ESS 202 Earthquakes Lab Syllabus
TA: Josh Carmichael
Office Hrs: The last hour of lab (it takes only 2 hrs typically) or by appt.
Office Loc: ATG 202 and APL 535
Sections and Times
AA Tues 12:30—3:30
AB Thurs 12:30—3:30
AC Fri 9:30—12:30
JHN 021 (Regular Classroom)
JHN 025 (?) (Computer Room)
Grading: Attendance, labs, 2 final papers and a presentation will be weighted for your
lab grade. The classroom grade of ESS 202 is complied from quizzes given on random
days during the week, to ensure your attendance.
Missing Labs: If you miss 2 or more labs without prior permission, you can’t pass. If
you miss lab, and need to make one up, I will make accommodations. I realize some of
you are athletes. We will arrange something.
This lab course is intended to give you an overview of very basic concepts geoscientists
and seismologists apply when studying earthquakes and related geological features. It
has three components of understanding to it: conceptual, qualitative and quantitative.
Emphasis will likely be placed on qualitative understanding, though you may be
responsible for using a calculator to do some very basic math. For example, you may
learn in a given lab methods for obtaining quantitative information about a geologic
feature using a topographical map, such as the calculating the average elevation gradient
near a cliff. That said, no prior knowledge of physics, geology or chemistry is assumed.
Advice for Success
It should be easy for you to obtain a relatively high grade in this course if you show up,
listen, and go to lab. This is the easiest way to get a good grade too.
What Seismologists Do
A misconception from prior lab feedback is that seismology is ―just plate tectonics‖. To
address this misconception, I have designed a no-math-background-necessary lab using
MATLAB to illustrate how to use some tools to interpret seismograms. Whether or not
you will use these labs depends on your instructor’s evaluation of them.
Most importantly, seismology is a very interdisciplinary field. Physics, chemistry,
geology, applied math and signal processing are heavily used by most seismologists.
Here is a rough outline of the subject matter covered in the labs:
2008 Earthquakes Labs
I have complied and reviewed the student feedback from prior years. There was a
positive consensus on some labs, and a negative consensus on others. In general, I agreed
with the student response. Some of these labs may change slightly to reflect this.
Week 1: Tour of the PNSN lab
Homework: Looking up information on the USGS site about past quakes
Week 2: Geologic Time
Plotting geologic time on a roll of paper
Relative dating – structural cross-section
Absolute dating – radiometric carbon dating
Week 3: Earthquake Location – triangulation
Earthquake Frequency – graphing on a semi-log plot
Week 4: Our Dynamic Planet – CD-ROM in the computer lab
Tectonics and plate boundaries
Homework: Reading about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake
Week 5: Small Area Papers – instructions, lecture on writing the paper
Time to finish lab #4 and begin small area paper
Week 6: Steve Malone’s lab on seismometers and earthquake identification
Time to work on small area paper
Week 7: Nova video on Kobe and Northridge earthquakes
Small area papers due
Week 8: Liquefaction
Shake tables with model buildings
Plotting liquefaction points on hazard maps around Olympia
Week 9: Active Tectonics of the Puget Sound Region
Juan de Fuca slab: Focal mechanisms and relative plate motion
Seattle Fault: reading topographic maps , drawing cross-sections
THIS LAB (WEEK 9) MAY BE CHANGED
Week 10: Group presentations of final projects
Me: My research involves ice-quakes: seismic motions on glaciers resulting from sudden
draining of supraglacial lakes and summer meltwater. The current thought is that water
lubricates the glacial bed and causes ice to speed up. The ultimate effect is that more ice
is pushed to the coast where it calves off and is lost to the sea. My other research area is
in signal processing, specifically applied functional analysis.