What is the surface directly above where an earthquake starts called?
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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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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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    Where can you find out if there was an earthquake last night in California?

    A:

    Those interested in finding out the most recent earthquakes in California can find out at sites such as the United States Geological Survey (earthquake.usgs.gov) and the California Institute of Technology's Earthquake Data Center (scedc.caltech.edu). The United States Geological Survey broadcasts California earthquakes within a few minutes of their occurrence.

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  • Q:

    What is an epicenter?

    A:

    An epicenter is the point on the earth's surface directly above where the earth begins to fracture in an earthquake. The focus lies beneath the epicenter. The epicenter is located from records of earthquake waves created by a seismograph.

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    What causes earthquakes?

    A:

    The surface of the earth is called the crust, and it is made up of plates, called tectonic plates, that move. Earthquakes happen when these plates bump, scrape or drag against each other.

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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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