Teachers’ questions for Eastern quakes


Before reading:

  1. What parts of the United States do you think are most likely to experience earthquakes?
  2. Explain what causes earthquakes.


During reading:

  1. How many earthquakes does the planet experience in a year, according to USGS estimates? Do we feel most of these? Why not?
  2. How do scientists know when an earthquake happens in a remote area? About how many quakes a year do seismometers detect?
  3. How often and where do quakes with a magnitude 8 or greater occur?
  4. Describe tectonic plates and how they cause earthquakes.
  5. Name three ways the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811 and 1812 changed the landscape.
  6. How far away were the New Madrid quakes felt?
  7. Give two reasons why powerful earthquakes in New Madrid today would be more damaging than those that occurred there 200 years ago?
  8. Describe one major difference between earthquakes in the eastern United States and quakes in the western United States, and explain how the geology of the two regions determines this difference.
  9. How far-reaching were the effects of the August 23, 2011, earthquake centered in Virginia?
  10. Did the quakes in Virginia and Missouri originate near the edge of tectonic plates? Is this unusual for quakes?
  11. Briefly describe three explanations scientists have proposed for why earthquakes occur far away from the edges of tectonic plates.

After reading:

  1. Explain why you think building codes should or should not be enforced in areas with low risk for earthquakes.


  1. Find your hometown on the USGS earthquake hazards map. Does the level of risk for quakes in your region surprise you? Why or why not?
  2. Do you know what to do in an earthquake? Research a few safety precautions to take before a quake hits and also how to keep safe during a quake.