NCTM San Diego Presentation Summary

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This is the summary of a presentation given at the 74th Annual NCTM Meeting, 25-28 April 1996, San Diego, CA.

Earthquake Mathematics:
An Original Investigation for Teachers and Students

This presentation focuses on the who, what, why, where - and a little "when" - of the applied mathematics found in seismology. Our media routinely report, yet seldom explain, numbers which are not readily understood by math specialists. What is the meaning of a Richter Scale number? How is the epicenter identified? Who were the pioneers in this young science? How is the satellite GPS Positioning being used? Today we focus on California and the Pacific Rim "ring of fire" nations as being the site of major current quakes. We think the "big" one may hit the San Andreas Fault. But the worst earth-quakes in North America occurred south of St. Louis, Missouri in 1811-12, on the New Madrid Fault, forever changing the course of the Mississippi River. To add to the geographic breadth of interest, most of the city of Charleston, South Carolina was destroyed in 1886. Temblors in Anchorage, Alaska (1964) and Hawaii (1983), as well as in long dormant areas of east Tennessee (1994), all remind us that earthquakes are manifestations of plate tectonics shaping planet Earth.

See also supplementary material from this presentation.

Shirley B. Gray (California State University, Los Angeles, CA)

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The Math Forum * ** 26 March 1996