Earthquake Waves And Their Destructions

Sharione O. Mays Donald Morrill
6011 S. Rockwell Street
Chicago IL 60629
(312) 535-9288


1. Students will learn characteristics of primary waves and secondary waves.
2. Students will learn how to measure the magnitude of waves.
3. Students will learn how to find the epicenter of earthquakes.
4. Students will learn why waves are more destructive in some areas than others.

Materials: Activities are recommended for groups of four. ropes, slinky toys, graphing paper, pencils/markers, ring stands with cross bars carts with wheels, large floor-size erasable world map, 2 liter clear plastic bottles, sand, tin foil pans, plastic and wood model houses, containers of water, stop watch, and spring scales. Strategy: Introduction: Today, we are going to investigate the two types of earthquake waves. They are surface waves and body waves. Vocabulary Building through discovery: Looking at the word "surface". Through the use of questions, the students should be able to infer its meaning by directing the students to the three parts of the earth [crust, mantel, and core]. "Surface" should be similar to the crust of the earth. "Body" should be similar to the earth's mantel and core. Ex: What part of the earth would be the surface? What part of you is the body? What parts of earth would represent the body? First, we will be discovering the two kinds of body waves. Activity: Those "Jumping Waves"

1. Give each group a jump rope and let them create waves.
2. Allow one student from each group to draw the kinds of waves created.
3. Use the drawings to identify the kind of waves that ropes create as being
"transverse waves".
4. Label the various parts of a transverse wave. The "crest" can be the high
density. The "trough" can be your low density. "Wavelength" must have one
crest, and one trough.

Activity: Those "Slinky Waves"

1. Give each group a slinky, and allow them to create more waves.
2. Allow one student from each group to draw the kinds of waves created.
3. Label all the waves that are "transverse waves", and identify the new
waves as a "compressional wave".
4. Label the parts of the "compressional wave". The part of the slinky that
is tight or close together is called "compressed". The loose part of the
slinky is known as the "rarefaction".

Activity: The "Race"

1. Take the longest slinky, and a spring scale. At various tension, let the
students use a timer to see which waves travel the fastest. Take at least
three timings. "Compressional Waves" should win this race. Therefore, we
are going to call them "Primary Waves" or "P Waves" for short. Now,
"transverse waves" came in second place, we will call them "Secondary Waves"
or "S Waves".
2. "Surface Waves" always occur at the surface or the "crest" of the earth.
This wave rides on top of the " P Waves" and the" S Waves", so it is called
the "Love Waves" or "L Waves". " Surface Waves" are the most destructive
"Compressional Waves" displace soil, sand, and rocks in front and back along
its path. "Transverse Waves" displace material perpendicular along its

The first signal of an earthquake is a sharp thump, compressional waves,
shear waves and finally the ground rolls caused by surface waves.

Activity: Measuring Waves with a seismograph

1. Take a ring stand attach a string long enough to reach the surface of the
2. Tie the other end of the string to a marker, so that, the tip of the marker
touches the graphing paper.
3. Make a chart on the graph paper. Let the y-axis represent magnitude, and
the x-axis distance.
4. Next, shake the table to create an earthquake using low intensity to high

There are two ways that scientist measure earthquake waves. They use
magnitude, or intensity. The seismograph measures "magnitude" which deals
with the waves along. "Intensity" measures destruction of earthquake waves
by the number of deaths, and other visual means.

When I refer to "low" or "high" intensity, it will relate to force or energy

Activity: Locating, and Plotting Epicenters

1. Place a large erasable world map on the floor.
2. Using prepared card containing latitudes, and another set with longitudes
coordinates of various earthquake locations. Give each student a card.
3. Call out coordinates in pairs.
4. Next, give each child a toy car. They are to place their cars on the
appropriate latitude or longitude lines.
5. Roll the cars on their appropriate line and mark the point of intersection.

Before this activity, you may take the students through directions finding
hemispheres, locating continents and oceans.

Epicenters are the origin of earthquakes.

Activity: Is the Earth a Solid Core? Liquefaction

1. Take a tin pan and pour sand into it. Just enough to cover the bottom.
2. Pour just enough water to saturate.
3. Pour another layer of sand.
4. Place a wooden house, or a monopoly game house on top of the sand.
5. Create an earthquake, either shake or strike the desk.

What happened to the house?

Activity: Liquefaction in a Bottle

1. Pour sand into a plastic or jar bottle using a funnel. The sand
should measure about 2-3 inches in height.
2. Use a large nail and put a hole into the lids.
3. Put water into another plastic bottle.
4. Take the lids and run plastic tubing. Make sure the tubing is long
enough to reach the sand in the other bottle.
5. Drop your model house into the bottle of sand.
6. Put the lids on both bottles.
7. Squeeze the bottle containing the water, and saturate the bottle containing
the sand.
8. Create an earthquake.

What do you observe?

Liquefaction occurs because of unconsolidated sand, clay or rocks.
Location is important in deciding on where you should live in this

9. Review the activity on epicenters. Bring out the floor map.

Where do we find most of our epicenters located?
Are they located by water?
What type of soil do you find?
Is water important to creating liquefaction?
Where would you choose to live?
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