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This science fair project was performed to measure the movement of fossils in soil subject to earthquake tremors. The experiment was done by exposing fossil bones to different levels of vibration.


The bone located in the middle of the container, which simulates the centre of a seismic zone, will experience the greatest vertical displacement.

Scientific Terms

Vibration convection, granules, seismic tremors, particles, friction, inertia


Vibration convection

Vibration convection occurs when granulated material like soil is subjected to seismic tremors or vibrations under the gravitational field. This causes the finer grains in soil to move downwards, while larger particles end up on top.

When a container of soil accelerates upwards due to seismic activity, its base lifts the entire mass of soil upwards. However, when the container falls back downwards due to gravity, friction between the sides of the container and the soil will also pull the soil down with the container. In this case, the soil nearer the sides of the container will fall more quickly than the soil in the middle of the container, causing the latter to appear to be raised.

Vibrations will also cause the lateral movement of grains in soil. This movement will cause collisions to occur between neighboring granules, which will then liquefy the soil. In turn, the soil will start moving and gain velocity.

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Complexity level:
Project cost ($):
Time required:
2 hours for preparation, 1 hour for experiment
Material availability:
Easily found. Fish tanks can be purchased from a pet store
Safety concerns: