Q:

How do you define "earthquake"?

A:

Quick Answer

An earthquake is defined as a series of vibrations within the earth's crust that are caused by the rupture of its rocks. This rupture is due to the gradual accumulation of elastic strain within the crust.

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There are several causes for earthquakes, including sudden events such as volcanic eruptions. The most powerful earthquakes are caused by dislocations in the crust. Earthquakes often occur around faults, which are slippages between blocks on the earth's crust. Even after an earthquake has occurred along a fault line, another may occur if some stress remains in the crust.

There are several key points to an earthquake. The focal depth refers to the depth beneath the surface of the earthquake's energy origination. This point of origination is called the focus. The point on the earth's surface located directly above the focus is the earthquake's epicenter.

In addition to the immediate damage, secondary damage may be caused by the natural disasters spawned as a result of the earthquake. These disasters include landslides and tsunamis, which are often more destructive than the earthquake itself.

Earthquakes are typically measured using the Richter scale, which rates them from one to 10. This scale is logarithmic; each whole number indicates a tenfold increase.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is the longest earthquake?

    A:

    The Sumatran-Andaman earthquake on December 26, 2004, is the longest lasting earthquake ever recorded. The continuous shaking lasted from 500 to 600 seconds, or about 10 minutes.

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  • Q:

    How do you know if there was just an earthquake?

    A:

    The United States Geological Survey keeps a record of all earthquakes around the globe. In addition to providing seismic data from survey sites, the USGS also offers an application that allows users to report earthquake tremors they have felt. The USGS records all geological activity, not just earthquakes.

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  • Q:

    What causes an earthquake?

    A:

    Earthquakes occur when two blocks of Earth's crust slip past each other suddenly. Tectonic plates fit together like pieces of a puzzle and are continually moving. The edges of tectonic plates are rough and sometimes stick, causing an earthquake when they break free.

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  • Q:

    What are the effects of an earthquake?

    A:

    The effects of an earthquake range from mild to severe and include structural damage, damaged gas lines, tidal waves, fires, avalanches and flooding. The amount of damage an earthquake can cause depends greatly on the size of the earthquake. The 1994 earthquake in Northridge, California was a magnitude 6.7, caused 57 deaths, 5,000 injuries, and damaged homes, bridges and structures.

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