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Quake Lecture Really Rocks

UCR program emphasizing hands-on science activities received assistance from nature as 5.4 quake rocks campus.

(July 30, 2008)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( - Students attending a lecture by UC Riverside's Professor David Oglesby on earthquakes got more than they expected from the lesson on ground waves as a 5.4 magnitude earthquake rumbled through the campus. The Community College Internship program, sponsored by UCR's Graduate School of Education's Copernicus Project, was in full swing Tuesday, July 29 when the quake hit at 11:42 a.m. near Chino Hills, California, about 30 miles west of Riverside.

Oglesby, an associate professor at UCR's Department of Earth Sciences and expert on earthquake physics, was explaining earthquake waves when he and 17 students had to take cover under their desks. The lecture resumed following the 25-second shake down and provided the students with a hands-on experience they are not likely to forget.

"The timing was so perfect that participants may have thought that we had installed special effects," said Raymond Hurst, Education & Business Liaison for the Copernicus project. "But when it really started shaking and the professor went under the table they realized it was serious."

As soon as the earthquake was over everyone got out from under the tables and continued the lecture.

"We were learning about the "P" and "S" waves and the difference between them and their sensations," said Thalia Torres, a second-year Liberal Studies student from Pasadena City College, who was attending the lecture. "Then we heard a shaking sound and we all looked at each other and the whole building shook and we ducked down and we asked 'is that an earthquake?' My heart was beating so fast it was really exciting. We were talking about it and the next thing we experienced it. What a great way to learn."

The UCR campus did not sustain any damage.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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