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Modeling Intraplate Earthquakes with Booby Trap

Intraplate earthquakes have long intrigued both students and educators. Classroom exploration of United State seismicity and hazards maps inevitably generates numerous questions from the learners regarding the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ). Unfortunately, many earth science teachers are not prepared to exploit this interest by discussing the ongoing debate regarding the seismic hazard in the region. Instead, they are likely to respond to such questions by stating only that these issues are not well understood. Such a response is likely the result of two factors; 1) many teachers lack adequate knowledge of the current understanding of intraplate seismic zones and 2) teachers lack adequate instruction tools to convey such content to students. To empower teachers, this article summarizes ideas about the mechanisms of intraplate seismic zones and maps this to a physical model useful for exploring this phenomena and the debate surrounding it.

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