Earthquake and tsunami case studies

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Natural hazards, plate tectonics and earthquakes feature in the National Curriculum at key stage 2 and 3. They also appear in most GCSE (9−1) specifications and A level specifications.

This page links to our case studies of earthquakes and tsunamis that have taken place in recent years. They provide information, teaching ideas and links to resources and journal articles to support you in your teaching of earthquakes and tsunamis.

Case studies


For post-16 students Top Spec Geography: Tectonic Hazards, by Cameron Dunn and Martin Degg, explores the key tectonic processes, which are fundamental to our understanding of the geography of tectonic hazards at all scales, as well as the hazards of earthquakes, tsunami and volcanoes.

Journal articles

Making waves (Primary Geography, summer 2015) - Jason Cannons reports on a creative approach to help year 4 pupils explore tsunamis

Earthquake Vulnerability in the Middle East (Geography, spring 2005) - Martin Degg and Jacqueline Homan

This Changing World: The 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka: Destruction and recovery (Geography, spring 2007) - Daya Gunatillake

Disaster Timeline: An independent learning activity (Teaching Geography, autumn 2009) - James Broad and Wendy Phillips

The effects of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake and tsunami on the Algarve region, southern Portugal (Geography, summer 2008) - David K. Chester

Teaching About Disasters - Earthquake Week (Teaching Geography, summer 2005) - Justin Sharpe

Teaching About Disasters - Global catastrophe, global response (Teaching Geography, summer 2005) - Richard Baker

Teaching About Disasters - Linking lives through disaster and recovery (Teaching Geography, summer 2005) - Diane Swift

Teaching About Disasters - Rebuilding and recovery post-tsunami (Teaching Geography, summer 2005) - Andrew Hutchinson

Feature Editorial - Children and the tsunami (Teaching Geography, summer 2005) - Robert Barratt and Elisabeth Barratt Hacking


Geological Society factsheet - How do earthquakes happen? Where are they most likely to occur? How are they measured? Produced in 2011, this two page fact sheet gives you the most up-to-date information on earthquakes.

Earthquake summary posters - Each poster in the Earthquake Summary Poster series contains multiple panels showing the epicentral area, plate tectonic environment, earthquake history, and generalized seismic hazard of the region.

Happening Now! - one of the ideas in our ICT at Key Stage 4 project area. It includes tips for teaching about current events, with the 2008 UK earthquake used as an example, plus ideas for contrasting and comparing disasters.

British Geological Survey links to videos explaining earthquakes as well as consideration of earthquakes in the UK.

BGS - Earthquakes in the UK

BBC Newsround Earthquakes guide - answers the questions: Why do earthquakes happen, why are earthquakes dangerous, how often do they happen, and why is it dangerous after an earthquake.

Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre - information about current alerts

Universe Today - The Science Behind a Tsunami - useful Q&A and graphics

Education for Geo-Hazards - Earthquake! – how to survive an earthquake!

How Earthquakes Happen - Flash animation (or PDF) from the BBC

Earthquake app - ESRI mobile app which provides updates and maps of recent seismic activity.

10 Technologies That Help Buildings Resist Earthquakes - by

Plate tectonics

The following links help your students understand plate tectonics.

Maps and diagrams

Tectonic Plate Map (418k, JPEG) - USGS
Real-time Earthquakes and Plate Boundaries - USGS
Pacific Ring of Fire Map (311k, JPEG) - Wikimedia Commons


Tsunami - eduMedia
Tsunami Visualisation Collection - Carleton College Science Education Resource Centre
Subduction Zone Animation - The Scripps Institute of Oceanography
Interactive animations of plates, earthquakes and volcanoes - IRIS

Google Earth Layers

Tectonic Plates - Google Earth Hacks

Other links

USGS Earthquake Topics: GIS - using GIS to teach about earthquakes and plate tectonics
USGS Earthquake Topics: Lessons Online - teaching ideas for earthquakes, plate tectonics
Tsunami Data and Information - National Geophysical Data Centre