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Wave Speed

Discusses how wave speed is calculated and the effect of different materials on wave speed.

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Seismic Shakeup

Seismic Shakeup

Credit: Colin Crowley
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/newbeatphoto/4293702547/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

You may have seen news reports about the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. This photo shows some of the damage caused by the earthquake. Do you know why earthquakes are so destructive?

Why It Matters

  • Several million earthquakes occur throughout the world each year. Of these, generally fewer than 200 are very strong earthquakes that cause a great deal of death and destruction. Nonetheless, the toll that earthquakes take on human lives and property is substantial, year after year.
  • Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/5518346220/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    This is a seismic map of the magnitude 8.9 earthquake that struck Japan in March of 2011 [Figure2]

  • Why do earthquakes cause death and damage property? Seismic waves are the answer. They are mechanical waves that carry the energy of an earthquake through the ground. You can see how two types of seismic waves travel by watching this creative video that uses students to model the waves:


Can You Apply It?

Learn more about seismic waves at the links below. Then answer the questions that follow.

  1. What are the two main types of seismic waves? How do they differ?
  2. Identify and contrast the two types of body waves.
  3. Identify and contrast the two types of surface waves.
  4. Which types of seismic waves are modeled in the video above? How does the model represent different states of matter?
  5. What is the model used to demonstrate?
  6. Which type of earthquake waves are responsible for most of the damage caused by an earthquake? Why?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Colin Crowley; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/newbeatphoto/4293702547/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/5518346220/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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