Where can I find earthquake educational materials?

Start with our Earthquake Hazards Education site. That includes:

Other good starting points include:

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What is the difference between aftershocks and swarms?

Aftershocks are a sequence of earthquakes that happen after a larger mainshock on a fault. Aftershocks occur near the fault zone where the mainshock rupture occurred and are part of the "readjustment process” after the main slip on the fault. Aftershocks become less frequent with time, although they can continue for days, weeks, months, or even...

Do earthquakes occur in Antarctica?

Earthquakes do occur in Antarctica, but not very often. There have been some big earthquakes--including one magnitude 8 --in the Balleny Islands (between Antarctica and New Zealand). The boundary between the Scotia Plate and the Antarctic Plate just grazes the north tip of the Antarctic Peninsula (look "northwest" from the Pole toward South...

Where can I find earthquake educational materials?

Start with our Earthquake Hazards Education site. That includes: Earthquakes for Kids Cool Earthquake Facts Earthquake Science for Everyone Other good starting points include: State Geological Surveys for states in earthquake-prone regions The Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills website IRIS (Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology), which...

Can we cause earthquakes? Is there any way to prevent earthquakes?

Earthquakes induced by human activity have been documented at many locations in the United States and in many other countries around the world. Earthquakes can be induced by a wide range of causes including impoundment of reservoirs, surface and underground mining, withdrawal of fluids and gas from the subsurface, and injection of fluids into...

What is surface faulting or surface rupture in an earthquake?

Surface rupture occurs when movement on a fault deep within the earth breaks through to the surface. NOT ALL earthquakes result in surface rupture.

At what depth do earthquakes occur? What is the significance of the depth?

Earthquakes occur in the crust or upper mantle , which ranges from the earth's surface to about 800 kilometers deep (about 500 miles). The strength of shaking from an earthquake diminishes with increasing distance from the earthquake's source, so the strength of shaking at the surface from an earthquake that occurs at 500km deep is considerably...

Why are there so many earthquakes in the Geysers area in Northern California?

The Geysers Geothermal Field is located in a tectonically active region of Northern California. The major seismic hazards in the region are from large earthquakes occurring along regional faults that are located miles away from the geothermal field, such as the San Andreas and Healdsburg-Rodgers Creek faults. However, activities associated with...

What is an earthquake and what causes them to happen?

An earthquake is caused by a sudden slip on a fault . The tectonic plates are always slowly moving, but they get stuck at their edges due to friction. When the stress on the edge overcomes the friction, there is an earthquake that releases energy in waves that travel through the earth's crust and cause the shaking that we feel. In California there...

Foreshocks, aftershocks - what's the difference?

"Foreshock" and "aftershock" are relative terms. Foreshocks are earthquakes that precede larger earthquakes in the same location. An earthquake cannot be identified as a foreshock until after a larger earthquake in the same area occurs. Aftershocks are smaller earthquakes that occur in the same general area during the days to years following a...

Can the position of the moon or the planets affect seismicity? Are there more earthquakes in the morning/in the evening/at a certain time of the month?

Earthquakes are equally as likely to occur in the morning or the evening. Many studies in the past have shown no significant correlations between the rate of earthquake occurrence and the semi-diurnal tides when using large earthquake catalogs. Several recent studies, however, have found a correlation between earth tides (caused by the position of...
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Date published: January 29, 2018

Elementary school students visit USGS office in Santa Cruz

On January 17, 4th and 5th graders from De Laveaga Elementary School visited the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz, California.

Date published: December 22, 2016

A Grand Slam for Students, Schools and Science

"It’s a grand slam for all involved,” said Dawn Childs, USGS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units.  “Recent high school graduates with special needs get real-world experience while helping USGS scientists on projects ranging from grizzly bears and energy to historic documents and bird migration. And a school system gets to successfully train students to enter the workforce."

Date published: June 5, 2015

SAFRR at El Rincon Elementary School's Career Day

SAFRR at El Rincon Elementary School's Career Day

Date published: March 15, 2012

Art Exhibit Empowers Women Through Art and Wetland Education

The talents of local women depicting nature through their artwork will be showcased at the fifth annual Women's History Month exhibit. 

Date published: February 17, 2006

Take a Geology Field Trip in Your Own Schoolyard

Schoolyard Geology, the newest U.S. Geological Survey education website, (http://education.usgs.gov/schoolyard/) got its start in San Quentin State Prison from a USGS scientist teaching Geology 101 to inmates there.

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Photo of USFWS outreach specialist showing students a flyer
February 9, 2017

USFWS Education Specialist Teaches Students about NWR (USGS WERC)

Photo of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service education specialist teaching elementary students about the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

young students examine dated tree cross section
May 20, 2016

Students examine a dated tree cross section.

During the 2016 BioBlitz at Bandelier National Monument, members of the New Mexico Landscapes Field Station presented fire history information which intrigued these young students.

Scientist pointing to graphic on a screen while children watch
October 31, 2009

Class of School Students watch earthquake demo during education event

USGS seismologist Luke Blair demonstrates an earthquake animation to students during an Earth Science Week event at the USGS in Menlo Park.

October 26, 2008

Earthquakes? Don't Freak Out--ShakeOut!

What if you knew that a magnitude 7.8 earthquake would happen in less than three weeks?

In this video interview, USGS earthquake scientist Dr. Lucy Jones explains that millions of Southern Californians will be preparing as if they do know, thanks to the Great Southern California ShakeOut.

P waves and S waves

P waves and S waves

Diagram showing wavefield behavior of P-waves (compressional) and S-waves (shear). 

Image: Earthquake Education and Outreach in Haiti

Earthquake Education and Outreach in Haiti

Following the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake, the USGS has been helping with earthquake awareness and monitoring in the country, with continued support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). This assistance has helped the Bureau des Mines et de l'Energie (BME) in Port-au-Prince establish a Seismology Technical Unit and develop a first-ever national