Learning and teaching resources on the fundamentals of plate tectonics and the basics of earthquakes are provided in this section. The treatment of plate tectonics emphasizes how the distribution and properties of plates and the motions at different kinds of plate boundaries explain global-scale patterns of earthquakes and volcanoes. Themes of the introduction to earthquakes are the nature of seismic waves, the geographic, depth, and size distribution of earthquakes, and the interplay of forces, faults, and friction that account for where and when earthquakes occur.
To efficiently learn about Plate Tectonics and Earthquakes using the TOTLE web site and to locate teaching resources on this topic, start by viewing the PowerPoint presentations. We recommend that first-time users download and view the presentations to understand the logical sequence of observations and concepts. These presentations are large files so downloading may require tens of seconds or even a minute. The first presentation you should view is Plate Tectonic PowerPoint Presentation that provides both an introduction to plate tectonics and links to teaching resources tailored for a middle school audience. You should then view the Earthquake Seismology PowerPoint Presentation that provides background information and links to teaching resources on fundamentals of earthquakes.
A PDF Guide to Plate Tectonics and Earthquakes is also available. This guide is an outline of the Plate Tectonic and Earthquake Seismology PowerPoint Presentations. The guide contains links to TOTLE Introduction to Plate Tectonics and Earthquakes teaching resources and a table of contents of teaching resources on this topic.
Animation shows the breakup of the supercontinent Pangea from 200 million years ago until the present.
This video shows how structural engineers in the San Francisco Bay Area have retrofitted existing structures and designed new structures to withstand ground shaking during earthquakes. Examples of new buildings designed with modern materials are presented. Several examples of building and highway retrofitting are also presented. The example of base isolation of San Francisco City Hall is a major feature of this video segment. This video was developed by the the US Geological Survey to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
Computer animation of the single-block “Earthquake Machine”, a model of the earthquake process using a wood, block, sandpaper, and rubber bands. This model shows no “Forces, Faults, and Friction” interact as elastic energy is slowly stored as the rubber back stretches and then rapidly released as the block jerks in an “earthquake”.
Computer animation of the two-block “Earthquake Machine”, a model of the earthquake process using a wood, block, sandpaper, and rubber bands. Connecting two blocks together begins to model interactions between adjacent patches on a fault. The two-block model demonstrates how motion on one area of a fault can increase stress on an adjacent area, bringing it closer to failure in an earthquake. In this animation, the behavior of the two-block model is graphed on a time – versus – distance plot.
Computer animation of the two-block “Earthquake Machine”, a model of the earthquake process using a wood, block, sandpaper, and rubber bands. Connecting two blocks together begins to model interactions between adjacent patches on a fault. The two-block model demonstrates how motion on one area of a fault can increase stress on an adjacent area, bringing it closer to failure in an earthquake. In this animation, the behavior of the two-block model is graphed on a time – versus – strain plot.
Open this file in your web browser to see world map of tectonic plates.
Open this file in your web browser to illustrate world plates, locations and depths of earthquakes, and locations of volcanoes.
Computer animation of operating principles for a seismograph that measures horizontal oscillations of the ground.
Animation developed by Professor Larry Braile to illustrate how Love waves (surface waves with horizontal motion) pass through surface layers of the Earth.
Full size QuickTime animation of motion of blocks across a normal (extensional) fault.
Small size QuickTime animation of motion of blocks across a normal (extensional) fault.
Full size animation of “oblique” fault with combination of vertical and horizontal motion.
Small size animation of motion of blocks across an “oblique fault” that has a combination of vertical and horizontal motions.
Animation by Professor Larry Braile of wave motions as a primary (P, pressure) wave passes through a material.
Computer animation of primary (pressure) wave traveling in a slinky.
Animation by Professor Larry Braile of motions as a Rayleigh wave passes through the surface layers of Earth.
Full size animation of block motions across a reverse (compressional) fault.
Small-size animation of block motion across a reverse (compressional) fault.
Animation by Professor Larry Braile of wave motions as a secondary (shear) wave passes through a solid.
Computer animation of a shear (secondary) wave traveling across a slinky.
Animation of plates moving apart at a spreading ocean ridge and horizontal motions across a transform fault that offsets the spreading ridge.
Animation of horizontal block motions across a strike-slip fault.
Small size animation of horizontal block motions across a strike-slip fault.
A birds-eye view of a strike slip fault with trees shaking during slip along the fault. Watch the apples drop!
This narrated animation shows ray paths and directions of particle motions for P, S, and surface waves traveling from a distant earthquake to a seismic station. A seismogram records the arrival times of these three types of seismic waves.
A simple animation of P, S, and surface waves traveling to 4 seismic stations from an earthquake. A “seismic cow” is included just for fun.
Animation explaining how arrival times of P and S waves that travel through Earth’s mantle and surface waves that travel around Earth’s perimeter were used to develop standard travel-time curves.
Computer animation of principles of operation of a seismograph that measures vertical ground oscillations.