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Measuring Earthquakes
In this activity, students work through two exercises that will demonstrate the construction of intensity maps, familiarize them with the basic Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale, and give them the opportunity to build their own maps online for the purpose of locating the epicenter of an earthquake. In the first exercise, the students will construct an isoseismal map using a background map of southern California which has pre-plotted intensity values taken from the magnitude 5.6 Palm Springs earthquake of July, 1989. In the second exercise, they will plot their own intensity values, construct an isoseismal map using an online application, and attempt to locate the epicenter of the earthquake. A materials list, instructions, and links to additional information are supplied.
Intended for grade levels:
  • Middle (6-8)
  • High (9-12)
  • College (13-14)
Type of resource:
  • For the classroom:
    • Classroom activity
    • Computer activity
  • Geographical Sciences:
    • Physical geography
  • Geological Sciences:
    • Geology
    • Geophysics
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-000-000-008-893
Related resources:
This resource is part of 'SCEC Education Module: Investigating Earthquakes through Regional Seismicity'
This resource references
This resource references
This resource requires 'Online Intensity Maps Activity'
Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Publisher: Southern California Earthquake Center