In this activity, students use data on historical earthquakes to identify when and where they occurred and make predictions about future earthquakes.

By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

  • use data to plot a timeline of large earthquakes that have happened in New Zealand over the last 170 years
  • look for patterns in earthquake events but learn that it is not possible to predict when an earthquake will occur
  • plot the locations of historic earthquakes (using latitude and longitude) and relate them to the positions of known geological faults
  • calculate averages and estimate tenths.

Download the Word file (see link below) for:

  • introduction/background
  • what you need
  • what to do
  • Student handout: Looking for patterns
  • earthquakes in New Zealand over the last 170 years
  • earthquake timeline
  • plotting earthquakes using longitude and latitude co-ordinates
  • outline map of New Zealand
  • main active faults in New Zealand.


This activity was developed for the Earthquake Commission (EQC) and has been kindly provided for use on the Science Learning Hub.

    Published 17 November 2009, Updated 16 December 2016