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Waves Through Earth
The Waves Through the Earth JAVA activity allows students to vary the seismic P and S wave velocity through each of 4 concentric regions of Earth. Students match fabricated data for travel times versus angular distance around Earth's surface from the source to detector. Tables are available for P and S rays superimposed on the 4-region model. Tables of data for P and S wave velocities, graphs of fabricated data, models for P and S waves and help and instructions are also available. Students can explore the difference in P and S wave velocity, P wave and S wave shadows, refraction, the idea that S wave velocity must be zero for outer core to match observations and how to adjust model parameters to match observations. This activity takes roughly an hour to complete and it is a perfect activity for introductory geoscience courses with Solid Earth content. Students with a wide range of mathematical abilities can also participate in this activity. This site includes teaching notes and tips, teaching materials, assessment ideas and additional resources regarding waves through the earth. This activity is part of the Starting Point Collection:
Intended for grade levels:
  • High (9-12)
  • College (13-14)
  • College (15-16)
Type of resource:
  • For the classroom:
    • Computer activity
    • Guide for instructor
    • Module / Unit
  • Educational theory and practice
  • Geological Sciences:
    • Geophysics
  • Physics
Technical requirements:
Cost / Copyright:
No cost
The material on this site is offered under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license as described here:
DLESE Catalog ID: SERC-STARTINGPOINT-000-000-000-056
Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Contributor: Robert M. Mackay
Clark College