Visit the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program to find out about global patterns of earthquake incidents (USGS, 2006). Can mapping earthquakes help identify fault lines? They also have a list of science fair project ideas. Another great resource for earthquake-oriented science fair projects is by Jeffery Barker (Barker, 1994). Build a model to study the forces of an earthquake using sandpaper-covered blocks. What are the forces involved? How are stress and friction in balance along a fault line?…
The same principles of geology that we use to investigate the Earth can also be applied to other planets. Visit the Astrogeology Research Program at the USGS to find out how information about the geology of other planets can be gathered (USGS, 2006). Can you make a map or model of another planet? What minerals are found on other planets? Which planets have similar composition to the earth? What kind of geological forces occur on other planets? Do other planets have earthquakes, landslides…
What is geomagnetism, and how does it affect the earth? Visit the USGS Geomagnetism program for more information about this invisible force (USGS, 2006). How is the earth's magnetic field patterned? Are the magnetic poles located at the exact North and South Pole? How can the fields be mapped on the Earth's surface? What is declination? Use the mapping tools to study changes in declination patterns over time. (USGS, 2006)
On December 26, 2004, a magnitude 9.2 megathrust earthquake off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia unleashed a powerful tsunami that hit the coasts of 14 countries and caused the loss of over 200,000 lives. The devastation that the tsunami left in its wake was heartbreaking, and people across the world united to help the survivors.
Tsunamis are a powerful force of nature that can change the features of a coastline and result in millions of dollars in economic loss, but can…
What causes landslides? The USGS Landslide Hazards Program conducts research needed to answer major questions related to landslide hazards. Where and when will landslides occur? How big will the landslides be? How fast and how far will they move? What areas will the landslides affect or damage? How frequently do landslides occur in a given locality? Investigate the patterns of landslide occurrence in your area. Are they related to locations, geology, or topography? Are they more frequent…
Minerals are sometimes precious, like diamonds. But most minerals are very common, like sodium, which is found in salt. How are minerals found and identified? How are our mineral resources distributed? Visit the USGS Mineral Resource Program to find mineral resources in your state. How are satellite images used to identify potential mineral sources? You can also find out how minerals are identified using spectroscopy. How are potentially harmful minerals, like mercury, dealt with? Visit the…
Did you know that waves travel through the Earth's crust all the time? One major source of these waves is earthquakes, although ground motion can also be caused by something man-made, such as a mine blast or nuclear explosion, or other natural events, such as landslides or volcanic activity.
How does an earthquake cause these waves? The entire outer shell of the Earth, known as the lithosphere, is made up of tectonic plates that are constantly moving. There are seven or eight large…
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Familiarity with software and instruments used to collect and analyze data from sound waves is helpful.
A sound generator and amplifier that can connect to a loudspeaker are required. An accelerometer is also needed that can interface with computer software to measure the amplitude of sound waves.
Is soil structure an important factor in earthquake dynamics? Investigate soil liquefaction and how different soil types respond to earthquake movements. Are movements more dramatic in sandy/loamy or clay type soils? Which soil structures are most stable? Which are the most volatile? (MCEER, 2005)
How is geology important for our energy resources? Coal, oil, and natural gas are formed by geological processes over millions of years. Certain geological formations can indicate a reservoir of coal, oil, or natural gas. Also, geothermal processes can be used as an energy resource. How are these formations identified? How are the resources extracted? You can use the to access, view, and download information from geospatial databases containing a broad spectrum of data produced by the…
If you live in a humid environment, then you know that summer is not only hot, it is downright muggy. You can test the effect of humidity on temperature by measuring the temperature and humidity in your bathroom while running the shower. You can also use historical weather data to compare average seasonal temperatures in humid (e.g., Florida) and dry (e.g., Arizona) regions. How does humidity relate to temperature? Pressure? Why do humid environments tend to be coastal or tropical? How does…
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