Earthquake Essay: Earthquake Essay is an important topic for students to learn about. It educates the students about what an earthquake is and its repercussions. From a geological perspective, earthquakes (Magnitude 2 and smaller) occur several hundred times a day worldwide. These earthquakes occur in very remote places and its aftereffects are nearly imperceptible. Earthquakes that are larger and more destructive (Magnitude 8 and bigger) occur with lesser frequency; typically once or twice per year.
Usually, some places are more prone to earthquakes than others. These places are often located on the intersection between tectonic plates – gigantic plates that glide over the earth’s mantle. When two of these plates grind against each other, earthquakes occur. Depending on the location of the earthquake, it can cause a lot of damage, either through tsunamis, landslides, avalanches, mudslides, or ground displacement. These can cause serious damages to life and property; it can even cripple an entire economy if the magnitude is high enough. Read on to explore more about earthquakes.
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Most of us are familiar with the concept of earthquakes and the dangers they pose to us. However, not everyone knows the exact definition nor its probable causes.
An Earthquake is defined as a phenomenon where tectonic plates slip past one another, creating seismic waves that travel through the earth’s rocks. Depending on the intensity of the earthquakes, the effects can vary from minor structural damages to buildings to complete collapse, resulting in loss of life and property. Sometimes, when an earthquake originates from the middle of the ocean, it can cause extremely large and destructive waves called tsunamis. However, an earthquake does not directly pose danger to a person; in other words, people cannot be shaken to death by an earthquake.
Understanding the Cause of Earthquakes
Now that we know what is an earthquake, we shall explore how it is caused. The earth is made up of four layers – the inner core, outer core, mantle, and crust. The mantle and the crust essentially behave as a very thin layer of shell on our planet’s surface. However, this shell is not composed of one single piece; there are several pieces that exist under the earth, each slowly sliding past one another. These pieces are called the tectonic plates. There are in fact seven tectonic plates that are found under the earth’s crust:
- African plate
- Antarctic plate
- Eurasian plate
- Indo-Australian plate
- North American plate
- Pacific plate
- South American plate
Moreover, these plates are never static, they always keep moving. Over the earth’s history, tectonic plates have merged with other plates to form even larger plates. Other tectonic plates have drifted into smaller plates and some have been even pushed under other plates (subduction). This is one of the biggest reasons why we had supercontinents in the past, and their eventual breakup into the seven continents that we know today.
When two or more tectonic plates meet, the area usually becomes a hotspot for earthquakes. The actual event is caused when these plates start slipping past one another, creating energy in the form of seismic waves. Depending on the location and magnitude, these seismic waves have the potential to absolutely decimate buildings and natural ecosystems. The area where these earthquakes are known to occur is called the geologic faults.
Where do Earthquakes Occur?
Earthquakes can occur anywhere on earth, however, it occurs in more frequency where two tectonic plates meet, especially along the fault lines. The length of fault lines varies between a few meters to hundreds of kilometres. Most of the world’s earthquakes occur in a place called the Ring of Fire, in the Pacific Ocean. The Belt traces boundaries between many tectonic plates, as a result, there is a lot of movement. This consequently makes it geologically active and is considered a very “violent” place from a seismological perspective. Moreover, there are many underwater active volcanoes that line these boundaries, hence the name: Ring of Fire.
How is Earthquake Measured
Earthquakes are measured using a unit called Magnitude. The instrument that measures these units is called seismographs. However, scientists often prefer to use the Moment Magnitude Scale over the magnitude scale is often
Effects of Earthquakes
As stated before, earthquakes do not directly cause harm to humans. However, earthquakes can cause substantial damages to property. One of the most prominent dangers is ground displacement. Any buildings along the fault can collapse, thereby causing injury or death to humans. The effect of ground shaking as a result of seismic waves can also impact the structural integrity of buildings. Roads and bridges may not be traversable due to the damage caused.
Earthquakes also cause an event called liquefaction. This occurs when sand or soil becomes very soft when it gets mixed with groundwater. When liquefaction occurs under a building, it can cause it to tip over, sink several feet, thereby rendering the building a hazard.
Earthquakes can also cause flooding. When earthquakes rupture damns or embankments along a river, water would then flood the area, damaging property and drowning people. When earthquakes occur under the ocean, huge waves called Tsunamis can occur. These waves are extremely destructive and can destroy anything in its wake. Interestingly, when earthquakes occur near lakes, they can cause an event similar to a tsunami, but smaller in scale – it is called Seiches. They are usually only a few feet high, but they are powerful enough to flood property and cause damage.
Can we Predict Earthquakes?
Earthquakes can never be predicted with current technology. However, we can calculate the probability of an earthquake occurring in specific areas (geologically active areas).
FAQ’s on Essay on Earthquakes
What causes an earthquake essay?
Earthquakes are caused when two or more tectonic plates meet.
What is an earthquake?
An earthquake can be defined as the “shaking” of the earth’s surface as a result of a sudden release of energy from the lithosphere.
What are the effects of an earthquake?
Earthquakes cause the ground to shake. More intense earthquakes can cause liquefaction, flooding, landslides and even tsunamis.
Why are earthquakes dangerous?
Earthquakes do not directly affect humans, however, being in the wrong place can be dangerous – such as a building during an earthquake or on a beach when a tsunami occurs.
Can earthquakes be predicted?
No, earthquakes cannot be predicted.