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Locating the Epicenter

 The source of an earthquake is called the focus, which is an


exact location within Earth were seismic waves are generated
by sudden release of stored elastic energy. The epicenter is the
point on the surface of Earth directly above the focus. This is
the location that scientist calculate. The focus is directly
below, however, scientist can not determine its depth.

 To locate the position of an earthquakes epicenter, we need a


seismogram reading from at least three different seismograph
stations and a travel - time graph which shows the speed of
both P- and S-waves.
Locating the Epicenter
Step 1: 3 Seismogram Records
 Find the difference in arrival time between the P-wave and
the S-wave.
 To do this refer to each of the three seismogram readings and
record arrival times for P-wave and S-wave.

 One example is shown below:


P-Waves S-Waves

Arrival time Arrival time


of P-waves of S-waves
(23 Minutes) (27 Minutes)
Locating the Epicenter
Step 2: Record Difference in Arrival Times
 Subtract the arrival time of the S-wave from the arrival time
of the P-wave.
 27 minutes – 23 minutes = 4 minutes

 Thus, the S-wave arrived 4 minutes after the P-wave.


 Next you plot 4 minutes on the
travel-time graph.
Locating the Epicenter
Step 2: Record Difference in Arrival Times
 Subtract the arrival time of the S-wave from the arrival time
of the P-wave.
 27 minutes – 23 minutes = 4 minutes

 Thus, the S-wave arrived 4 minutes after the P-wave.


 Next you plot 4 minutes on the
travel-time graph.
 Slide the red line representing
4 minutes up between the P-wave
and S-wave lines until it fits
between the two lines.
Locating the Epicenter
Step 2: Record Difference in Arrival Times
 Subtract the arrival time of the P-wave from the arrival time
of the S-wave.
 27 minutes – 23 minutes = 4 minutes
 Thus, the S-wave arrived 4 minutes after the P-wave.
 Next you plot 4 minutes on the
travel-time graph.
 Slide the red line representing
4 minutes up between the P-wave
and S-wave lines until it fits
between the two lines.
 Read off the distance below.
Distance = 2500 km.
Locating the Epicenter
Step 3: Record Distance to the Epicenter:
 The S-P interval tells us the distance to the epicenter from each
seismograph station where the earthquake was recorded.

 The epicenter of the earthquake is


located 2500 kilometers from the
first seismograph station.

 You need to do the same procedure


for two other seismograph stations.

 Seismograph station 1 = 2500 km


Assume that the other readings are:
Seismograph station 2 = 3500 km
Seismograph station 3 = 4500km 3500 km 4500 km
Locating the Epicenter
Step 4: Use Triangulation to Pin Point the Epicenter:
 The distance to the epicenter from each seismograph station is;
Station #1 -- d1 = 2500km
Station #2 -- d2 = 3500km
Station #3 -- d3 = 4500km
 At each station we can draw a
circle on a map that has a
radius equal to the distance to
the epicenter from each
seismograph station.
 Three such circles will intersect
in a point that locates the
epicenter of the earthquake.
Sample Problem
The table below provides information collected at seismic stations A,
B, and C for the same earthquake.

Seismic P - Wave Arrival S - Wave Arrival Diffe rence in Distance to


Station Time Time Arrival Times Epicente r (km)
A 08:48:30 No S - waves
B 08:42:00 00:04:30
C 08:46:00 2000
3500

Answer:
(i) Why are no S - waves recorded at station A?
No S-waves are recorded at station “A” because station
“A” is located in a shadow zone, an area 103E - 143E
from the earthquake epicenter.
Sample Problem
The table below provides information collected at seismic stations A,
B, and C for the same earthquake.

Seismic P - Wave Arrival S - Wave Arrival Diffe rence in Distance to


Station Time Time Arrival Times Epicente r (km)
A 08:48:30 No S - waves
B 08:42:00 00:04:30
C 08:46:00 2000
3500

Answer:
(ii) What is the distance from station B to the epicenter?
The difference in arrival time between P-wave and S-wave is 4 min.
and 30 sec. (00:04:30). Graph this on the time scale (5 blocks) and
find the position between the P- and S-wave lines. Then read off the
distance on the x-axis as shown in the diagram.
Sample Problem
The table below provides information collected at seismic stations A,
B, and C for the same earthquake.

Seismic P - Wave Arrival S - Wave Arrival Diffe rence in Distance to


Station Time Time Arrival Times Epicente r (km)
A 08:48:30 No S - waves
B 08:42:00 00:04:30
C 08:46:00 2000
3500

Answer:
(iii) What is the arrival time of the S - wave for station C?
Locate 2000km on the diagram and draw a line straight up until you
intersect the S-wave line, (as indicated by blue arrow). Then draw a
line horizontally left to intersect the travel-time (y-axis) axis, and read
off the time (as indicated by the red arrow).
Arrival time of the S-wave at 2000km would be 7 minutes.