While the recent news reports that Ebb and Flow have been zipping around, mapping the gravitational field of and crashing into the moon, earth has been shaking! Yes, literally so! The twin NASA lunar probes launched in September 2011 no doubt have stoked a keen interest among avid and novice scientists to learn more about the moon’s gravitational field. Yet some novice scientists may find the study of the earth’s motion to be an intriguing and bona fide endeavor. Looking at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recent data, over the last year there have been earthquakes averaging two or more per month with magnitudes of 6.0 or greater worldwide. The most recent report dates to this past Friday, December 14, 2012 with an epicenter in the Pacific Ocean, southwest off the coast of Avalon, California, with a magnitude 6.3
It is noted that tracking and monitoring is not only a dedicated science of research for academic and professional Geo-scientists, but also some kids and grown kids too, may find seismology to be a science that provides great fun. As there are only six days now before Christmas, there are some online sites that may still be able to provide the right stuff to make the Christmas holiday more interesting to the earth scientists! Parents can make the holidays full of excitement and fun past Christmas, while offering some educational resources that the kids can get some academic enrichment in return.
First, looking at some facts though to peak more interest, the USGS reports an earthquake of a magnitude 7.2 produces 10 times more ground motion than a magnitude 6.2 earthquake, but it releases about 32 times more energy. The energy release best indicates the destructive power of an earthquake. With the most devastating earthquakes occurring in Haiti and Japan within the last two years averaging magnitudes of 7.0 and 9.0 respectively, this assertion could be understood more thoroughly. The magnitude of the March 2011 event in Japan places the earthquake as the fourth largest in the world since 1900.
Secondly, it appears that over the last 30 years there has been a marked increase of earthquakes worldwide; however the USGS debunks the theory that increased earthquakes point to a larger more devastating event. When asked if the increased activity mean a big one is going to hit, the USGS cites that “A temporary increase or decrease in seismicity is part of the normal fluctuation of earthquake rates. Neither an increase or decrease worldwide is a positive indication that a large earthquake is imminent.” Nonetheless, dedicated enthusiasts track these events, almost to say, religiously. To view an extremely interesting historical graphical overview, visit the website: DLindquist.com for The Earthquake Project's rendering.
The USGS provides a comprehensive page for young earthquake scientists at the website: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/kids/. Here kids can explore the latest earthquake data, puzzles and games, learning links, animations and cool earthquake facts; additionally the site provides great science fair projects, and explains the science of earthquakes for the young readers. Another free resource on the this same site is the Earthquake ABC which provides a parent’s and teachers guides to A Child's View of Earthquake Facts and Feelings. ©
If there is an interest to purchase online techno items, additional resource pages for seismological gadgets can be found in a number of different places. Kids with an avid can build their own Kabuto-Mushi robots which currently are used for rescue missions like earthquake and natural disaster sites. The robot can collect video images of the site. Imagine running one of these in the backyard! Check it out at Edmunds ScientificsOnline. A truckload of Earthquake Science Fair Projects for kids can also be found at: Science Buddies.org website . Also, another great shopping find is the National Geographic online store, which provides a variety of books and DVD for age ranges 4-12 years old.
For the grown kid at heart, there is a world of information in books on modern and historical seismology. A sampling of titles already curated for your convenience and which also may be excellent gifts are listed here on this list of earthquakebooks on Amazon.com. Additionally, if you really would like to go to a deeper level of inquiry and awareness, a free I-phone app, QuakeFeed Earthquakes from Artisan Global, LLC provides World Earthquake Info Displayed on ESRI Maps; and of course it is available on Apple's I-Tunes website.
For general weather instruments you can find a great choice at the National Geographic Store online. So, for those who do, don’t procrastinate any longer; get started because the earth is shaking as you are reading here!