How Earthquakes Occur

Science | 2020-12-12 22:43:46.0 | By Sunita Pathak

You must have heard of the Earthquake. Earthquakes are natural disasters that occur all around the world. Earthquakes are caused by the sliding of one plate or rock below the ground with another causing the disturbance in its stability which induces waves, shaking the ground. Earthquakes don't wait for any specific time or occasion to occur. It occurs at any time and at any place. But, there certainly are some places that are more prone to frequent and higher Richter scale Earthquakes. Richter scale is the unit of Earthquake measurement which ranges from 1-10. Higher the magnitude of Earthquake, more is the Richter scale and faster the ground shakes. But, usually low Richter scales Earthquakes occur at different times in various places that are certainly not noticed by a lot of people. Despite the common low scale Earthquakes, there have been a great deal of incidents and deadly accidents caused by the high magnitude Earthquakes resulting in the deaths of tons of people.

There are various ways to measure the magnitude of the earthquake. The most commonly used and less uncertain method is by using a special equipment called Seismometer that measures the earthquake in Richter Scale. It used a formula based on the amplitude of the largest wave recorded on a specific type of seismometer and the distance between the earthquake and the seismometer. At the beginning, the introduction of seismometers to the world, the results from the seismometer were used to be printed on a paper and read thoroughly to get the magnitude. But nowadays, due to modernization, everything is digital and easier to read and visualize. Thus, life has been better.

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You might wonder what are the things that cause such dreadful Earthquakes? Why can't we stop it? Well, there are plenty of different reasons why Earthquakes occur. Earthquakes might occur due to volcanic activities, foldings and faultings, plate tectonic or even human caused artificial earthquakes.

1.Volcanic Earthquakes


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There are certain places where volcanic activities occur more often. In such places, frequent earthquakes may occur due to the rising pressure underneath caused by expanding volcanic gases or the sideways movement of molten magma. As this is the earthquake resulting from the volcanic eruption, it is referred to as 'Volcanic Earthquake'. The earthquake may occur ahead of the volcano eruption or it may occur later after the volcano has erupted. Mostly the earthquakes occurring ahead of the volcanic eruption are of greater magnitude than the one occurring after the eruption. But remember, exception always exists.


2.Folding and Faulting


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Folding means bending of the rocks or plates forming different shapes like anticlines, synclines or monoclines. Sometimes, the process that involves the folding of the rocks induces the earthquakes. But this causes lower magnitude earthquakes as the folding of rocks is not a rapid process.

Anticline : Anticline is the structure formed that looks like an upside down U shape but more wider. Moving from the top (highest elevation point) to downwards on both sides, the depth is increasing (meaning the elevation is decreasing. Syncline : The opposite shape of the anticline is syncline. Meaning, syncline is the structure that looks like 'U' but more wider. The bottom point is the lowest elevation point and the elevation increases moving upwards.

Faulting is referred to the fracture created in the rock along with the sliding of the plates. There are different types of faultings like normal fault, reverse fault or strike-slip fault. These different faults are classified on the basis of the strike (imaginary line formed by the fault plane with the horizontal) and dip (the angle that the fault plane makes with the horizontal) and the movement of the hanging wall and footwall (among the two parts created by the slanted fault plane, the part that is on the top when the dipping is maximum is the hanging wall and the other part below the plane is the footwall).

Normal Fault : When the hanging wall moves below and the footwall moves above that is referred to as the normal fault.

Reverse Fault : When the hanging wall is above and the footwall moves below then that is referred to as the reverse fault.

Strike-slip fault : When the fault plane is perpendicular to the horizontal (makes 90 degrees) and the rocks slip past one another then that is referred to as the strike-slip fault.

As faulting results in the movement of the rocks parts up, down or sideways, it causes the wave resulting in the shaking of the ground which is called an earthquake. The release of the energy during the faulting causes the earthquake. The energy was already stored in the rock as the energy that maintained the elastic property of the rock. The release of that energy changes the elastic property of the rock to non-elastic resulting in the earthquake.


3.Safety precautions to be taken for Earthquake



There are various safety precautions that can be taken to remain safe during the earthquake. But remember, following the safety precautions doesn't guarantee the safety of the individual. Instead, taking these safety precautions is the best possible thing that all the people can do to remain safe and alive. These safety precautions depend on the situations and the magnitude of the earthquake.

If the magnitude of the earthquake is small then it is not necessary to keep ourselves in an open area. One can carry on with what the person was doing.

If the magnitude feels reasonably high and it is possible to run to an exit towards an open area then it is the best thing to do in such cases.

If the magnitude is extremely high and there is no time for you to run then, remaining hidden under hard objects like hard wood tables, cupboards, under the bed if the bed has space to go under etc. In such high magnitudes earthquake cases, it is not a good idea to run but instead remaining protected under such hard objects is the best one can do.


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