What is an Earthquake?

Earthquakes happen every day on the earth. Most of them go unnoticed because they are minor and their effects are insignificant or not destructive at all.


What causes earthquakes?

Most quakes are as a result of pressure that accumulates within the earth crust over time. These pressures exert force at the junctions of the plates that form the earth's lithosphere. Once the forces reach certain levels the earth shakes or, sometimes, mass movement is experienced. The elements that cause the actual shaking or movement of the earth are called seismic waves. Seismic waves vary in type, size and frequency.

The magnitude of an earthquake determines the amount of damage it causes. The effects of earthquake are quantified by estimating the severity of shaking at a given location. A seismometer measures the strength of seismic waves hence the magnitude of earthquake.

The effects of an earthquake are felt over a given area. Large earthquakes may affect the entire planet.

Some other terms used in the study of earthquakes are foreshocks and aftershocks. Foreshocks are earthquakes of a smaller magnitude that occur before the principal quake. On the other hand, aftershocks occur after the major earthquake.

Earthquakes may occur under the sea. These cause deformation of the sea bed and may also trigger submarine landslips. Deformed sea beds and slides may result to rise in tsunamis.

Earthquakes are a natural calamity. They are a threat to lives of human beings and other creatures. Earthquakes have caused damage to infrastructure and displacement of populations.

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