Terms to learn:

elastic rebound theory       focus                  epicenter                                        

P-waves                                       S-waves            Love waves         Rayleigh waves

seismograph                             intensity           magnitude          Wadati-Benioff zone

liquefaction                               tsunami


Topic outline:

  1. Earthquake
    1. Elastic Rebound Theory (early 1900s)
  2. Seismic waves
    1. Body waves
    2. Surface waves 
  3. Earthquake intensity and magnitude
    1. Intensity
      1. Modified Mercalli Scale
    2. Magnitude
      1. Richter scale
      2. Moment magnitude
  4. Earthquake distribution
    1. Benioff-Wadati zone
  5. Effects of earthquakes


Interesting places to visit:

Good animations:


Recent earthquakes in So Cal:


USGS National Earthquake Information Center:


Lots of cool info for kids and adults, plus virtual field trips:


When you are finished with this topic, you should be able to answer these questions:

1.      What is elastic rebound theory?

2.      What is the difference between intensity and magnitude?

3.      How does plate tectonics affect the distribution of earthquakes?

4.      What are the different earthquake waves and how do they move?

5.      What is liquefaction?

6.      How are tsunami formed?

7.      What types of seismic waves are generated by earthquakes?