by Michael J. Burrus
5) Earthquakes in Illinois? (Grades 5-8)
6) Earthquakes Web Quest by Marjean Swann
7) Epicenter, That Rockin' Town by Tim Harazin (Grades 4-6)
8) Kobe Earthquake
9) Measuring Earthquakes by Caro, Denise and Vero
10) Mexico City Earthquake
11) Seismic Watch by Jim Stalker (Earthquakes and Volcanoes)
Websites By Kids For Kids
Crispy Crust (1997 Internet Challenge)
Explore the anatomy of the planet, the theory of plate tectonics, and continental drift.
Duvall Earthquake Reports at Athena
Here are reports of the Duvall Earthquake of May 2, 1996, submitted by students in classrooms.
Explore a project created by children at Ward School.
Earthquakes: A Child's View
An online alphabet book on earthquakes.
EarthQuake: A Catastrophe (2000 Internet Challenge)
This site provides comprehensive and technical information on earthquakes, like why and how do they occur, how are they measured and what are their various consequences.
Earthquakes - The Terror From Below (1998 Internet Challenge)
Know how to prepare for an earthquake in order to prevent damage and injuries. Learn what you need to create a personal survival kit. Discover how buildings can be constructed to be more earthquake-resistant. The means of earthquake detection are explained (seismograph, Richter scale), and predictive strategies are discussed.
Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and More (1999 ThinkQuest Junior Project)
This site examines earthquakes, volcanos, faults, stress, and more.
Forces of Mother Nature (1998 ThinkQuest Internet Challenge)
Earthquakes! Find out the causes of earthquakes, how they are detected, and their often devastating effects.
Great Divide-A Study of Continental Drift (1996 ThinkQuest Internet Challenge)
Here you'll find a history of the continental drift, the scientists involved, and an extensive section on earthquakes: where and why they occur, photographs of recent earthquake disasters, and links to other related sites.
Ground Beneath (1999 Internet Challenge)
This site is about plate tectonics and the resultant landforms of tectonic processes.
Movers and Shakers (1998 Internet Challenge)
The world under our feet has been slowly moving and changing for millions of years. This site tells about the theory of plate tectonics. Earthquakes and volcanoes are both caused by the movement of large portions of the earth's crust.
Plate Tectonics: The Worst Natural Disasters! (2000 ThinkQuest Junior Project)
Here you can learn about earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes.
Plate Tectonics Online (1998 Internet Challenge)
Learn of the theory of how the continents are formed. This site explains the Earth's layers, the development of the plate tectonic theory, and the theories of continental drift and sea floor spreading.
Puzzles Of The Earth (1998 Internet Challenge)
This project site focusses on plate tectonics, demonstrates earthquakes of different magnitudes on the Richter scale, and includes a puzzle on volcanoes, tsunamis, and land formation.
Thunder Beneath the Crust (1999 Internet Challenge)
This site has information, graphs, and photos about earthquakes plus links to other resource websites.
Lots More Sites
Ask-An-Earth-Scientist © : Earthquakes and Seismology (Univ. of Hawaii)
This ask-an-expert site can be used following these guidelines. They do no answer overly general questions or questions by students trying to avoid normal studying or library research (i.e., they will not do your homework or provide "last-minute" information for class exams). Each request is answered by a real live person; therefore, it may take a few weeks to get a reply.
Earthquake Center at the Dept. of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, St. Louis University
This location has central U.S. earthquake history and current activity (New Madrid Earthquakes).
This site provides background information about earthquakes. It also discusses basic terminology and earthquake history.
Each of the links at this site will enhance your knowledge of earthquakes ranging from seismic vocabulary to famous earthquakes from around the world.
Another Earthquake Links-Site:
2) Earthquake
Earthquakes and Maryland by James P. Reger
This site provides general background information about earthquakes, followed by the history of earthquakes in Maryland.
Earthquakes: The Rolling Earth
Explore basic information about earthquakes.
Measuring the Damage: Using the Richter and Mercali Scales
The Richter Scale measures the energy of an earthquake by determining the size of the greatest vibrations. The Mercali Scale measures an earthquake according to the observable results or effects the damage caused, the sensations described by people.
Understanding Earthquakes
This site has earthquake locations and accounts, explains how they occur, a history of seismology, an earthquake quiz, and links to other sites.
Virtual Earthquake (California State University)
Locate the epicenter of an earthquake to become a "Virtual Seismologist"! Careful measuring is involved here, therefore, this site is recommended for intermediate/senior students who crave a challenging project.
World-Wide Earthquake Locator: Global Earthquake Report (University of Edinburgh)
This site monitors earthquake activity around the world.
Websites for Teachers
AALL Internet Lesson: Earthquake!
Explore student activities and earthquake resources.
Amidst the Rubble of Ruined Cities
This lesson focuses on the devastation of earthquakes. Specifically the students develop and propose solutions to rebuild various elements of Colombia's infrastructure in the wake of the January 25, 1999 earthquake.
Big Trouble in Earthquake Country
Students use on-line earthquake hazard maps and other resources to assess hazards associated with hypothetical earthquakes of various magnitudes.
This lesson goes with the book DragonWing which is set during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
Earth Dynamics Lessons
Students visit earthquake websites and answer questions.
Try lessons related to the following topics: Building Your Own Seismograph, Can You Read a Quake?, Race of the Waves, Where Did It Hit?, Shadows from the Core, and Prediction or Prevention.
Earthquake Country
This lesson focuses on earthquakes and earthquake preparation.
Earthquakes at Newton's Apple
This teacher's guide provides background information on earthquakes and activity suggestions for building a shake tray to test models of buildings.
Earthquakes: Before and After
Learn about the physical changes caused by earthquakes.
Earthquakes of the World
In this lesson, students use real-world data to analyze earthquakes.
Eye on Earthquakes
Students work in groups to make a television report on earthquakes.
Faults, A Model of Three Faults (Grade 7-12) at the U.S. Geological Survey Lesson Plans
Students build a model and analyze real world data about three different faults to better understand how and why earthquakes happen.
GeoNet - Activities
Explore terminology related to earthquakes and learn about the Turkish earthquake.
Musical Plates
In this project, students use realtime earthquake and volcano data from the Internet to explore the relationship between earthquakes, volcanoes and plate tectonics.
Nyelabs Earthquakes
Try some earthquake experiments.
Plotting Earthquakes
Use real-world data and plot the location of earthquakes (high school level).
To the Teacher... Earthquake Lessons
Explore a series of lessons for teachers on the topic of earthquakes.
Richter scale
plate tectonics
seismic energy
Mercalli scale
tectonic plate
Kobe earthquake
convection current
New Madrid
Duvall, Washington earthquake
continental drift
Puget Sound earthquake
San Andreas
earth's crust
fold mountain
rift valley
block mountain
Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 1/99
Updated, 11/00