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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers About Earthquakes

What is an earthquake?

When on one of the earth’s fault line a rocks fractures and slides it results to the occurrence of an earthquake. During the earthquake energy in various firms can be released such as heat and seismic waves. The energy is produced as a result of the movements taking place along the length of the fault line. The shaking movements on the ground are caused by the Seismic waves as they move in all directions from the source.

Causes of earthquakes

The gradual deformation of the outermost layer of the earth in addition to the upper mantle is the main cause of an earthquake. The outer layer of the earth consists of tectonic plates which when they become brittle contribute to the occurrence of an earthquake. The rocks present below the tectonic plates experience cooling and heating due to the varying weather conditions. As a result of the heating and cooling effect the plates located adjacent to the rocks shift with a lot of tension which results to the deformation. The space covered by these plates as they shift is estimated to range between two to twelve centimeters annually. It is also possible for the tension to occur within an individual plate or between two adjacent tectonic plates. If the tension magnitude outweighs that of the rock surrounding the tectonic plates it will fracture abruptly and in the process discharging the accumulated vitality in form of an earthquake.

How damages are caused by earthquakes?

Majority of the damages incurred as a result of the earthquake are caused due to the breaking of the ground. The extent of the ground that will be broken is dependent of factors such as the material type, the distance of the area from the source of the earthquake, the magnitude of the tension being released, the faulting type and the pivotal depth. These aspects can be easily be estimated in areas that have widespread earthquake related activities. When the magnitude and duration of time taken is long the earthquake will be identified as a large earthquake and the vice versa is also accurate. The further the earthquake movements are from the source the slower and less the impact. The distance from the source influences the frequency of the movements. Areas close will experience rapid motions while those further away will experience slow motions. To determine the damage extent to the surroundings the ground motion frequency should be used.

What happens to the earth during earthquakes?

Many people assume that the earth opens up during an earthquake. The large hole that appears and swallows up individuals is only a misconception employed while making movies but in reality this is not the case. The aftermath of the earthquake may result to formation of fissures which are as a result of the soil settling down after the rigorously ground shaking. These cracks will not close up and neither are they faults.

Where do earthquakes occur?

It is possible for earthquakes to occur on any part of the planet but they are most widespread in areas that have active fault lines positioned on the earth’s major tectonic plates. Almost all the earthquakes that occur happen along these plates which occupy about a tenth of the earth’s surface. Some of the most active regions in the universe include the West Coast in Canada, and the Ring of Fire which is the area surrounding the Pacific Ocean.

What is the relationship between volcanoes and earthquakes?

Earthquake activities of areas adjacent and on the volcano can be observed to determine if there is a probability of an eruption occurring. The apparatus used to measure the earthquake impacts known as a Seismograph can detect large magnitudes of energy that might result into an explosion even miles away from the source. The plate tectonics are the geographical paradigm that can be used to illustrate the connection between volcanoes and earthquakes. However, it is not all earthquakes and volcanoes that are connected as there are regions with large masses of magma beneath but no volcanic eruption has occurred over the years.

Will more shocks be felt after a strong earthquake?

The aftermaths of the earthquake can still be felt for days or even hours after the earthquake has occurred. The shocks felt afterwards are minor and a normal occurrence as the earth is trying to reposition itself. The aftershocks are not consistent and vary depending on the region.

Can earthquakes be predicted?

Despite the inventions and innovations in technology predicting earthquakes is still not a possibility. There is no way to predict where, when or the magnitude of the earthquake. Scientists have gone to great lengths to compute a prediction method but there is still no known technique. The probability method can however be used in regions that frequently experience earthquakes to keep people in the suspected areas ready for when it does occur.