Part II Take Home Test Geology 100

Part II Take Home Test Geology 100
Seismological Exercises and Plate Tectonic Questions (USGS Website)
60 points
(Partially from: Tulane University, Dept. of Earth and Environmental Sciences)
Answer the following questions. Typewritten answers must be turned in along with any maps
required to answer the questions. Please use colored font for your answers so I can find them
easy. For this problem you will need a ruler (hint, it might be easiest to use the cm scale) and a
drafting compass.
1. Shown below in Figure 1 are three seismograms that show the records of a small
earthquake somewhere in California. Time is marked on each seismogram by offsets in
the records. Each offset corresponds to the passage of 1 minute. The records are read
from left to right. Both P and S wave arrivals are recorded.
Shown below in Figure 2 are travel time curves for P and S waves determined from
local earthquakes in California. Also shown is a curve (line) labeled S-P, which is travel
time of the S wave minus the travel time of the P wave. Keep in mind how we
discussed in class finding the distance to the epicenter of an earthquake using a time
travel curve. Once you determine the S-P arrival time difference, you can either find
the best fit for this time difference between the S and P wave curves OR, in this case
(since the S-P curve is also plotted), just use that curve and find where the time arrival
difference intersects this curve, then read down for the distance in km to the epicenter.
a. From Figure 1, first carefully determine the time interval between the arrival of
the first S wave and the arrival of the first P wave at each seismographic station.
It is important that you determine these S-P intervals as precisely as possible.
(2 points)
b. From Figure 2, determine the distance of each seismographic station from the
earthquake, again, it is important that you be as precise as possible. (2
c. Then, using the map below in Figure 3, and a drawing compass, locate the
epicenter of this earthquake. (2 points)
d. On which fault did the earthquake most likely occur? (1 point)
2. On October 17, 1989, just prior to game 3 of the World Series between the San
Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics, a magnitude 7.1 Earthquake struck
northern California (This earthquake is known as the Loma Prieta Earthquake). The
earthquake occurred in the mountains west of San Jose California on the San Andreas
Fault. As a result of the earthquake, 41 people were killed when a double-decked
section of the Nimitz Freeway in Oakland collapsed, crushing people in their cars on the
lower deck. A geologic map showing the various rock types present in the Oakland area
and the location of the collapsed portion of the freeway (shown as a short dashed line)
is depicted below in Figure 4. Between the thick bars is the area where the freeway was
On the map, the areas marked as Holocene mud are areas that were formerly occupied
by San Francisco Bay, but have been filled with loose sediment in the last 100 years,
the mud contains lots of water in the pore spaces between the grains. The areas marked
Quaternary Alluvium are areas underlain by unconsolidated sediment deposited by
streams over the last 2 million years. The area marked Franciscan Formation is
underlain by solid sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks with a thin cover of
Several days after the magnitude 7.1 earthquake, small aftershocks shook the area. All
had epicenters near the main shock of October 17. Seismologists placed several portable
seismometers at stations S1, S3, and S4 (as shown on the map) and recorded these
aftershocks. Seismographic recordings for one of these aftershocks, a magnitude 4.1
earthquake, for each of the three stations are shown in Figure 5, below. Note that the
epicenter of the aftershock was far enough away that all of the recording stations could
be considered to be about the same distance from the earthquake.
a. What observations can you make about the seismic response (degree of shaking)
on the three types of materials underlying the area? (2 points)
b. What conditions were likely responsible for the double-decked Nimitz Freeway
freeway to collapse where it did? (3 points)
c. Considering that some towns/cities like New Orleans are built on watersaturated river muds, how do you think New Orleans would fare if there were a
major earthquake nearby? (2 points)
3. Three of the factors that are largely responsible for building damage during an
earthquake are the degree of ground shaking, type of building construction, and
liquefaction. This exercise is designed to explore these relationships. Imagine that you
are given the opportunity to become the San Francisco Bay Area regional manager for
Lameclaims Insurance Company. Because this company has such a high profit margin,
they can afford to provide housing for their regional managers. Thus, one of the perks of
the job is that they will give you title to a house in one of the prestigious suburbs of San
Francisco, Mill Valley, located on the Marin Peninsula, north of San Francisco. The
company is offering you a choice between three different homes that they have
acquired. Because you know that the San Francisco Bay Area is prone to earthquakes
and you also know that you will have to pay the insurance premiums for both home
owner's and earthquake insurance, you want to make the best choice of which home to
take based on safety concerns and the ability of the house to withstand damage from
possible future earthquakes. Since Lameclaims requires that you purchase insurance
from them, you know that the premiums that you will pay will depend on the home's
vulnerability and susceptibility to earthquake damage. While surfing the web, you have
found a web site produced by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) that
provides information that will help you in making a decision:
This site provides maps and information on such things as intensity of ground shaking,
liquefaction, and the response of types of building construction to earthquakes, among
lots of other useful information.
The homes from which you get to choose are the following, all within the 94941 zip
50 Plymouth Ave (Single Family Wood Frame 2 story house built after1939)*
75 Avon Ave (Unreinforced Masonry 2 story house)
170 Walnut Ave (Single Family Wood Frame 2 story house built before 1940)
*Note that this exercise is hypothetical. The actual existence of houses at these addresses is not known with
certainty, nor are the construction characteristics at any of these houses known. Any resemblance to actual houses
or addresses is purely coincidental and is unintended.
You should use the links to the interactive liquefaction maps and shaking maps to first
determine the susceptibility of each of these homes to liquefaction and shaking during a worst
case scenario earthquake - specifically, an earthquake where the entire northern portion of San
Andreas fault moves and generates a Magnitude 7.9 earthquake like it did in 1906. Proceed as
First, click on the link to the Liquefaction Maps/Info. On the page that opens, click on the link
to "Interactive Liquefaction SUSCEPTIBILITY Map ". This will open the ABAG GIS
(Geographic Information System) page. A map showing Liquefaction Susceptibility for the
entire San Francisco Bay Area will load. Notice that the various buttons occur on both the left
and right-hand side of the map. Of particular importance are the buttons to Zoom in/out and the
button for Help. Notice that the map is at a scale much too large to be useful. You will need to
zoom in to the area you are interested in to get useful information. Since you know the
addresses of the properties are you interested in, you can click on the down arrow next to "Map
a Location". in the lower right, then select "Search by Address", then click on the "Find
Address" button. In the upper box enter the street address of the first property you are interested
in (i.e. 50 Plymouth Ave), then in the Zip Code box, enter the zip code (i.e. 94941). Finally,
click on the "Locate" button. A zoomed in map will load showing the location of the address
you entered. You can zoom in a bit further if you click the + sign under zoom in on the left. To
see what the different colors mean, click the "view legend" button on the left. You can then use
the Legend on the right to determine the Liquefaction Susceptibility for the property. Repeat
the procedure for each of the other two properties.
Please note, don’t get to frustrated with this website, it may not work perfectly every time, but
keep trying (as I have) and eventually you will get the information you need. If your computer
(for whatever reason) will not allow all of the functions (such as downloading the map) USE
ANOTHER COMPUTER! It is not an excuse for not finishing the assignment.
Since you can't produce a map that shows all three addresses at the same time, remember where
each address is located so that you can print one map and put the locations of the three
properties on one map by hand, otherwise you will have to remember the locations of the three
different properties for the next part of the exercise. This map is required to be turned in with
the rest of your assignment.
Next, go back to the main ABAG Earthquake Maps page and click on the link to Shaking Maps/Info. Then
click on the link to Interactive Maps - Future Earthquake Scenarios. Wait for the page to
completely load, then check to make sure the box next to "Entire San Andreas (1906 Quake)" is
checked (look to the right under “map layers” to find this). As you did above, you want to
locate each property, so click on the down arrow next to Map Location and bring up a map
showing the location of each property. Again Once the map loads, you can zoom in a bit
further if you click the + sign under "zoom in" on the left. To see the legend, click on the
button on the left hand side of the screen to "View Legend". Note the Modified Mercalli
Intensity Shaking Severity Level for each property. Note that you do not have to turn in any
printed copies of these maps for this part of the homework exercise. Answer the following
a. For each property, what is the Liquefaction Susceptibility and the Shaking
Severity Level, including Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale value for an
earthquake similar to the 1906 earthquake? (3 points)
b. From your acquired knowledge of the relationships between shaking intensity,
liquefaction, and the type of geologic material underlying an area, make an
educated guess about the topography and materials that underlie each of the
three properties (3 points).
Before you use the answers to the above questions to decide which property you will accept
from Lameclaims, you should consider the type of construction involved in each of the houses.
To determine the effects of construction type during the shaking of the worst case scenario
earthquake, from the main ABAG page click on the link to Shaking Maps/Info. Then under
“future earthquake shaking scenarios” click on “what is modified mercalli intensity scale
(MM1)? Here you can review the scale, then go back to the main ABAG page and find (in the
menu to the left) “vulnerable housing”.
Page down, looking at the pictures of various types of construction damaged in other
earthquakes as you go (and descriptions of various building types). From the information you
obtained above on Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale shaking and knowledge of the
construction type for each address, answer the following question:
c. Which property would you accept from Lameclaims based on all of the
information available and your desire to have the safest and least susceptible
house available, keeping in mind that the Modified Mercalli Scale does not say
anything about possible damage that may result from liquefaction? Discuss the
reasoning used to obtain your answer. (3 points)
Plate Tectonics:
4. View the map “This Dynamic Planet” (on the wall in the geology lab room 2733). I
hope your understanding of Plate Tectonics has grown to the highest level now. Please
answer the following questions:
a. Describe any patterns you notice regarding the location of earthquakes (i.e., are they
randomly scattered around the map or is there some underlying pattern?). If there
are patterns, describe three example locations and the pattern you notice at each
location. (2 points)
b. Describe any patterns you notice regarding the depth of earthquakes. For example,
where are the shallow earthquakes located? Where are the deep earthquakes located
relative to the shallow and intermediate earthquakes? If there are patterns, describe
three example locations and the patterns you notice at each location. (2 points)
c. Now interpret your answers above. For (a.) why do you believe the earthquake
locations are either randomly scattered around the Earths’ surface OR found at
specific locations? For (b.) why do you believe the various earthquake depths are
scattered around the Earth’s surface OR found in specific locations? Also, if they are
found in specific locations, what is the relationship between the shallow,
intermediate and deep earthquakes (e.g., do they occur together everywhere? Why or
why not?). (3 points)
d. Look at volcano locations on the map. Describe any patterns you notice regarding
volcano locations on the map. In general, do volcanoes occur randomly scattered
around the Earth’s surface or in specific areas? Describe any relationship you see
between volcano locations and earthquake locations. (3 points).
5. Go the the USGS website by clicking on the following link:
please click on the “contents” link and then begin reading “This Dynamic Earth”(the story of
plate tectonics). Begin by clicking on the “preface” link and then reading each page and
clicking no the forward arrow to answer the questions below.
a. The forerunner to the Theory of Plate Tectonics is known as: _________________.
It became a full-blown theory after a couple articles published by German
Meteorologist ___________ _____________. The supercontinent known as
____________, initially broke up into two large continental landmasses known as
_____________ and ________________. (2 points)
b. Describe below in two sentences evidence that Wegener used to initially support his
theory that continents move around the Earth’s surface, and the major weakness in
his theory: (1 point)
c. Describe the difference between the principles of catastrophism and
uniformitarianism in shaping the Earth’s surface: (1 point)
d. Under the Page “The Developing Theory” the following statements are written: “In
particular, four major scientific developments spurred the formulation of the platetectonics theory: (1) demonstration of the ruggedness and youth of the ocean floor;
(2) confirmation of repeated reversals of the Earth magnetic field in the geologic
past; (3) emergence of the seafloor-spreading hypothesis and associated recycling of
oceanic crust; and (4) precise documentation that the world's earthquake and
volcanic activity is concentrated along oceanic trenches and submarine mountain
Summarize key evidence under each of the numbered statements above that helped
revive Wegener’s theory and eventually lead to the Theory of Plate Tectonics (the
more detailed and accurate your statements are the more points you will earn) (4
points possible).
e. At a __________________ plate boundary, crust is neither created nor destroyed as
plates move horizontally past one another. (1 point)
f. Give an example of a divergent plate boundary involving oceanic crust and example
of a divergent plate boundary involving continental crust. What is happening to the
Earth’s crust at these boundaries? (2 points)
g. Give examples convergent plate boundaries involving the following crust:
1. Oceanic-oceanic:
2. Oceanic-continental:
3. Continental-continental:
Which of these convergent boundaries above generally produce volcanoes?
Which of these convergent boundaries above generally produce large
earthquakes? Why? (3 points)
h. Give an example of a transform plate boundary that occurs on land. What is
happening to the Earth’s crust at this boundary? (1 point)
i. What are the slowest and fastest plate speeds measured through investigation of
magnetic stripe patterns of the seafloor? What is the most effective modern day
technique for measuring crustal motions? (1 point)
j. What is a “hotspot”? Describe how the Hawaiian Islands have formed relative to the
hotspot/mantle plume theory. (2 points)
k. One weakness of Wegener’s theory was he could not explain the driving mechanism
behind plate tectonics. Today several ideas exist including “mantle convection”.
Provide a sketch below of mantle convection and describe how this could drive plate
motion, including the forces of “ridge push” and “slab pull” (label the location of
these forces on your sketch). In order for mantle convection to work the Earth’s
interior must be very hot. Why is the Earth’s interior hot today? (3 points)
l. Under the “Plate Tectonics and People” heading, describe in detail 3 positive and 3
negative impacts to people living along plate boundaries. (6 points)