Earthquake

Barbara Castro

What are they?

Earthquakes, also called temblors, can be so tremendously destructive, it’s hard to imagine they occur by the thousands every day around the world, usually in the form of small tremors.
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How do they form?

Some 80 percent of all the planet's earthquakes occur along the rim of the Pacific Ocean, called the "Ring of Fire" because of the preponderance of volcanic activity there as well. Most earthquakes occur at fault zones, where tectonic plates—giant rock slabs that make up the Earth's upper layer—collide or slide against each other. These impacts are usually gradual and unnoticeable on the surface; however, immense stress can build up between plates. When this stress is released quickly, it sends massive vibrations, called seismic waves, often hundreds of miles through the rock and up to the surface.
Earthquakes 101

How bad can it really be?

Scientists assign a magnitude rating to earthquakes based on the strength and duration of their seismic waves. A quake measuring 3 to 5 is considered minor or light; 5 to 7 is moderate to strong; 7 to 8 is major; and 8 or more is great.
Can We Predict Earthquakes?

How does that affect humans?

On average, a magnitude 8 quake strikes somewhere every year and some 10,000 people die in earthquakes annually. Collapsing buildings claim by far the majority of lives, but the destruction is often compounded by mud slides, fires, floods, or tsunamis. Smaller temblors that usually occur in the days following a large earthquake can complicate rescue efforts and cause further death and destruction.

What are some examples of Earthquakes?

Port-au-Prince, Haiti




The Haiti earthquake was a magnitude 7.0 on the Richter SCALE, with an epicenter near Leogane, 25 km west of its capital, Port-au-Prince. It struck on January 12, 2010 where at least 52 aftershocks measuring 4.5 or greater could still be felt even 12 days later. The earthquake left a devastating wake of 316,000 deaths, 300,000 injured and 1,000,000 people homeless. It was estimated that 250,000 houses and 30,000 commercial buildings had collapsed or were severely destroyed.

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Tohoku, Japan


On March 11, 2011, the east coast of Tohoku in Japan was struck by a 9.03 magnitude earthquake, which was the strongest to ever hit Japan. Considered one of the top five largest earthquakes in the world, it caused destruction that claimed 15,878 lives, left 6,126 injured and 2,173 people missing across 20 prefectures. It also caused the collapsed of 129,225 buildings, while the tsunami brought about by the quake also caused severe structural damages, fires in many areas, and damages in roads and railways. This was the most difficult crisis Japan had ever faced after World War II as it did not only inflict damages to lives and properties, but also caused significant damages to four major nuclear power stations. Debris from the tsunami reached as far as Canada and Hawaii.

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