Q:

How does an earthquake form?

A:

Earthquakes happen when the boundaries of the Earth's tectonic plates bump and slide past one another; sometimes, they get stuck on jagged edges and cause earthquakes once they are released. These earthquakes are always followed by aftershocks starting from the same epicenter.

The Earth's four main layers are the inner core, outer core, mantle and crust. The crust and the mantle make up a "skin" on the outside of the planet, but is not made of a single piece. The pieces of the mantle and crust are called tectonic plates with the outer edges of each of them called plate boundaries. The section where two plates meet and move is called a fault. As each of the plate boundaries get caught on each other, the rest of the tectonic plate keeps moving and energy begins to store at the point of friction.

When the energy overcomes the friction caused, all of the energy is released and radiates from the epicenter. These waves of energy are called seismic waves and ripple like water on a pond when a stone is dropped in. They often reach the surface of the planet where everything starts to shake. This is why cities or towns that are located near faults are more likely to feel earthquakes than those in the center of a tectonic plate.

Sources:

  1. usgs.gov
  2. mtu.edu

Is this answer helpful?

Similar Questions

  • Q:

    Where do most earthquakes occur?

    A:

    Most earthquakes occur along the boundaries between the Earth's tectonic plates. The crust of the Earth is divided into plates. When a plate collides with or slides past another plate, this causes earthquakes. For example, as the Pacific plate moves past the North American plate, many earthquakes occur along the coast of California.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What caused the Sumatra earthquake?

    A:

    Alexander Besant of the Global Post explains that the 2012 Sumatra earthquake resulted from up to five faults in the tectonic plates under the ocean floor. Besant makes reference to a study explaining that the faults acted in concert and slid sideways to create a series of massive ruptures, resulting in the 8.6 magnitude earthquake. He also notes that researchers believe this may signal the splitting of the Indo-Australian plate.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What was the main cause of the Shaanxi Earthquake?

    A:

    Like most earthquakes, the 1556 Shaanxi earthquake occurred due to the sudden shifting of tectonic plates against each other. Tectonic plates are large chunks of the earth’s crust, and the cracks between these chunks are known as faults. East Qinling’s northern Piedmont fault is the likely origin of the Shaanxi disaster.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Where do earthquakes form?

    A:

    According to the U.S. Geological Society, the area in the Earth's crust where an earthquake forms is called the hypocenter. Unpredictable in nature, earthquakes form when energy from the crust is released, causing vibrations on the surface of the earth. The magnitude of earthquakes can vary exponentially, and the stronger the magnitude, the more devastating the effects, especially on areas that are near the epicenter.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore