Lesson 1: Plot Current Earthquake Data
In this lesson students will access USGS earthquake information and plot the locations on a world map.
- Access and interpret online data information.
- Plot the longitude and latitude of an earthquake on a map.
- Make generalizations about a particular regionís likelihood of having an
earthquake based upon its location.
Approximately 15 minutes a day over a two week
period for accessing and recording information.
Not enough time or limited computer / Internet
access...take a look a these
Implementation Assistance strategies.
- Musical Plates journal/notebook OR
- Large wall-size world map with latitude and
- Push pins, sticky dots/stars, different color
pens, etc. for plotting the earthquakes.
- If students will plot earthquakes individually,
the following free downloadable world maps are
available from National Geographic
if they do not already have one:
Post a large wall map on which students will mark the locations with push
Direct students to Activity One
in the Students Activities section.
Students will take turns marking locations on the wall map while others
find and mark the approximate location on their individual maps.
After the students have plotted locations for a few days, they will see
patterns emerge. Discuss and encourage them to make statements about where
the earthquakes seem to be more frequently occurring and make hypotheses
Plot earthquake locations for two weeks.
If students are completing this activity
individually, use the accuracy of the earthquake
locations that they plotted on their map as an
assessment piece. The class / student maps should
closely resemble the following USGS world map with the
earthquakes from the last 30 days.
The following instructions for Lesson One are printed in the Student Activities section of this web site.
Plot Current Earthquake
You will need either a small world map to plot the earthquakes individually or in a small group
OR a large world map to plot the earthquakes as a class. If you do not
have a map, you can download a map from the
National Geographic Xpeditions web site:
- Click on one of the web sites listed below to see all of the earthquakes that have occurred over the last few days which were larger than 2.5 on the Richter Scale. Note that in the first two columns you will see the time and date for each earthquake. Note that in the second two columns you will see the latitude and longitude coordinates for the epicenter of the earthquake.
- TEXT-BASED (Recommend)
USGS Earthquake Bulletin
NOTE: Magnitude Greater Than 2.5 Earthquakes
From Around the World
- IRIS List
of Earthquakes (last 30 days)
NOTE: a latitude of + corresponds to degrees
North and a latitude of - corresponds to degrees South
a longitude of + corresponds to degrees East and a longitude of -
corresponds to degrees West
- INTERACTIVE MAPS
- Use the latitude and longitude coordinates to plot a dot on your world map which represents the epicenter of the earthquake. For older students, use a blue star if the earthquake occurred near the surface (less than 100 km) and use a red star if it occurred deep (greater than 100 km) in the earth (you will see the depth measurements in the table.)
NOTE: You can use the links that appear in the last column of the table to assist you in finding the locations of the earthquakes if using the latitude and longitude coordinates is too difficult.
- Do this for a period of at least two (2) weeks.