Earthquake Glossary - acceleration
When you push on the gas pedal in the car or put on the brakes, the car goes faster or slower. When it is changing from one speed to another, it is accelerating (faster) or decelerating (slower). This change from one speed, or velocity, to another is called acceleration. Technically, then, acceleration is how much the velocity changes in a unit time.
During an earthquake when the ground is shaking, it also experiences acceleration. The peak acceleration is the largest increase in velocity recorded by a particular station during an earthquake.