Arizona State University Geology Earthquakes Lab Report: Geology Answers 2021
Arizona State University Geology Earthquakes Lab Report
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Part 2: WORLD SEISMICITY
Use the following website to observe the most recent seismicity,
Click on the 30 days tab. A table will appear. Use that table and the map to answer the
following questions. You can sort the data by simply click on the arrows on the header line of
Distribution and magnitude of recent earthquakes
Where did the 5 largest earthquakes by magnitude occur during the past month? Are they
related to plate boundaries? Which type? You can find that out by comparing the map of
each earthquake by clicking on the LOCATION tab. A map of the area will appear with the
distribution of the strongest earthquakes located in the area. Make sure that on the right
side menu the tab ?show plate boundary? is on.
Tectonic setting/ Type of plate
Fill the table below, ranking the earthquakes from the strongest to the least strong.
To have an appreciation of the energy associated with the strongest earthquake in this set,
go to: https://earthalabama.com/energy.htm Enter the magnitude and then click on the tab
What is the energy in Joules traveling by seismic waves? ______________
Look at the table ?calculated seismic energy?. If earthquake energy could be harnessed,
for how long could that earthquake power the US? ___________ For how many years
could that power the average USA household? ______________
Part 3: Earthquake Intensity and Secondary Earthquake Hazards case
The main hazard related to an earthquake is the ground shaking, however, earthquakes poses
several other hazards that can have longer lasting and more devastating effects on the natural
environment and human interests. These are called secondary seismic hazards:
Landslides and soil liquefaction
Damage to structures and infrastructures; buildings can collapse, trapping people inside
and burying streets in rubble. Damaged roads, rails, bridges can disrupt or cut off entire
communities and hinder rescue efforts
Fires and loss of lifelines from damage to utilities lines
Tsunami, which present the greatest hazard at coastline communities.
Permanent ground deformation
Loss of life and societal disruption. They can severely hinder economy and societal
The size of these secondary hazards depends on the earthquake strength and duration, on the
local geological conditions and on the type of structures and society preparedness.
In the following exercise, you will evaluate the differences between measurements of intensity
and magnitude and their relationship to secondary seismic hazards for case studies of historical
Read the material for each case study and answer the questions. For an in depth study click on
the links to access the main source of info. Based on the description, estimate the intensity of the
earthquake main shake using the Modified Mercalli Intensity scale on next page.
Mercalli Modified Intensity Scale
Description of events and damage
Not felt except by a very few under especially favorable conditions.
Felt only by a few persons at rest, especially on upper floors of buildings.
Felt by persons indoors, especially on upper floors of buildings. Many people do
not recognize it as an earthquake. Standing motor cars may rock slightly.
Vibrations similar to the passing of a truck. Duration estimated.
Felt indoors by many, outdoors by few during the day. At night, some awakened.
Dishes, windows, doors disturbed; walls make cracking sound. Sensation like
heavy truck striking building. Standing motor cars rocked noticeably.
Felt by nearly everyone; many awakened. Some dishes, windows broken. Unstable objects overturned. Pendulum clocks may stop.
Felt by all, many frightened. Some heavy furniture moved; a few instances of
fallen plaster. Damage slight.
Damage negligible in buildings of good design and construction; slight to moderate in well-built ordinary structures; considerable damage in poorly built or
badly designed structures; some chimneys broken.
Damage slight in specially designed structures; considerable damage in ordinary
substantial buildings with partial collapse. Damage great in poorly built structures. Fall of chimneys, factory stacks, columns, monuments, walls. Heavy furniture overturned.
Damage considerable in specially designed structures; well-designed frame
structures thrown out of plumb. Damage great in substantial buildings, with partial collapse. Buildings shifted off foundations.
Some well-built wooden structures destroyed; most masonry and frame structures destroyed with foundations. Rails bent.
Few, if any, (masonry) structures remain standing. Bridges destroyed. Broad fissures in ground. Underground pipe lines completely out of service. Earth slumps
and land slips in soft ground. Rails bent greatly.
Damage total. Waves seen on ground surfaces. Lines of sight and level distorted.
Objects thrown upward into the air.
CASE STUDY 1: December 16, 1811: New Madrid Fault estimated Richter Magnitude: 8.0
Historical documents from eyewitness report that at the onset of the earthquake the ground
rose and fell?bending the trees until their branches intertwined and opening deep cracks in the
ground. Landslides swept down the steeper bluffs and hillsides; large areas of land were
uplifted; and still larger areas sank and were covered with water that emerged through fissures.
Huge waves on the Mississippi River overwhelmed many boats and washed others high on the
shore. High banks caved and collapsed into the river; sand bars, and points of islands gave way;
whole islands disappeared. Local uplifts of the ground and water waves moving upstream gave
the illusion that the river was flowing upstream. Ponds of water also were agitated noticeably.
Surface rupturing did not occur, however. The region most seriously affected was characterized
by raised or sunken lands, fissures, sinks, sand blows, and large landslides that covered an area
of 78,000?129,000 square kilometers, extending from Cairo, Illinois, to Memphis, Tennessee, and
from Crowley?s Ridge to Chickasaw Bluffs, Tennessee.
Although the motion during the first shock was violent at New Madrid, Missouri, it was not as
heavy and destructive as that caused by two aftershocks about 6 hours later. Only one life was
lost in falling buildings at New Madrid, but chimneys toppled and log cabins were thrown
down as far distant as Cincinnati, Ohio; St. Louis, Missouri; and in many places in Kentucky,
Missouri, and Tennessee. In Lake County uplift the Mississippi River valley was upwarped in
several topography bulges. Other areas subsided by as much as 5 m, although 1.5?2.5 m was
more common in Arkansas.
3. By reading the text above and comparing the testimonials with the degree of the Mercalli
Scale you will be able to estimate the intensity. Use the highest level of damage for your
estimate. What was the intensity of the New Madrid Earthquake? Provide the answer and
list the evidence you based your answer on.
Which of the items you described in your answer is related to a secondary hazard?
CASE STUDY 2: April 18, 1906; San Francisco. Estimated Richter Magnitude: 7.8
The earthquake damaged buildings and structures in all parts of the city and county of San
Francisco, although over much of the area, the damage was moderate in amount and character.
Most chimneys toppled or were badly broken. The business district was built on ground filled
in over Yerba Buena cove. Pavements were buckled, arched, and fissured; brick and frame
houses were damaged extensively or destroyed; sewers and water mains were broken; and
streetcar tracks were bent into wavelike forms.
On or near the San Andreas fault, buildings were destroyed and trees were knocked to the
ground. The surface of the ground was torn and heaved into furrow-like ridges. Roads crossing
the fault line were impassable, and pipelines were broken, shutting off the water supply to the
city. The fires that ignited soon after the onset of the earthquake quickly raged through the city
because of the lack of water to control them. They destroyed a large part of San Fran- cisco.
Dislocation of fences and roads indicated the amount of ground movement between 3?4.5 m. In
Mendocino County, a fence and a row of trees were displaced almost 5 m. Vertical displacement of as much as 0.9 m was observed in Sonoma County. Vertical displacement was not
detected toward the south end of the fault. https://www.sfmuseum.org/1906/ew.html
5. What was the intensity of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake? List the evidence you based
your answer on.
6. Which of the items you described in your answer above, is related to a secondary hazard?
What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Modified Mercalli Scale when studying
8. Examine the map of Seismic Hazard for the two zones expressed as percentage of the
ground acceleration. Look at the map at https://pubs.usgs.gov/sim/3325/pdf/SIM3325_sheet1.pdf
Is the hazard comparable? Why is the hazard area so different in size?
Part 4: BUILDING DESIGN AND GROUND RESONANCE
Resonance is the tendency of a system to oscillate with greater amplitude at some frequencies
than at others. The resonant frequency of any given system is the frequency at which the
maximum-amplitude oscillation occurs. All buildings have a natural resonance, which is the
number of seconds it takes for the building to naturally vibrate back and forth. The taller the
building, the longer its resonance period will be. In this section of the exercise you will learn
about building resonance and about engineering solutions to minimize the damage from
oscillations. Watch the videos and answer these questions
Ground and building resonance frequencies
9. Which type of ground has the higher frequency, hard rocks or softer sediment? ________
If the period of ground motion matches the natural resonance of a building what will
Design of safer buildings
10. After watching the video complete the drawing of this frame for a 4 story building with
structures that will make it more resistant during an earthquake.
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