Q:

Where do earthquakes form?

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Quick Answer

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.

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Where do earthquakes form?
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The earth's crust is made up of several plates that are constantly moving. These movements are relatively slow, but they may cause earthquakes. Large earthquakes occur when the plates collide or slide past each other. The release of energy can be powerful enough to trigger an earthquake.

The boundaries where the two plates meet is often the focal point of the earthquake. However, sometimes it can spread across several other areas. Earthquakes are often located on faults. Faults are the result of fractures in the Earth's crust when the plates move.

Whenever an earthquake strikes, the major quake is sometimes preceded by foreshocks and followed by aftershocks. Foreshocks will often multiply in magnitude right before the quake; aftershocks are the opposite, and will decrease in magnitude once the quake is over. Strong earthquakes can cause avalanches and tsunamis. The magnitude of an earthquake is usually measured by a Richter scale. The Richter scale measures the amount of energy released during the earthquake.

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Related 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.

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  • Q:

    What country has the most earthquakes?

    A:

    Indonesia generally is considered to the country with the most earthquakes. Indonesia possesses this distinction because it lies in what is considered to be a highly active seismic zone.

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  • Q:

    How do earthquakes affect the atmosphere?

    A:

    A 2013 study theorizes that the seismic activity from earthquakes can release methane gas from the seabed into the atmosphere, although it is most likely that methane dissolves into the surrounding water before reaching that point. This research is based on an underwater quake off the coast of Pakistan in the first half of the 20th century that created a fissure in the seafloor and allowed methane to escape.

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  • Q:

    Where do earthquakes occur most often?

    A:

    Earthquakes occur most often along the edges of oceanic and continental plates. Oceanic plates are the large pieces of the Earth's crust that are located beneath the oceans. Continental plates hold the Earth's large land masses.

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