Seismic shocker

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Seismic shocker

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Image: Schwede66

The story

This photo shows some of the devastation caused by the 7.4 magnitude earthquake that hit New Zealand’s South Island on September 4th.

As the country lies on a plate boundary it frequently experiences earthquakes but this was the most significant for 80 years.

Teaching ideas and resources

The earthquake can be used in both KS3 and KS4 classes when learning about earthquakes and plate tectonics.
The New Zealand earthquake Powerpoint I have written contains a starter to engage the students showing them a photograph of the destruction and asking them to predict what caused it.  You could also show them the video in the weblinks.

They are then shown a map with the plate boundaries and asked to explain why New Zealand experiences earthquakes.  This could be expanded on by giving the students a list of the top 10 largest earthquakes (see weblink below) and a copy of the map.  They can then mark on the locations of the quakes by using an atlas in order to see a pattern.

The following slide gives some information on the different types of plate boundaries (this quake happened on a transform boundary) and the final one contains questions on the epicentre which can be printed out and given to students to discuss in groups.  This last slide contains questions more suitable for GCSE students as they can use their knowledge of how seismologists use S and P waves to locate the epicentre.


News story about the earthquake

Video showing some of the devastation

Webpage with teaching resources more suitable for KS4/5 students (including a nice animation showing the propagation of seismic waves through the Earth)

Data of the top 10 largest earthquakes

Great website containing information, diagrams and animations about plate tectonics and earthquakes