An earth quake can be described as a shaking of the Earth’s crust. It is mainly a movement of the whole crust that originates in the center of the earth. Earthquakes happen when the underlying rock suddenly shakes or breaks off. The moving of the underlying rock causes the surface rocks to slide and, as a result, leads to the earthquakes. Earthquakes can be extremely disastrous and cause a lot of damage in the place where they happen. The earthquake can happen once or happen as a series. This depends on the magnitude of the earthquake. There are other tremors that can cause an earthquake, for instance, nuclear bombs. These cannot be considered as earthquakes, as they are not naturally triggered (Coffey, 2010).
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The earthquake can be grouped into three stages. There is the foreshock, which come first. These can be termed as tremors that are slight and may, or may not cause a lot of effects on the ground. The foreshocks are then followed by the mainshock. The mainshock is the most disastrous. The main shock is later followed by the aftershock. Aftershocks are smaller compared to the foreshock and mainshocks. The magnitude of the earthquake determines how long the earthquake will take before it settles. History has recorded that earthquakes can take several years before they stop.
What causes the Earthquake?
According to an article by Coffey, earthquakes are caused by movement of the tectonic plates, which slide towards each other or away from each other. Tectonic plates usually lie parallel and in layers. The tectonic plate movement often leaves faults that split the ground. San Andreas Fault is a famous fault in California, which has been known to be a cause of many subsequent earthquakes (Lassieur, 2001).
The other causes of earthquakes are volcanic movements. The volcanic earthquakes happen less often compared to the tectonic plate movement. The volcanic earthquake happens when a volcanic eruption takes place. While the magma is coming out, the rocks underneath move to fit the space that is left by the magma. As a result, an earthquake happens.
There are areas in the world that have been noted to have high chances of earthquakes occurring. For instance, earthquakes occur often in mountain areas compared to the sea and ocens. This is due to the difference of the alignment of the plates underneath. Lassieur highlights that earthquakes are likely to happen to countries along the Pacific oceans. This area is referred to as the ring of fire. These countries include Asia, North America, Japan, and South America. Areas around the Mediterranean Sea are also prone to earthquakes.
Effects of Earthquakes
Earthquakes cause a lot property and life losses. Many buildings have collapsed during earthquakes and after. Often, landslides result from these earth tremors, and earthquakes, that have high magnitudes, lead to serious floods. In the recent past, the world witnessed one of the worst floods that took place in Japan. According to reporters, the tsunami was as a result of 8.9 points magnitude earthquake. Due to the strong earthquake, buildings were swept by towering waves that came from the ocean. Further reports reveal that there were fire outbreaks in some areas (Buerk, 2011).
Apart from the floods and the tsunamis, earthquakes can result landslides. Landslides often occur during or after the earthquake. The landslide takes place when the rocks underneath are settling back in position. In such instances, people, buildings, and other property can be buried by the land slide. Landslides are likely to happen in mountain areas that have been hit by earthquakes (Walker, 2008). Places with weak soils, steep sloppy lands and wet grounds are areas that are likely to be affected by landslides.
What to do during an earthquake
Every person has to be particularly careful when an earthquake is taking place. The danger that is likely to happen often is falling of objects and buildings collapsing. Hence, it is worth noting for a person to be calm at such times. It is advisable for people not to make movement especially in buildings. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (1993) advises people that it is important for a person to stay away from trees and buildings.
If a person is in a vehicle that is moving, he or she should immediately stop the car, and remain calm. If the circumstance allows, it is beneficial for the individual to leave the car to an open place. For people who could be moving on the roads it is advisable that peoplle assemble in open areas away from tall buildings and trees. Other people could be trapped in houses at such times. In such a case, the person should stop moving and stay in one position. According to the recommendation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (1993) a person in the house should take a shield under heavy furniture.
The government should encourage the study of earthquakes. Seismography is a way by which earthquakes are studied. The studies of earthquakes in the past have aided determining the strength of the earthquake. For instance, the tsunami that took place in Japan, 2011 was rated at 8.9. In the future, it is recommendable that instruments be invented that can be used to give warnings of the forth coming earthquake. That is people can be warned and evacuated from places that are likely to have an earthquake. In addition, civilians should be educated about earthquakes. Every person should be informed of what to do in case he or she is in an earthquake.
Earthquakes are amongst the worst catastrophic events that have happened in history. Statistic show that 1,248 earthquakes have occurred in the 20th century. Of all these earthquakes there have been about 1,685,000 deaths, which have been reported. The sad fact is that 40 percent of these deaths have happened in China (Coburn, Robin, & Spence, 2002). These statistics show that earthquakes have taken many lives in the countries that are prone to earthquakes, yet the rate at which earthquakes are taking place is increasing. This is because there are other areas where earthquakes are taking place yet have not been recorded.
An earthquake in particularly is unpredictable and happens suddenly. The worst about earthquakes is that once an earthquake has started it cannot be stopped. Hence, the earthquake goes on until it stops on its own. Nonetheless, if people take time to plan, then most of the losses can be avoided. It is very important for people to take note of any warnings, which are given by authorities to evacuate areas predicted of earthquakes. In addition, it is beneficial for all the constructors to be attentive while building. All buildings should be carefully planned and positioned in the right places. Tall buildings stand a high chance of collapsing if the foundation is not well built.