Earthquakes. Seismic waves and seismograph

What do you know about earthquakes, how they are produced and how they are measured?

The online earthquake simulations on this page will help you understand how seismic waves are generated and act and how a seismograph works.

The online earthquake simulations on this page will help you understand how seismic waves are generated and act and how a seismograph works.

Earthquakes are natural phenomena that occur when there is a sudden release of energy in the earth’s crust. This release of energy can have devastating consequences, as it causes vibrations and movements on the Earth’s surface. Earthquakes occur mainly in areas of seismic activity, such as tectonic faults, where continental plates meet and move.

A device called a seismograph is used to measure the intensity of earthquakes. The most common measure used to quantify the magnitude of an earthquake is the Richter scale, which quantifies the energy released during the event. Smaller earthquakes, generally below 4 on the Richter scale, are imperceptible to people, while earthquakes of magnitude greater than 7 can cause significant damage. The modified Mercalli scale is also used to assess the intensity of an earthquake based on the effects observed at different locations.

The effects of an earthquake can be catastrophic. Sudden ground shaking can cause buildings to collapse, roads to crack, and bridges to collapse. In addition, earthquakes can generate tsunamis in coastal areas.

Earthquakes can also have secondary consequences. Landslides, fires, and seismic aftershocks are common after an earthquake. These events can hamper rescue efforts and increase the number of casualties and overall destruction.

To mitigate the effects of earthquakes, construction techniques have been developed to make buildings more resistant to seismic shaking. Building codes and seismic standards are implemented in many earthquake-prone regions to ensure that structures are designed to withstand seismic stress.

Seismic monitoring is an important tool for detecting and studying earthquakes. Networks of seismographs and other devices are used to measure and record ground motions. These data are used to better understand seismic activity, predict the occurrence of earthquakes, and alert at-risk populations.

Below are several simulations and other educational resources, which can also serve as very illustrative examples. In addition, a selection of books and courses is included to help you broaden your knowledge of this subject.

Seismic waves

Observe in this animation the differences between S-waves and P-waves.
Click here to start the simulation


Observe how a seismograph works. Modify the magnitude of the earthquake according to the Ritcher scale and see what happens.
Click here to start the simulation
Earth Science

Introduction to Deep Earth Science


Geoscience: the Earth and its Resources


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