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Determination of Epicenters Using Triangulation


Amy Elleman and Chris Donovan

Rushville Consolidated High School


Day 1:       

To introduce the study of earthquakes, the NOVA video “The Day the Earth Shook” will be shown. By watching this video the students will see the local damage and social impact of an earthquake.  This information can be tied to information presented in World Geography class.



Day 2:

1.    Using seismograms, students will learn to identify P and S waves.  (Unbeknownst to the students, these seismograms are of the Kobe and Northridge earthquakes.)

2.    Students will learn to determine S-P intervals.

3.    Students will use a modified travel-time curve to determine distance to the epicenter from each seismic station.

4.    Using maps of Southern California and Japan, and a compass, the student will determine the epicenter of each earthquake from each seismic station.  (Students will have to learn to use map scales to determine accurate distances)

5.    Student will report the epicenter location by using triangulation method. (Students should recognize that the data used in this activity was the data collected during the Kobe and Northridge earthquakes.  This knowledge will be used later in the computer lab.)



Day 3:

          After completion of part A, the students will work in the computer lab using SWAP to test their results.  Students will also continue working with data from global and local seismic stations through the Internet.


Map of Japan Region


Seismic station---Akita, Japan



Seismic station—Pusan, South Korea


Seismic station—Tokyo, Japan



Map of Southwest United States


Seismic Station—Fresno, CA


Seismic Station—Phoenix, AZ



Seismic Station—Las Vegas, NV


Modified Travel Time Curve

Southwestern United States Data Table





Fresno, California



Las Vegas, Nevada



Phoenix, Arizona






Japan Region Data Table





Akita, Japan



Pusan, South Korea



Tokyo, Japan






 In or near what two cities are the epicenters located? ________________________________________________________________________________




Works Cited-


The maps and seismograms were obtained from the web site

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