How to Make an Earthquake Shaker Table

By Elizabeth Sobiski
Earthquakes can cause extensive damage.

Just how much damage an earthquake can do can be difficult to imagine. This simple shaker table will help show the effects of earthquakes on buildings and landscaping. With this shaker table, you can see the difference of P and S waves. P waves push and pull the layers of the Earth, through both solids and liquids. S waves move a little slower than P waves and can only move through solid objects. S waves move particles in a perpendicular motion to the way the wave itself is moving.

Staple the coffee can lid to the piece of wood with the lip of the lid away from the board. The lid should be centered so that the piece of wood does not touch the table beneath it. If the wood does tilt to one side, either choose a smaller board or use two can lids.

Place marbles in bottom of the box. You can use any size or amount of marbles that you want. Different sizes and amounts will produce different results during earthquake testing.

Place your board and attached lid into the box, capturing all the marbles in the can lid. Put the items you want to test on the wooden board. This could be blocks, a bowl of water or whatever else you want to use.

Simulate P waves (the first waves felt in a real earthquake). Slide your box back and forth rapidly on a solid surface. The faster you move, the more accurate the test. To make S waves, make side to side motions with the box. Here again, the faster you move, the more accurate the demonstration. As you lose momentum you will see the rolling motion of surface waves.

Tip

Test anything that comes to mind, whether it is miniature block houses, toy cars, landscape dioramas with water, or sand. Everything will react to the shaking differently.

About the Author

Elizabeth Sobiski has been writing professionally since 2005. She provides businesses such as Burdick and Lee Galleries, Clearwater Fishing Charters and Read Finder with custom content to keep their digital and print media fresh, informative and directed to their target audience. Sobiski holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Roosevelt University in Chicago.