Earthquakes

Earthquakes: Breaking New Ground

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In this video from QUEST produced by KQED, find diagrams of plate tectonics and look at the SAFOD earthquake study in Parkfield. Also, find information about the ELARMS earthquake alarm system and how it might help people in earthquake-prone areas.

This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

Using GPS to Study Earthquakes

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In this video from NOVA scienceNOW: “What's the Next Big Thing?” learn how geophysicist Eric Calais and his team were able to forecast a magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Haiti several years before a magnitude 7.0 struck the region. Using global positioning system (GPS) technology, Calais measures the speed of the tectonic plates on either side of the Enriquillo fault. Using the speed of the two plates and the number of years since the last big earthquake on the fault, he calculates how many meters of motion could be released during an earthquake. Because scientists are unable to measure forces deep inside the Earth, it was impossible for Calais to predict when the earthquake would occur.

 

This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

Earthquake! When Plates Collide

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This video excerpt from NOVA: "Deadliest Earthquakes" shows how Earth’s crust is made up of rocky slabs, called plates, and how those plates are constantly moving. As molten rock rises from Earth's interior and cools to form new crust, it forces older crust to grind against other plates or sink beneath them. Using ground movement data, scientists are able to calculate stress levels at these plate boundaries. This stress is released in a matter of seconds during an earthquake, sometimes generating as much energy as thousands of nuclear bombs.

This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

Earthquake Prediction

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Earthquake prediction has never been an exact science or an easy job. In 1923, the debate between two Japanese seismologists over whether or not a large earthquake was imminent and the citizens of Tokyo should be warned ended in tragedy. In this video segment adapted from NOVA, a contemporary seismologist tells the story of these two pioneers and describes the events of the infamous Kanto Earthquake.

1964 Alaska Earthquake

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Learn about the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964 in this video adapted from the Valdez Museum & Historical Archive. Hear a first-person account of the event, watch an animation that illustrates the subduction of the Pacific plate under the North American plate, and observe how Valdez was affected. In particular, learn about how the earthquake liquefied the ground, generated tsunami waves, and forced the community to rebuild in a new location.

Mount Pinatubo: Predicting a Volcanic Eruption

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No two volcanic eruptions happen in exactly the same way. Volcanoes are inherently unpredictable. Even so, scientists have learned to read the many signs volcanoes give off prior to an eruption in the hope of minimizing damage to lives and personal property. This video segment adapted from NOVA describes the race to read the signs presented by Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, just before it unleashed one of the most powerful eruptions of the 20th century.

Earthquakes: San Francisco

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The prediction of earthquakes may be inexact, but it is vital, especially when large cities such as San Francisco or Los Angeles are threatened. The San Andreas Fault and two other lesser-known faults all have the potential to deliver a massive earthquake to the San Francisco Bay area. In this video segment adapted from NOVA, a seismologist interprets earthquake data and explains how these data are used to predict the location and timing of San Francisco's next big earthquake.

Plate Tectonics: Further Evidence

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This video segment adapted from A Science Odyssey uses animation and archival footage to provide an overview of the theory of plate tectonics. Early evidence showing striking similarities between regions on opposite sides of vast oceans suggested that in Earth's distant past what are now separate continents may once have been connected. However, this evidence said nothing about how the continents could have moved to their present positions.

This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

The Hayward Fault: Predictable Peril

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The Hayward Fault, which ruptures on average every 140 years, last ruptured 150 years ago. In this video from QUEST produced by KQED, learn about the work being done to prepare for what may be the next big one.

Alaska Tsunami

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Discover why multiple tsunamis resulted from the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964 in this video adapted from Alaska Sea Grant. Hear firsthand accounts about the tsunamis and see an animation showing how tsunamis are created when there is a sudden displacement of water, caused by a change in elevation of the seafloor or by landslides. Observe how tsunamis impact coastal communities, and learn how research is critical for community preparedness.

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