Earthquakes

Jehanne Pilgrim

What is an Earthquake?

An earthquake is a movement along a break in the Earth's crust called a fault. This causes seismic waves to make the ground shake. During and after the earthquake, the plates move until they are stuck together again. The location of the break in the rock is the focus of the earthquake. The epicenter is located right above the focus on the surface of the ground.
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What are some causes?

There are three major causes:

  • Surface causes are both natural and man made. They include explosions, landslides, avalanches and large engineering projects.
  • Volcanic eruptions can produce earthquakes by sudden displacements of lava within or beneath the crust of Earth.
  • The most common cause of earthquakes are tectonic. These are structural disturbances in parts of the lithosphere.

How do earthquakes affect us?

The damage caused by earthquakes depend on their magnitude and intensity. Some effects of earthquakes are:


  • destruction of property and transportation infrastructure
  • floods
  • fires
  • damage to sewage
  • tsunamis
  • fatalities
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Where are earthquakes most likely to happen?

Based on seismic zones and past earthquakes, the top 10 countries that are most vulnerable to earthquakes are:

  • Japan
  • Nepal
  • India
  • Ecuador
  • The Philippines
  • Pakistan
  • El Salvador
  • Mexico
  • Turkey
  • Indonesia

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How is the destruction of an earthquake measured?

The Richter scale measures the intensity and magnitude of an earthquake. Scientists use seismographs to measure these earthquakes.
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Most Memorable Earthquakes

2010 Haiti Earthquake: On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck the small Caribbean country, Haiti. Over 150,000 people were killed and almost 1.5 million lost their homes.

2011 Japan Earthquake: On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude undersea earthquake struck Japan, causing a tsunami shortly after. Almost 16,000 people were killed and thousands more had their homes destroyed.

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How can you protect yourself in the event of an earthquake?

  • Move to an open area away from buildings and trees.
  • Stay away from electric cables.
  • After the earthquake, keep calm and try to tune into a radio station to receive further instructions.
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