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Investigation to Study the Origin of Earthquakes

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Investigation to Study the Origin of Earthquakes


        An earthquake occurs when forces inside the earth become strong enough to fracture large masses of rock and make them move.  This sudden break releases energy which travels through the earth as a series of shock waves.  Earthquakes occur at plate margins.

Earthquakes only occur in rocks which are brittle and which will snap or break suddenly.  When this happens earthquake waves are released.  They are like sound waves.  They do not occur in liquid or plastic materials.  No earthquakes originate in the mantle because it is a plastic material.


P Waves - Primary or push/pull waves

L Waves – Long waves

S Waves – Short waves

Brittle – Will break or rupture suddenly

Plastic –

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    Chew stick

    Bread sticks

    Chew bar

  • I plan to add weights to the above objects and record how they bend or deform up to breaking point.  The following apparatus will be used:

    2 retort stands

    Bosses and clamps

    1 meter ruler

    1 set of 100g masses with hanger

  • The apparatus was set up as shown in the diagram below.


Fair test

        To ensure a fair test is carried out each object will be clamped with the same length extending from the clamp (20cm).  The masses will attach at the same point on each object.  The same person will read the measurements each time.


Take care with weights.  The standard lab rules were also followed.

Carrying out the Experiment


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Only use 100g weights could be used, if we could have used more weights e.g. 10g, 20g etc, I could have got a more precise results table.  If we could have had more time we could have tested more materials.  We could have got more precise readings if we could use different measuring equipment e.g. Micrometer, Verneer calliper etc.

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