What Causes Earthquakes

6th - 12th Grade Textbook

L2 Earthquakes

L2 Earthquakes textbookL2 Earthquakes
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Learn what causes earthquakes in our Earthquakes textbook. The textbook includes 16 lessons on what is an earthquake, what causes earthquakes and the scales used to measure earthquakes. These are some of the lesson titles included in the book: Earthquake History, Seismic Waves, Faults, Mercalli Scale, Richter Scale and the San Andreas Fault.

Each book is designed to be completed in six weeks by students who finish three lessons per week. Each lesson contains 3-4 pages of written material, a quiz and a kids science activity. Students need to finish three of the Level 2 textbooks for a semester of high school science credit. Students wishing a year of science credit need to complete all six units.

Video Lessons

Myrna Martin introduces each lesson in the textbook on a video that can be purchased with our complete kits, packages and courses. Myrna covers not only the main points in the lesson she also includes extra information on the topic that is not contained in the written material.

Kids Science Activities

The kids science activities are fun and easy to do. They also increase a student's understanding of the information taught in the lesson. Examples of the activities include: Traveling Waves, Making Waves, Coffee Can Seismograph, Rock Blocks and Geo-Bingo. Each of these activities are designed to be created by students with materials commonly found around the home or in their neighborhood.


SE L2 Earthquakes Options

Student Edition eBook link
Level 2 Earthquakes Textbook

Teacher Edition eBook link
Level 2 Earthquakes Textbook

L2 Earthquakes teacher's books

Teacher’s Edition Level 2 Earthquakes Textbook

The teacher’s textbook is an exact copy of the student textbook. It includes the answers to the quizzes on each quiz page. A Teacher’s Notes page is located before each lesson with the following information

1. Lesson Content
2. Lesson Objectives
3. Activity information and materials needed
4. Vocabulary and definitions
5. Correlation with the National Science Standards


What causes earthquakes?

Crustal plate movement when tectonic plates collide, separate or slip past each other cause earthquakes. All earthquakes produce P waves and S waves. Only very large earthquakes produce Love waves and Rayleigh waves. The actual cause of earthquakes is rocks breaking apart and the energy stored in the rocks and moving away from the origin of the earthquake in all directions.

Moment magnitude scale

The moment magnitude of an earthquake is the total energy released by an earthquake. Seismologists have shown the magnitude of an earthquake is proportional to the energy released by the earthquake. The magnitude of a 7.0 earthquake releases about 1000 times more energy than a magnitude 5.0 earthquake. Large earthquake occur where the area of the fault that ruptures is much larger. The moment magnitude scale avoids older problems of gathering information from only ground motion and not looking at all aspects of what causes earthquakes.

1960 Chile earthquake

The 1960 Chile earthquake was the largest earthquake recorded in the 20th Century. It occurred on May 22, 1960 near Valdivia, Chile. The subducting Nazca Plate and the South America plate were locked prior to the earthquake. When the rocks ruptured along the Peru-Chile trench tsunamis were generated that traveled as far away as southeast Australia and north to the Aleutian Islands.

What causes large earthquakes? The size of the fault line is what causes large earthquake in subduction zones. Subduction zone earthquakes are often large because the locked plates can break over hundreds of kilometers. The 1960 Chile earthquake extended over an estimated 560-600 miles (900-1000 km) along the Nazca Plate. To learn more about 1960 Chile Earthquake click on this link.

What causes tsunamis

Plate movement is what causes earthquakes and tsunamis. Tsunamis are usually created during great earthquakes that occur in subduction zones. Both the Great Alaskan Earthquake of 1964 and the 1960 Chile earthquake produced tsunamis that traveled across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii and Japan. A megatsunami in the Gulf of Alaska occurred in 1958. An earthquake created a landslide into Lituya Bay a narrow fjord. The landslide displaced water to a height of 1,720 feet (524 meters) along the slopes of the fjord. Two fishermen in a boat survived to tell the tale of the megatsunami.


More Level 2 Earth Science Links

L2 Rock Cycle

L2 Volcanoes

L2 Earthquakes

Level 2 Course 1

Level 2 Textbooks

L2 Earth Science

L2 Space

L2 The Oceans

Level 2 Course 2

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  • More Charlotte Mason Education - A Home Schooling How-To Manual by Catherine Levison

All of our science materials have been used by homeschooling families throughout the United States since 1998.


Recommended by AFMS Junior Chair

Ring of Fire Science materials were recommended by Jim Brace-Thompson of the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies.  He found our materials contain a wealth of information for the junior members of the society. He wrote that our books are beautifully designed and illustrated with easy-to-follow instructions for kids.


Cambridge Who's Who named Myrna Martin their Science Textbook Publishing Professional of the Year. She is the author of all of our textbooks.  Read more about our family business.

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