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What is an Earthquake?: Recurrence Interval
Since large fault ruptures require the build-up of a great deal of stress, many years pass between repeated surface ruptures on a single fault. The average time between such ruptures, known as the recurrence interval of that fault, is a useful measurement for assessing both the slip rate of the fault and the risk the fault presents. This activity contains three exercises. In the first, students study a hypothetical fault to determine slip rate, likely recurrence interval, and determine the degree of hazard presented to residents presently living near the fault. In the second, students examine data from the San Andreas Fault, determine recurrence interval, and graph the data to reveal patterns. In the third exercise, students examine the relationship between fault length and recurrence interval by analyzing data from two faults of different lengths. Links to a graphing template and an example graph are provided.
Intended for grade levels:
  • Middle (6-8)
  • High (9-12)
  • College (13-14)
Type of resource:
  • For the classroom:
    • Classroom activity
  • Geological Sciences:
    • Geology
    • Structural geology
  • Natural hazards
Technical requirements:
No specific technical requirements, just a browser required
Cost / Copyright:
No cost
Copyright and other restrictions information are unknown.
DLESE Catalog ID: DLESE-000-000-008-831
Related resources:
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Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Publisher: Southern California Earthquake Center