Earthquakes

Practice exam questions written by Timothy H. Heaton,
Professor of Earth Sciences, University of South Dakota

Click the circle by an answer with the mouse, then click on the Submit button to get a response. You will be told if your answer is correct or not and will be given some comments.

  1. What is the point of origin of an earthquake?
    Epicenter
    Focus
    Foreshock
    Scarp
    Seismograph

  2. What is the point on the surface nearest the earthquake?
    Epicenter
    Focus
    Foreshock
    Scarp
    Seismograph

  3. What is an instrument used to study earthquakes?
    Epicenter
    Focus
    Foreshock
    Scarp
    Seismograph

  4. What is the standardized distance from an earthquake epicenter for measuring Richter magnitudes?
    0 km
    10 km
    100 km
    500 km
    1000 km

  5. What is the strongest magnitude earthquake ever measured on the Richter scale?
    5.5
    6.3
    6.8
    7.5
    8.6

  6. Where do most earthquakes occur?
    Along dikes
    Along faults
    Along folds
    Along joints
    Along unconformities

  7. What is the immediate energy source for earthquakes.
    Stored elastic energy in bent rock
    Stored elastic energy in compressed rock
    Stored heat energy from the earth's interior
    Stored heat energy from the sun

  8. In what order do earthquake waves arrive at seismic stations?
    P-waves, then S-waves, then surface waves
    S-waves, then P-waves, then surface waves
    S-waves, then surface waves, then P-waves
    Surface waves, then P-waves, then S-waves
    Surface waves, then S-waves, then P-waves

  9. Which earthquakes travel through the earth's mantle?
    Only P-waves
    Only P-waves and S-waves
    Only P-waves and surface waves
    Only S-waves
    P-waves, S-waves, and surface waves

  10. Which earthquakes travel through the earth's core?
    Only P-waves
    Only P-waves and S-waves
    Only P-waves and surface waves
    Only S-waves
    P-waves, S-waves, and surface waves

  11. Which waves cause the greatest amount of damage?
    All equal
    P-waves
    S-waves
    Surface waves

  12. Which waves cause a circular particle motion?
    P-waves
    S-waves
    Surface waves
    All of the above

  13. Which waves cause a particle motion that is back and forth in a direction parallel to the wave motion?
    P-waves
    S-waves
    Surface waves
    All of the above

  14. Which waves cause a particle motion that is back and forth in a direction perpendicular to the wave motion?
    P-waves
    S-waves
    Surface waves
    All of the above

  15. Which waves are called compression waves because they compress and extend the material they pass through?
    P-waves
    S-waves
    Surface waves
    All of the above

  16. Which waves are called shear waves because of the shear forces that they subject the rock to?
    P-waves
    S-waves
    Surface waves
    All of the above

  17. Which of the following is not associated with earthquake destruction?
    Fires
    High winds
    Mass wasting
    Trembling earth
    Tsunamis

  18. Approximately how fast do tsunami waves travel in the open ocean?
    100 km/hour
    1600 km/hour
    200 km/hour
    400 km/hour
    800 km/hour

  19. How does shaking ground cause soft sediment to liquify?
    It breaks the sediment particles into smaller pieces
    It evaporates water in the pores of the sediment
    It makes sediment particles fit more tightly together
    It melts the sediment
    It melts water in the pores of the sediment

  20. Which region of the earth has the most frequent earthquakes?
    Antarctic region
    Arctic region
    Atlantic region
    Indian region
    Pacific region

  21. In what country did the highest magnitude earthquake ever measured take place?
    Chile
    India
    Japan
    New Zealand
    United States

  22. What is the most earthquake prone state?
    California
    Florida
    Maine
    North Dakota
    Washington

Please report any problems or errors to Dr. Heaton.