So, What are Earthquakes?
The earth’s tectonic plates are constantly moving, but they can get their edges stuck together due to friction. After a while, the tectonic plates break apart due to pressure build-up. When they break an earthquake occurs which releases energy in waves. The waves travel through the earth’s crust and cause the shaking that we feel. The location where an earthquake begins below the earth’s surface is called the hypocenter, whereas the location directly above it is called the epicenter.
How do we Measure Earthquakes?
The energy waves that are released during an earthquake are called seismic waves. These waves are recorded by instruments called seismographs, and the recording that they make is called the seismogram. Seismograms are a series of zigzags that scientists can use to determine the time, location and intensity of an earthquake. The higher the numbers on the Modified Mercalli Intensity scale, the stronger the earthquake.
Can Scientists Predict Earthquakes?
Scientists cannot predict earthquakes. But, they can point out where fault lines are, so we know where earthquakes are most likely to occur.
Earthquakes occur along the edges of oceanic and continental plates and along faults. Fault lines are the cracks in the earth where sections of a plate (or two) are moving in different directions.
Types of Earthquakes
- Tectonic Earthquake: an earthquake that occurs when the earth’s crust breaks due to geological forces on rocks and adjoining plates that cause physical and chemical changes.
- Volcanic Earthquake: an earthquake that results from tectonic forces that occur in conjunction with volcanic activity.
- Collapse Earthquake: small earthquakes in underground caverns caused by seismic waves produced from the explosion of rock on the surface.
- Explosion Earthquake: an earthquake that results from a detonation of a nuclear or chemical device.
In the end, earthquakes are terrifying. If there is an earthquake occurring in your area, stay inside, cover your head and torso by staying under a table and hold on, because the world will be collapsing around you and Vancouver is due for a big one.
By: Dana Assali