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Table-top earthquakes; a demonstration of seismology for teachers and students that can be used to augment lessons in earth science, physics, math, social studies, geography

Open-File Report 98-767

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Abstract

The apparatus consists of a heavy object that is dragged steadily with an elastic cord. Although pulled with a constant velocity, the heavy object repeatedly slides and then stops. A small vibration sensor, attached to a computer display, graphically monitors this intermittent motion. 2 This intermittent sliding motion mimics the intermittent fault slippage that characterizes the earthquake fault zones. In tectonically active regions, the Earth's outer brittle shell, which is about 50 km thick, is slowly deformed elastically along active faults. As the deformation increases, stress also increases, until fault slippage releases the stored elastic energy. This process is called elastic rebound. Detailed instructions are given for assembly and construction of this demonstration. Included are suggested sources for the vibration sensor (geophone) and the computer interface. Exclusive of the personal computer, the total cost is between $125 and $150. I gave a talk at the Geological Society of America's Cordilleran Section Centennial meeting on June 2, 1999. The slides show how this table-top demonstration can be used to help meet many of the K-12 teaching goals described in Benchmarks for Science Literacy (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1993).

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Table-top earthquakes; a demonstration of seismology for teachers and students that can be used to augment lessons in earth science, physics, math, social studies, geography
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
98-767
Year Published:
1998
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Description:
14 p.