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Q:

# Why is there a minimum number of stations necessary to locate an epicenter?

A:

Finding the epicenter of an earthquake requires coordination between at least three seismographs separated by, ideally, hundreds of miles. This is because a seismograph is only capable of registering the strength and amplitude of an earthquake, which together give the distance to the epicenter, not its direction.

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A single seismograph can register the occurrence of an earthquake. Analysis of the waves can yield the distance between the sensor and the epicenter. This describes a circle with the seismograph at the center. A second seismograph, which can be hundreds or thousands of miles away, can generate a similar plot. The circles from these two stations cross each other at two points. Adding data from a third station pinpoints the epicenter as the only place where all three circles intersect.

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## Related Questions

• A:

Geologists locate the epicenter of an earthquake by taking measurements from three seismograms. These are measured at seismic stations and give the distance that the earthquake's waves traveled in order to reach the station. These three distances are then used to triangulate the epicenter.

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• A:

The epicenter of an earthquake is the point on the surface of the Earth directly above the point in the crust where a seismic rupture occurs. This origin point within the crust is called the hypocenter or focus.

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According to Smithsonian magazine, the Great Kanto earthquake was caused by a seismic fault line six miles below the floor of Sagumi Bay. Close to noon on September 1, 1923, a 60 square mile portion of the Philippine oceanic plate ruptured and smashed into the Eurasian continental plate. This event produced a burst of tectonic energy that traumatized Japan.