5.8 Virginia Earthquake

August 23, 2011. - Residents from Georgia to Canada felt the ground shake from an earthquake that occurred not on the west coast, but in the center of the North American tectonic plate. It had been 70 years since the east coast felt an earthquake like the 5.8 that originated in Mineral, Virginia.

Articles to Share with Students

General Information

Questions for Classroom Discussion

  • What is an earthquake? Explain the difference between the magnitude (Richter Scale) and intensity (Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale) of an earthquake. Where are earthquakes most common?
  • Describe the difference between the magnitude (Richter Scale) and intensity (Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale) of an earthquake. Why are both of these scales important for learning about an earthquake event?
  • How do scientists study earthquakes? Who else is involved in studying and reporting on earthquakes besides scientists?
  • Where was the most recent earthquake in the United States? In the world? Which recent earthquake was the closest to you? (*use the website http://earthquake.usgs.gov/ to answer this question)
  • Could an earthquake occur in Pennsylvania. Explain why/why not.
  • Why do you think earthquakes are so difficult to predict?
  • Should people be able to live in an area where earthquakes occur? Why/why not?

Big Ideas

From the Earth Science Literacy Principles

  • Big Idea 1. Earth scientists use repeatable observations and testable ideas to understand and explain our planet. (1.2, 1.3, 1.4)
  • Big Idea 3. Earth is a complex system of interacting rock, water, air, and life. (3.6, 3.7)
  • Big Idea 4. Earth is continuously changing. (4.5)
  • Big Idea 8. Natural hazards pose risks to humans. (8.1, 8.4, 8.6, 8.7, 8.8)

From The Big Ideas in Earth and Space Science (ESBD)

  • The Geosphere (5)
  • The Nature of Science (21, 22, 24)

For more information on the Big Ideas, visit http://www.earthscienceliteracy.org/document.html or http://www.esbd.org/resources/big_ideas.html

Compiled August 30, 2011, by L.A. Guertin

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