Q:

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

A:

Quick Answer

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

The fault plane is often miles below Earth's surface, according to the USGS. The surface below the fault is called the hypocenter. Scientists use seismographs to measure the intensity of an earthquake. Three seismographs placed in different locations are used to triangulate the earthquake's starting position, which reveals the location of the epicenter.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Why is there a minimum number of stations necessary to locate an epicenter?

    A:

    Finding the epicenter of an earthquake requires coordination between at least three seismographs separated by, ideally, hundreds of miles. This is because a seismograph is only capable of registering the strength and amplitude of an earthquake, which together give the distance to the epicenter, not its direction.

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  • Q:

    What is the difference between an epicenter and a focus?

    A:

    The difference between the epicenter and the focus of an earthquake lies in the location of their origins. The focus is the exact point inside the crust of the earth where the quake begins, while the epicenter is the point on the earth's surface directly above the focus.

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  • Q:

    Where should you hide during an earthquake?

    A:

    The best place to take shelter during an earthquake is underneath a sturdy desk or table, preferably one that covers the entire body. If this option is not available, protecting the head and neck is the most important safety concern. Do not stand in a doorway, as that advice is outdated and unsafe.

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  • Q:

    What happens during an earthquake?

    A:

    Earthquakes are caused by sudden movement in opposing tectonic plates in the earth. As plates move against each other, sometimes the rocky edges catch against one another. The rest of the plate remains in motion, putting stress on the sticking point, and when it gives way, an earthquake occurs.

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