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An earthquake (also known as a tremor or temblor) is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. Earthquakes are recorded with a seismometer, also known as a seismograph. The moment magnitude of an earthquake is conventionally reported, or the related and mostly obsolete Richter magnitude, with magnitude 3 or lower earthquakes being mostly imperceptible and magnitude 7 causing serious damage over large areas. Intensity of shaking is measured on the modified Mercalli scale.

At the Earth's surface, earthquakes manifest themselves by shaking and sometimes displacing the ground. When a large earthquake epicenter is located offshore, the seabed sometimes suffers sufficient displacement to cause a tsunami. The shaking in earthquakes can also trigger landslides and occasionally volcanic activity.

In its most generic sense, the word earthquake is used to describe any seismic event — whether a natural phenomenon or an event caused by humans — that generates seismic waves. Earthquakes are caused mostly by rupture of geological faults, but also by volcanic activity, landslides, mine blasts, and nuclear experiments. An earthquake's point of initial rupture is called its focus or hypocenter. The term epicenter refers to the point at ground level directly above the hypocenter.

s, 1963–1998]]

Contents

Naturally occurring earthquakes


Tectonic earthquakes will occur anywhere within the earth where there is sufficient stored elastic strain energy to drive fracture propagation along a fault plane. In the case of transform or convergent type plate boundaries, which form the largest fault surfaces on earth, they will move past each other smoothly and aseismically only if there are no irregularities or asperities along the boundary that increase the frictional resistance. Most boundaries do have such asperities and this leads to a form of stick-slip behaviour. Once the boundary has locked, continued relative motion between the plates leads to increasing stress and therefore, stored strain energy in the volume around the fault surface. This continues until the stress has risen sufficiently to break through the asperity, suddenly allowing sliding over the locked portion of the fault, releasing the stored energy. This energy is released as a combination of radiated elastic strain seismic waves, frictional heating of the fault surface, and cracking of the rock, thus causing an earthquake. This process of gradual build-up of strain and stress punctuated by occasional sudden earthquake failure is referred to as the Elastic-rebound theory. It is estimated that only 10 percent or less of an earthquake's total energy is radiated as seismic energy. Most of the earthquake's energy is used to power the earthquake fracture growth or is converted into heat generated by friction. Therefore, earthquakes lower the Earth's available elastic potential energy and raise its temperature, though these changes are negligible compared to the conductive and convective flow of heat out from the Earth's deep interior.[1]

Earthquake fault types

There are three main types of fault that may cause an earthquake: normal, reverse (thrust) and strike-slip. Normal and reverse faulting are examples of dip-slip, where the displacement along the fault is in the direction of dip and movement on them involves a vertical component. Normal faults occur mainly in areas where the crust is being extended such as a divergent boundary. Reverse faults occur in areas where the crust is being shortened such as at a convergent boundary. Strike-slip faults are steep structures where the two sides of the fault slip horizontally past each other ; transform boundaries are a particular type of strike-slip fault. Many earthquakes are caused by movement on faults that have components of both dip-slip and strike-slip; this is known as oblique slip.

Earthquakes away from plate boundaries

Where plate boundaries occur within continental lithosphere, deformation is spread out a over a much larger area than the plate boundary itself. In the case of the San Andreas fault continental transform, many earthquakes occur away from the plate boundary and are related to strains developed within the broader zone of deformation caused by major irregularities in the fault trace (e.g. the “Big bend” region). The Northridge earthquake was associated with movement on a blind thrust within such a zone. Another example is the strongly oblique convergent plate boundary between the Arabian and Eurasian plates where it runs through the northwestern part of the Zagros mountains. The deformation associated with this plate boundary is partitioned into nearly pure thrust sense movements perpendicular to the boundary over a wide zone to the southwest and nearly pure strike-slip motion along the Main Recent Fault close to the actual plate boundary itself. This is demonstrated by earthquake focal mechanisms. [2]

All tectonic plates have internal stress fields caused by their interactions with neighbouring plates and sedimentary loading or unloading (e.g. deglaciation). These stresses may be sufficient to cause failure along existing fault planes, giving rise to intraplate earthquakes.[3]

Shallow-focus and deep-focus earthquakes

The majority of tectonic earthquakes originate at the ring of fire in depths not exceeding tens of kilometers. Earthquakes occurring at a depth of less than 70 km are classified as 'shallow-focus' earthquakes, while those with a focal-depth between 70 and 300 km are commonly termed 'mid-focus' or 'intermediate-depth' earthquakes. In subduction zones, where older and colder oceanic crust descends beneath another tectonic plate, deep-focus earthquakes may occur at much greater depths (ranging from 300 up to 700 kilometers).[4] These seismically active areas of subduction are known as Wadati-Benioff zones. Deep-focus earthquakes occur at a depth at which the subducted lithosphere should no longer be brittle, due to the high temperature and pressure. A possible mechanism for the generation of deep-focus earthquakes is faulting caused by olivine undergoing a phase transition into a spinel structure.[5]

Earthquakes and volcanic activity

Earthquakes often occur in volcanic regions and are caused there, both by tectonic faults and the movement of magma in volcanoes. Such earthquakes can serve as an early warning of volcanic eruptions, like during the Mount St. Helens eruption of 1980.[6] Earthquake swarms serve as markers for the location of the flowing magma throughout the volcanoes. In the United States, these are then recorded by seismometers and tiltimeters (a device which measures the ground slope) and used as sensors to predict imminent or upcoming eruptions.[7]

Earthquake clusters

Most earthquakes form part of a sequence, related to each other in terms of location and time.[8] Most earthquake clusters consist of small tremors which cause little to no damage, but there is a theory that earthquakes repeat themselves.[9]

Aftershocks

An aftershock is an earthquake that occurs after a previous earthquake, the mainshock. An aftershock is in the same region of the main shock but always of a smaller magnitude. If an aftershock is larger than the main shock, the aftershock is redesignated as the main shock and the original main shock is redesignated as a foreshock. Aftershocks are formed as the crust around the displaced fault plane adjusts to the effects of the main shock.[8]

Earthquake swarms

Earthquake swarms are sequences of earthquakes striking in a specific area within a short period of time. They are different from earthquakes followed by a series of aftershocks by the fact that no single earthquake in the sequence is obviously the main shock, therefore none have notable higher magnitudes than the other. An example of an earthquake swarm is the 2004 activity at Yellowstone National Park.[10]

Earthquake storms

Sometimes a series of earthquakes occur in a sort of earthquake storm, where the earthquakes strike a fault in clusters, each triggered by the shaking or stress redistribution of the previous earthquakes. Similar to aftershocks but on adjacent segments of fault, these storms occur over the course of years, and with some of the later earthquakes as damaging as the early ones. Such a pattern was observed in the sequence of about a dozen earthquakes that struck the North Anatolian Fault in Turkey in the 20th century and has been inferred for older anomalous clusters of large earthquakes in the Middle East.[11][12]

Size and frequency of occurrence

Minor earthquakes occur nearly constantly around the world in places like California and Alaska in the U.S., as well as in Guatemala. Chile, Peru, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, the Azores in Portugal, Turkey, New Zealand, Greece, Italy, and Japan, but earthquakes can occur almost anywhere, including New York City, London, and Australia.[13] Larger earthquakes occur less frequently, the relationship being exponential; for example, roughly ten times as many earthquakes larger than magnitude 4 occur in a particular time period than earthquakes larger than magnitude 5. In the (low seismicity) United Kingdom, for example, it has been calculated that the average recurrences are: an earthquake of 3.7 - 4.6 every year, an earthquake of 4.7 - 5.5 every 10 years, and an earthquake of 5.6 or larger every 100 years. [14] This is an example of the Gutenberg-Richter law.

The number of seismic stations has increased from about 350 in 1931 to many thousands today. As a result, many more earthquakes are reported than in the past, but this is because of the vast improvement in instrumentation, rather than an increase in the number of earthquakes. The USGS estimates that, since 1900, there have been an average of 18 major earthquakes (magnitude 7.0-7.9) and one great earthquake (magnitude 8.0 or greater) per year, and that this average has been relatively stable.[15] In recent years, the number of major earthquakes per year has decreased, although this is thought likely to be a statistical fluctuation rather than a systematic trend. More detailed statistics on the size and frequency of earthquakes is available from the USGS.[16]

Most of the world's earthquakes (90%, and 81% of the largest) take place in the 40,000-km-long, horseshoe-shaped zone called the circum-Pacific seismic belt, also known as the Pacific Ring of Fire, which for the most part bounds the Pacific Plate.[17][18] Massive earthquakes tend to occur along other plate boundaries, too, such as along the Himalayan Mountains.

With the rapid growth of mega-cities such as Mexico City, Tokyo or Tehran, in areas of high seismic risk, some seismologists are warning that a single quake may claim the lives of up to 3 million people.[19][20]

Induced seismicity

While most earthquakes are caused by movement of the Earth's tectonic plates, human activity can also produce earthquakes. Four main reasons contribute to this phenomenon: constructing large dams and buildings, drilling and injecting liquid into wells, and by coal mining and oil drilling.[21] Perhaps the best known example is the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China's Sichuan Province in May; this tremor resulted in 69,227 fatalities and is the 19th deadliest earthquake of all time. The Zipingpu Dam is believed to have fluctuated the pressure of the fault 1,650 feet (503 m) away; this pressure probably increased the power of the earthquake and fastened the rate of movement for the fault.[22] The greatest earthquake in Australia's history was also induced by humanity, through coal mining. The city of Newcastle was built over a large sector of coal mining areas. The earthquake was spawned from a fault which reactivated due to the millions of tonnes of rock removed in the mining process.[23]

How to measure and locate an earthquake

Earthquakes can be recorded by seismometers up to great distances, because seismic waves travel through the whole Earth's interior. The absolute magnitude of a quake is conventionally reported by numbers on the Moment magnitude scale (formerly Richter scale, magnitude 7 causing serious damage over large areas), whereas the felt magnitude is reported using the modified Mercalli scale (intensity II-XII).

Every tremor produces different types of seismic waves which travel through rock with different velocities: the longitudinal P-waves (shock- or pressure waves), the transverse S-waves (both body waves) and several surface waves (Rayleigh and Love waves). The propagation velocity of the seismic waves ranges from approx. 3 km/s up to 13 km/s, depending on the density and elasticity of the medium. In the Earths interior the shock- or P waves travel much more faster than the S waves (approx. relation 1,7 : 1). The differences in travel time from the epicentre to the observatory are a measure of the distance and can be used to image both sources of quakes and structures within the Earth. Also the depth of the hypocenter can be computed roughly.

In solid rock P-waves travel at about 6 to 7 km per second; the velocity increases within the deep mantle to ~13 km/s. The velocity of S-waves ranges from 2-3 km/s in light sediments and 4-5 km/s in the Earths crust up to 7 km/s in the deep mantle. As a consequence, the first waves of a distant earth quake arrive at an observatory via the Earths mantle.

Rule of thumb: On the average, the kilometer distance to the earthquake is the number of seconds between the P and S wave times 8 [1]. Slight deviations are caused by inhomogenities of subsurface structure. By such analyses of seismograms the Earth's core was located 1913 by Beno Gutenberg.

Effects/impacts of earthquakes

in ruins and in flames after the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. A tsunami overwhelms the ships in the harbor.]]

There are many effects of earthquakes including, but not limited to the following:

Shaking and ground rupture

Shaking and ground rupture are the main effects created by earthquakes, principally resulting in more or less severe damage to buildings or other rigid structures. The severity of the local effects depends on the complex combination of the earthquake magnitude, the distance from epicenter, and the local geological and geomorphological conditions, which may amplify or reduce wave propagation.[24] The ground-shaking is measured by ground acceleration.

Specific local geological, geomorphological, and geostructural features can induce high levels of shaking on the ground surface even from low-intensity earthquakes. This effect is called site or local amplification. It is principally due to the transfer of the seismic motion from hard deep soils to soft superficial soils and to effects of seismic energy focalization owing to typical geometrical setting of the deposits.

Ground rupture is a visible breaking and displacement of the Earth's surface along the trace of the fault, which may be of the order of several metres in the case of major earthquakes. Ground rupture is a major risk for large engineering structures such as dams, bridges and nuclear power stations and requires careful mapping of existing faults to identify any likely to break the ground surface within the life of the structure.[25]

Landslides and avalanches

Landslides are a major geologic hazard because they can happen at any place in the world, much like earthquakes. Severe storms, earthquakes, volcanic activity, coastal wave attack, and wildfires can all produce slope instability. Landslide danger may be possible even though emergency personnel are attempting rescue.[26]

Fires

]] Following an earthquake, fires can be generated by break of the electrical power or gas lines. In the event of water mains rupturing and a loss of pressure, it may also become difficult to stop the spread of a fire once it has started. For example, the deaths in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake were caused more by the fires than by the earthquake itself.[27]

Soil liquefaction

Soil liquefaction occurs when, because of the shaking, water-saturated granular material (such as sand) temporarily loses its strength and transforms from a solid to a liquid. Soil liquefaction may cause rigid structures, as buildings or bridges, to tilt or sink into the liquefied deposits. This can be a devastating effect of earthquakes. For example, in the 1964 Alaska earthquake, many buildings were sunk into the ground by soil liquefaction, eventually collapsing upon themselves.[28]

Tsunami

]]

Tsunamis are long-wavelength, long-period sea waves produced by an sudden or abrupt movement of large volumes of water. In the open ocean, the distance between wave crests can surpass 100 kilometers, and the wave periods can vary from five minutes to one hour. Such tsunamis travel 600-800 kilometers per hour, depending on water depth. Large waves produced by an earthquake or a submarine landslide can overrun nearby coastal areas in a matter of minutes. Tsunamis can also travel thousands of kilometers across open ocean and wreak destruction on far shores hours after the earthquake that generated them.[29]

Ordinarily, subduction earthquakes under magnitude 7.5 on the Richter scale do not cause tsunamis, although some instances of this have been recorded. Most destructive tsunamis are caused by earthquakes of magnitude 7.5 or more.[29]

Floods

A flood is an overflow of any amount of water that reaches land.[30] Floods usually occur because of the volume of water within a body of water, such as a river or lake, exceeds the total capacity of the formation, and as a result some of the water flows or sits outside of the normal perimeter of the body. However, floods may be secondary effects of earthquakes, if dams are damaged. Earthquakes may cause landslips to dam rivers, which then collapse and cause floods.[31]

The terrain below the Sarez Lake in Tajikistan is in danger of catastrophic flood if the landslide dam formed by the earthquake, known as the Usoi Dam, were to fail during a future earthquake. Impact projections suggest the flood could affect roughly 5 million people.[32]

Human impacts

Earthquakes may result in disease, lack of basic necessities, loss of life, higher insurance premiums, general property damage, road and bridge damage, and collapse of buildings or destabilization of the base of buildings; this may lead to collapse in future earthquakes. Earthquakes can also precede volcanic eruptions, which cause further problems; for example, substantial crop damage, like in the "Year Without a Summer" (1816).[33]

Preparation

In order to determine the likelihood for future seismic activity, geologists and other scientists examine the rock of an area to determine if the rock appears to be "strained". Studying the faults of an area to study the buildup time it takes for the fault to build up stress sufficient for an earthquake also serves as an effective predicition technique.[34] Measurements of the amount of pressure which collocates on the fault line each year, time passed since the last major temblor, and the energy and power of the last earthquake are made.[34] Together the facts allow scientists to determine how much pressure it takes for the fault to generate an earthquake. Though this method is useful, it has only been implemented on California's San Andreas Fault.[34]

Today, there are ways to protect and prepare possible sites of earthquakes from severe damage, through the following processes: earthquake engineering, earthquake preparedness, household seismic safety, seismic retrofit (including special fasteners, materials, and techniques), seismic hazard, mitigation of seismic motion, and earthquake prediction.

History

Pre-Middle Ages

From the lifetime of Greek Anaxagoras to the 14th century, earthquakes were attributed to "air (vapors) in the cavities of the Earth".[35] Tales of Milet, who lived from 625-547 (BCE) was the only documented person who believed that earthquakes were caused by tension between the earth and water.[35] Other theories existed, including Greek philosopher Anaxamines of Milet's (585-526 BCE) beliefs that short incline episodes of dryness and wetness caused seismic activity. Greek philosopher Democritus (460-371BCE) blamed water in general for earthquakes.[35] Pliny the Elder called earthquakes "underground thunderstorms".[35]

Earthquakes in culture

Mythology and religion

In Norse mythology, earthquakes were explained as the violent struggling of the god Loki. When Loki, god of mischief and strife, murdered Baldr, god of beauty and light, he was punished by being bound in a cave with a poisonous serpent placed above his head dripping venom. Loki's wife Sigyn stood by him with a bowl to catch the poison, but whenever she had to empty the bowl the poison would drip on Loki's face, forcing him to jerk his head away and thrash against his bonds, causing the earth to tremble.[36]

In Greek mythology, Poseidon was the cause and god of earthquakes. When he was in a bad mood, he would strike the ground with a trident, causing this and other calamities. He also used earthquakes to punish and inflict fear upon people as revenge.[37]

Popular culture

In modern popular culture, the portrayal of earthquakes is shaped by the memory of great cities laid waste, such as Kobe in 1995 or San Francisco in 1906.[38] Fictional earthquakes tend to strike suddenly and without warning.[38] For this reason, stories about earthquakes generally begin with the disaster and focus on its immediate aftermath, as in Short Walk to Daylight (1972), The Ragged Edge (1968) or Aftershock: Earthquake in New York (1998).[38] A notable example is Heinrich von Kleist's classic novella, The Earthquake in Chile, which describes the destruction of Santiago in 1647. Haruki Murakami's short fiction collection, After the Quake, depicts the consequences of the Kobe earthquake of 1995.

The most popular single earthquake in fiction is the hypothetical "Big One" expected of California's San Andreas Fault someday, as depicted in the novels Richter 10 (1996) and Goodbye California (1977) among other works.[38] Jacob M. Appel's widely-anthologized short story, A Comparative Seismology, features a con artist who convinces an elderly woman that an apocalyptic earthquake is imminent. [39] In Pleasure Boating in Lituya Bay, one of the stories in Jim Shepard's Like You'd Understand, Anyway, the "Big One" leads to an even more devastating tsunami.

See also

References

  1. ^ Spence, William; S. A. Sipkin, G. L. Choy (1989). "Measuring the Size of an Earthquake". United States Geological Survey. http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learning/topics/measure.php. Retrieved on 2006-11-03. 
  2. ^ Talebian, M. Jackson, J. 2004. A reappraisal of earthquake focal mechanisms and active shortening in the Zagros mountains of Iran. Geophysical Journal International, 156, pages 506-526
  3. ^ Noson, Qamar, and Thorsen (1988). Washington State Earthquake Hazards: Washington State Department of Natural Resources. Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources Information Circular 85. 
  4. ^ "M7.5 Northern Peru Earthquake of 26 September 2005" (pdf). USGS. ftp://hazards.cr.usgs.gov/maps/sigeqs/20050926/20050926.pdf. Retrieved on 2008-08-01. 
  5. ^ Greene, H. W.; Burnley, P. C. (26 October 1989). "A new self-organizing mechanism for deep-focus earthquakes". Nature 341: 733–737. doi:10.1038/341733a0. 
  6. ^ Foxworthy and Hill (1982). Volcanic Eruptions of 1980 at Mount St. Helens, The First 100 Days: USGS Professional Paper 1249. 
  7. ^ Watson, John; Watson, Kathie (January 7, 1998). "Volcanoes and Earthquakes". United States Geolocical Survey. http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/earthq1/volcano.html. Retrieved on May 9, 2009. 
  8. ^ a b "What are Aftershocks, Foreshocks, and Earthquake Clusters?". http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/step/explain.php. 
  9. ^ "Repeating Earthquakes". United States Geological Survey. January 29, 2009. http://earthquake.usgs.gov/research/parkfield/repeat.php. Retrieved on May 11, 2009. 
  10. ^ "Earthquake Swarms at Yellowstone". USGS. http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/yvo/2004/Apr04Swarm.html. Retrieved on 2008-09-15. 
  11. ^ Amos Nur (2000). "Poseidon’s Horses: Plate Tectonics and Earthquake Storms in the Late Bronze Age Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean". Journal of Archaeological Science 27: 43–63. doi:10.1006/jasc.1999.0431. ISSN 0305-4403. http://water.stanford.edu/nur/EndBronzeage.pdf. 
  12. ^ "Earthquake Storms". Horizon. 9pm 1 April 2003. http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/2003/earthquakestorms.shtml. Retrieved on 2007-05-02. 
  13. ^ "Earthquake Hazards Program". USGS. http://earthquake.usgs.gov/. Retrieved on 2006-08-14. 
  14. ^ Seismicity and earthquake hazard in the UK
  15. ^ "Common Myths about Earthquakes". USGS. http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learning/faq.php?categoryID=6&faqID=110. Retrieved on 2006-08-14. 
  16. ^ "Earthquake Facts and Statistics: Are earthquakes increasing?". USGS. http://neic.usgs.gov/neis/eqlists/eqstats.html. Retrieved on 2006-08-14. 
  17. ^ "Historic Earthquakes and Earthquake Statistics: Where do earthquakes occur?". USGS. http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learning/faq.php?categoryID=11&faqID=95. Retrieved on 2006-08-14. 
  18. ^ "Visual Glossary - Ring of Fire". USGS. http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learning/glossary.php?termID=150. Retrieved on 2006-08-14. 
  19. ^ Global urban seismic risk
  20. ^ Earthquake safety in Iran and other developing countries
  21. ^ Madrigal, Alexis (4 June 2008). "Top 5 Ways to Cause a Man-Made Earthquake". Wired News (CondéNet). http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/06/top-5-ways-that.html. Retrieved on 2008-06-05. 
  22. ^ "How Humans Can Trigger Earthquakes". National Geographic. February 10, 2009. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/02/photogalleries/humans-cause-earthquakes/photo2.html. Retrieved on April 24, 2009. 
  23. ^ Brendan Trembath (January 9, 2007). "Researcher claims mining triggered 1989 Newcastle earthquake". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2007/s1823833.htm. Retrieved on April 24, 2009. 
  24. ^ On Shaky Ground, Association of Bay Area Governments, San Francisco, reports 1995,1998 (updated 2003)
  25. ^ Guidelines for evaluating the hazard of surface fault rupture, California Geological Survey
  26. ^ "Natural Hazards - Landslides". USGS. http://www.usgs.gov/hazards/landslides/. Retrieved on 2008-09-15. 
  27. ^ "The Great 1906 San Francisco earthquake of 1906". USGS. http://earthquake.usgs.gov/regional/nca/1906/18april/index.php. Retrieved on 2008-09-15. 
  28. ^ "Historic Earthquakes -1946 Anchorage Earthquake". USGS. http://earthquake.usgs.gov/regional/states/events/1964_03_28.php. Retrieved on 2008-09-15. 
  29. ^ a b Noson, Qamar, and Thorsen (1988). Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources Information Circular 85. Washington State Earthquake Hazards. 
  30. ^ MSN Encarta Dictionary. Flood. Retrieved on 2006-12-28.
  31. ^ "Notes on Historical Earthquakes". British Geological Survey. http://www.quakes.bgs.ac.uk/earthquakes/historical/historical_listing.htm. Retrieved on 2008-09-15. 
  32. ^ "Fresh alert over Tajik flood threat". BBC News. 2003-08-03. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/3120693.stm. Retrieved on 2008-09-15. 
  33. ^ "Facts about The Year Without a Summer". National Geographic UK. http://www.discoverychannel.co.uk/earth/year_without_summer/facts/index.shtml. 
  34. ^ a b c Watson, John; Watson, Kathie (October 23, 1997). "Predicting Earthquakes". http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/earthq1/predict.htm. Retrieved on May 9, 2009. 
  35. ^ a b c d "Earthquakes". Encyclopedia of World Environmental History. 1. Encyclopedia of World Environmental History. 2003. pp. 358-364. 
  36. ^ Sturluson, Snorri (1220). Prose Edda. 
  37. ^ Sellers, Paige (1997-03-03). "Poseidon". Encyclopedia Mythica. http://www.pantheon.org/articles/p/poseidon.html. Retrieved on 2008-09-02. 
  38. ^ a b c d Van Riper, A. Bowdoin (2002). Science in popular culture: a reference guide. Westport: Greenwood Press. pp. 60. ISBN 0–313–31822–0. 
  39. ^ JM Appel. A Comparative Seismology. Weber Studies (first publication), Volume 18, Number 2.

External links

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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

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Wikipedia

Pronunciation

Noun

Singular
earthquake

Plural
earthquakes

earthquake (plural earthquakes)

  1. A shaking of the Earth, caused by volcanic activity or movement around geologic faults.
  2. A natural disaster.

Synonyms

Translations

Related terms

See also


Simple English

[[File:|thumb|250px|Damage from the San Francisco, California earthquake in 1906.]] [[File:|thumb|right|250px|San Francisco Bay earthquake prediction.]] [[File:|thumb|250px|A replica of Zhang Heng's (78–139 AD) seismometer. It employed a pendulum sensitive to ground tremors; placed in Luoyang in 133, it detected an earthquake 400 to 500 km (250 to 310 mi) away in Gansu]] An earthquake is a violent movement of the rocks in the Earth's crust. Earthquakes are usually quite brief, but may repeat over a long period of time.

There are large earthquakes and small earthquakes. Big earthquakes can take down buildings and cause death and injury. The study of earthquakes is called seismology.[1]

When the earth moves in an earthquake, it can cause waves in the ocean, and if a wave grows large enough, it's called a "tsunami". A tsunami can do just as much death and destruction as an earthquake. Landslides can happen, too. This is a very important part of the Earth's cycle.

Earthquakes are measured with a seismometer. The magnitude of an earthquake, and the intensity of shaking, is measured on a numerical scale. On the scale, 3 or less is scarcely noticeable, and magnitude 7 (or more) causes damage over a wide area.

The ancient Chinese also used a device that looked like a jar with dragons on the top surrounded by frogs with their mouths open. When an earthquake occurred, a ball fitted into each dragon's mouth would drop out of the dragon's mouth into the frog's. The position of the frog which received a ball indicated the direction of the earthquake.

Contents

Causes of earthquakes

File:Fault
Fault types

Earthquakes are caused by tectonic movements in the Earth's crust. The main cause is that when tectonic plates collide, one rides over the other, causing orogeny (mountain building), earthquakes and volcanoes. See plate tectonics.

The boundaries between moving plates form the largest fault surfaces on Earth. When they stick, relative motion between the plates leads to increasing stress. This continues until the stress rises and breaks, suddenly allowing sliding over the locked portion of the fault, releasing the stored energy.

Earthquake fault types

There are three main types of fault that may cause an earthquake: normal, reverse (thrust) and strike-slip. Normal faults occur mainly in areas where the crust is being extended. Reverse faults occur in areas where the crust is being shortened. Strike-slip faults are steep structures where the two sides of the fault slip horizontally past each other.

Earthquake clusters

Most earthquakes form part of a sequence, related to each other in terms of location and time.[2] Most earthquake clusters consist of small tremors which cause little to no damage, but there is a theory that earthquakes can recur in a regular pattern.[3]

Aftershocks

An aftershock is an earthquake that occurs after a previous earthquake, the mainshock. An aftershock is in the same region of the main shock but always of a smaller magnitude. Aftershocks are formed as the crust adjusts to the effects of the main shock.[2]

Earthquake swarms

Earthquake swarms are sequences of earthquakes striking in a specific area within a short period of time. They are different from earthquakes followed by a series of aftershocks by the fact that no single earthquake in the sequence is obviously the main shock, therefore none have notable higher magnitudes than the other. An example of an earthquake swarm is the 2004 activity at Yellowstone National Park.[4]

Earthquake storms

Sometimes a series of earthquakes occur in a sort of earthquake storm, where the earthquakes strike a fault in clusters, each triggered by the shaking or stress redistribution of the previous earthquakes. Similar to aftershocks but on adjacent segments of fault, these storms occur over the course of years, and with some of the later earthquakes as damaging as the early ones. Such a pattern occurred in Turkey in the 20th century.[5][6]

Earthquake-proofing

Some countries, such as Japan or parts of a country like California in the United States, have a lot of earthquakes. In these places it is a good practice to build houses and other buildings so they will not collapse when there is an earthquake. This is called seismic design or "earthquake-proofing".
File:Haiti National Palace
The Haitian National Palace after at the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

For many years earthquakes have occurred. That is why there are earthquake proof buildings. The ability of a building to withstand the stress of an earthquake depends upon its type of construction, shape, mass distribution, and rigidity. Different combinations are used. Different shapes of buildings such as square, rectangular, and shell buildings can withstand earthquakes far better than skyscrapers. To reduce stress, a building's ground floor can be supported by extremely rigid, hollow columns, while the rest of the building is supported by flexible columns located inside the hollow columns. A different method is to use rollers or rubber pads to separate the base columns from the ground, allowing the columns to shake parallel during an earthquake.

To help prevent a roof from collapsing you can make your roof out of light-weight materials. Outdoor walls can be made with stronger and more reinforced materials such as steel or reinforced concrete. During an earthquake flexible windows may help that can hold the windows together so they don’t break.

References

  1. Earth Science. Austin, Texas 78746-6487: Holt, Rinehart Winston. 2001. ISBN 0-03-055667-8. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "What are aftershocks, foreshocks, and earthquake clusters?". http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/step/explain.php. 
  3. "Repeating earthquakes". United States Geological Survey. January 29, 2009. http://earthquake.usgs.gov/research/parkfield/repeat.php. Retrieved May 11, 2009. 
  4. "Earthquake swarms at Yellowstone". USGS. http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/yvo/2004/Apr04Swarm.html. Retrieved 2008-09-15. 
  5. Amos Nur (2000). "Poseidon’s horses: plate tectonics and earthquake storms in the late [Bronze Age Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean"]. Journal of Archaeological Science 27: 43–63. doi:10.1006/jasc.1999.0431. ISSN 0305-4403. http://water.stanford.edu/nur/EndBronzeage.pdf. 
  6. "Earthquake storms". Horizon (BBCtv series). 9pm 1 April 2003. http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/2003/earthquakestorms.shtml. Retrieved 2007-05-02. 

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