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Earthquakes 101
Image: iStockphoto.com/Vertigo3d

Earthquakes 101

The most terrifying feeling may be when the ground shakes, rattles, and rolls. If you've never experienced this, consider yourself lucky. Earthquakes take place when suddenly released energy below the surface creates seismic waves.

Hundreds of tremors go unnoticed daily, but the strongest cause massive and widespread devastation.

National Geographic
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How Fast Do Seismic Waves Travel?

How Fast Do Seismic Waves Travel?

Try this hands-on activity to find out how fast seismic waves travel, using data already collected by the Northern California Earthquake Data Center. More...

Activity
Science Buddies
Bridge to Classroom: Engineering for Earthquakes

Bridge to Classroom: Engineering for Earthquakes

Can you design a bridge able to survive an earthquake 10 times stronger than the one that broke California's Bay Bridge? This site gives you what you'll need (including great info about quakes). More...

Interactive
Eduweb
2011 Japan Earthquake Map and  Video Reports

2011 Japan Earthquake Map and Video Reports

The biggest earthquake on record — magnitude 9.0 — struck Fukushima, Japan on March 11, 2012. Explore its immense damage and destruction, including a huge tsunami that swept away thousands and reached the U.S. West Coast. More...

Article
BBC
Distant Quake Changes Geyser Eruptions

Distant Quake Changes Geyser Eruptions

A volcanic hot spot, Yellowstone National Park always bubbles and steams, spouts and spews. Find out the effects of an Alaskan earthquake on some of the park’s geysers. More...

Article
Science News for Students
Seismic Waves: P and S waves

Seismic Waves: P and S waves

Earthquake vibrations come in two flavors: P-waves and S-waves. Find out how they travel through the Earth in different ways and at different speeds. More...

Article
BBC
Sound, Ultrasound, and Seismic Waves

Sound, Ultrasound, and Seismic Waves

How do sound waves form, how do they differ from one another, and how can they be put to use? This site sums up sound. More...

Article
BBC
The Awesome App Race

The Awesome App Race

Want to find out more about earthquakes? There's an app for that! The SciGirls set out to create a smartphone app to highlight the history and geoscience of the 1989 San Francisco Earthquake. More...

Video
SciGirls/PBS
The Ring of Fire

The Ring of Fire

Take a video tour of this zone in the Pacific Ocean where 80 percent of the world's largest earthquakes strike along with four out of five tsunamis. More...

Video
Discovery
Animation of Energy Released During Earthquakes Since 1960

Animation of Energy Released During Earthquakes Since 1960

To put into perspective the magnitude of energy that earthquakes release, compare temblors that have taken place since 1960. More...

Video
The American Ceramic Society
Deadly Java Quake Highlights Ring of Fire Dangers

Deadly Java Quake Highlights Ring of Fire Dangers

Earthquakes devastate lives and property. A string of earthquakes and volcanic activity in Indonesia has increased research into this part of the Pacific's Ring of Fire. More...

Article
National Geographic
How Was the Richter Scale Developed?

How Was the Richter Scale Developed?

Charles Richter modeled his scale for measuring the strength of earthquakes after the stellar magnitude scale used by astronomers. Take an in-depth look at this twofold scale. More...

Article
Scientific American
Motion Pictured: How an Earthquake Warps a Landscape

Motion Pictured: How an Earthquake Warps a Landscape

Geologists using LiDAR, or "light detection and ranging laser altimetry," investigate how an earthquake can change a landscape. Find out what other features this technology reveals. More...

Article
Scientific American
People & Events: The San Francisco Earthquake

People & Events: The San Francisco Earthquake

Two strong tremors shook San Francisco awake on April 18, 1906, toppling structures, shattering glass, and causing fires. Blame it on the sudden grinding of two tectonic plates along the San Andreas Fault. More...

Article
American Experience/PBS
Puerto Rico Trench: Implications for Plate Tectonics

Puerto Rico Trench: Implications for Plate Tectonics

The deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean, the Puerto Rico Trench sits at the boundary of two tectonic plates sliding past each other. Investigate more about its high seismicity and large earthquakes. More...

Article
NOAA
Savage Earth Animation: Earthquake!

Savage Earth Animation: Earthquake!

Some effects of earthquakes are wide and long-reaching. Watch how two kinds of seismic waves from a Bolivian quake traveled all around the Earth. More...

Interactive
PBS
Students Earn $30K Designing Ways to Survive Natural Disasters

Students Earn $30K Designing Ways to Survive Natural Disasters

What happens if a natural disaster wipes out all communication in your area? Meet a team of middle schoolers who created a way to signal disaster relief spots. More...

Article
EdTech
The Severity of an Earthquake

The Severity of an Earthquake

Mercalli vs. Richter doesn’t refer to a fight. Two types of scales, they measure the severity of a quake. Find out which measures magnitude and which determines intensity. More...

Game
U.S. Geological Survey
What Is Liquefaction?

What Is Liquefaction?

A quake can shake soil into a liquid, which means it can’t support any weight. Watch what happened, thanks to liquefaction, during tremors in New Zealand. More...

Video
Geology.com
Earth and Space: Earthquakes

Earth and Space: Earthquakes

Living in the San Francisco Bay area, two girls share their own earthquake experiences. Follow them as they investigate what takes place during such earthshaking events. More...

Video
DragonflyTV/PBS
Earthquakes: Breaking New Ground

Earthquakes: Breaking New Ground

Seismologists in California are examining how regular small earthquakes may foreshadow big ones. Discover how their findings could provide lifesaving warnings. More...

Video
QUEST
Earthquakes: Expert Q&A

Earthquakes: Expert Q&A

Research seismologist Frank Vernon is an expert on the physics of earthquake sources. See if he answers any of your questions about the effects of quakes and temblors all around the planet. More...

Profile
NOVA/PBS
Faultline: Active Zone Activities

Faultline: Active Zone Activities

The Earth moves in many ways, including liquefaction. Find out how this works, taste the meaning of subduction, and slink your way to understanding seismicity. More...

Activity
Exploratorium
Geothermal Power Facility Induces Earthquakes, Study Finds

Geothermal Power Facility Induces Earthquakes, Study Finds

Could pumping water into and out of the ground lead to earthquakes? Scientists believe this is happening in Southern California. More...

Article
University of California, Santa Cruz
Simulated Shake-Up Reveals Some Answers

Simulated Shake-Up Reveals Some Answers

Scientists expect a huge earthquake to hit Southern California. To prepare for it, they have created the largest-ever computer simulation of such a quake. More...

Interactive
San Diego State University

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