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What are the effects of an earthquake?

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Quick Answer

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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What are the effects of an earthquake?
Credit: UCL Mathematical and Physical Sciences CC-BY 2.0

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The amount of structural damage that can occur during an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.0 or higher depends on the construction of the structure. In California, many newer structures are specifically designed to withstand earthquakes, but some of the older buildings do not respond well to ground motions.

Earthquakes are defined as an intense shaking of the ground that occurs when a fracture in the earth's rocks causes the ground to shift. Rock fractures are also referred to as faults, which is where the term fault line developed. Fault lines are the specific locations of each fault, and they are continually studied and monitored by earth scientists.

Earthquakes occur at a moment's notice, and it is important for homeowners to be as prepared as possible in the event of a severe quake. This means keeping an earthquake kit with flashlights, water, batteries and spare food, as well as taking steps to ensure the home structure is secure.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is the surface directly above where an earthquake starts called?

    A:

    The surface directly above where an earthquake starts is called the epicenter, according to the United States Geological Survey. The location of the earthquake's origin is the fault or fault plane, and that is the place where two pieces of Earth move past each other, causing the ground to shake.

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  • Q:

    When was the first earthquake?

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    The first earthquake to ever take place is unknown as it happened before the records of the events were kept. The first recorded earthquake was in 1769.

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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 is the difference between earthquake and aftershock?

    A:

    According to the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC), the difference between an earthquake, also known as the mainshock, and an aftershock is that an aftershock follows closely in the wake of a larger earthquake and in approximately the same area as that earthquake. Earthquakes are usually more powerful and longer lasting than aftershocks. An aftershock will not occur unless there is a mainshock that occurs first.

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