Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences
Saint Louis University

Introduction to Earthquakes
Sample Exam Questions 01

These questions are only examples of the types of questions you should be prepared to answer. You should study the notes from the WWW and notes from discussions that we had in class. Note that the word "study" is not the same as the expression "look over". I expect you to have read the notes and thought about the ideas and concepts that we discussed.

We covered some material in a different order than last year so some of these questions are from material that we have not covered (the gray text).

The potential essay questions are on another page (and may not be posted until Friday afternoon).

Place a "T" or an "F" or write "true" or "false" in the space provided. Each question is worth 1 point. Be neat, if I can’t tell what you wrote, it’s wrong.

  1. Peer-review is the foundation of successful pseudoscientific research.
  2. Radioactive decay of unstable elements is an important heat source inside Earth.
  3. Most basic scientific research in the U.S. is funded by private philanthropists, but applied research is funded by industry.
  4. Deep within our planet (Earth) lies a pure iron "core".
  5. Science is a collection of facts and figures that describe the way nature works.
  6. A light-year is the time it takes light to reach Andromeda, the galaxy closest to ours.
  7. Earthquake catastrophes are rare, but about once each century more than 1,000 people die in a single earthquake.
  8. An earthquake kit is another term for an emergency first-aid kit.
  9. Earthquakes occur in sequences which are usually, but not always, dominated by one large event.
  10. Science is a valuable tool for solving all of our problems and dilemmas.
  11. The width of a fault (the distance across the fracture) varies from fractions of a meter to thousands of kilometers.
  12. From decades of scouring Earth’s surface, geologists have collected rock samples of the material that exists at all depths of Earth.
  13. Scientific laws are static and unchanging.
  14. The 92 naturally occurring elements were manufactured during the initiation of the universe called the big bang.
  15. Humans are naturally skeptical &emdash; our judgment is seldom influenced by what we wish were true.

Multiple Choice -write the best answer in the space provided (Each question is worth 2 points).

  1. The ten largest earthquakes in U.S. history were located in
    a) Alaska b) California
    c) Hawaii d) Missouri/Arkansas
    e) All of the above
  2. The radius of Earth’s core (both the inner and outer) is approximately
    a) The radius of the Moon b) Half the size of the Earth
    c) 6,000 km d) 1,000 km
    e) All of the above
  3. A supernova is
    a) An explosion caused by two colliding galaxies.
    b) An explosion caused by two colliding stars.
    c) An explosion caused by the gravitational collapse of a small star.
    d) An explosion caused by the gravitational collapse of a large star.
    e) A really fast, old car.
  4. Suppose that you have a container full of 800 unstable atoms which have a half-life of 24 hours. Four days later, you will have
    a) 750 daughter atoms b) 400 daughter atoms
    c) 50 daughter atoms d) 25 daughter atoms
    e) No daughter atoms, only stable atoms undergo radioactive decay.
  5. Each year there are
    a) tens of earthquakes b) hundreds of earthquakes
    c) thousands of earthquakes d) light-years of earthquakes
    e) hundreds of thousands of earthquakes
  6. The periodic table is a(n)
    a) a chart of elements organized by relative abundance in the universe.
    b) a summary of the chemical properties of the elements.
    c) a chart outlining the history of chemical-element discovery.
    d) a chart used to estimate the temperature of stars by their spectra.
    e) All of the above.
  7. An isotope is
    a) an atom with a charge imbalance b) an atom
    c) the same thing as an ion d) a proton
    e) All of the above.
  8. Suppose that you flip a coin three times. What are the odds of obtaining three "heads"?
    a) 1 in 8 b) 1 in 3
    c) 3 in 8 d) 2 in 3
    e) 4 in 8 or 1 in 2
  9. Probability is a valuable tool to thwart the over-interpretation of
    a) argument by authority b) coincidence
    c) selective memory d) circular reasoning
    e) All of the above.
  10. In the context of Earth’s origin, the word fusion refers to
    a) a chemical bonding of two or more atoms
    b) an important source of Earth’s internal heat
    c) the joining of two or more atomic nuclei
    d) the splitting of two or more atomic nuclei
    e) All of the above.
  11. Support for an argument cannot be based on
    a) ignorance of the real answer b) inadequate evidence
    c) extreme interpretations of possible outcomes
    d) a non-sequitir e) All of the above.
  12. The belief that hospital emergency rooms are more busy on nights with a full moon is usually the result of
    a) Ad hominem b) non-sequitir
    c) Selective memory d) Over-reliance on authority
    e) All of the above.
  13. Which of the following is not usually a problem with sound scientific reasoning
    a) Theory influences observation b) The observer changes the observed
    c) Equipment constructs results c) Bold statements do not make truth
    e) All of the above.
  14. The continents are composed of
    a) most of the naturally occurring elements
    b) material differentiated from the mantle
    c) principally, eight common elements
    d) Many old (billions of years) rocks
    e) All of the above
  15. Evidence supporting the Big Bang hypothesis comes from
    a) The movement of galaxies b) the abundance of light elements
    c) the temperature of space, measured from electromagnetic background radiation
    d) a and b, but not c e) a, b, and c

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Prepared by: Charles J. Ammon