Earthquake, shaking of the Earth’s surface caused by rapid movement of the Earth’s rocky outer layer. Earthquakes occur when energy stored within the Earth, usually in the form of strain in rocks, suddenly releases. This energy is transmitted to the surface of the Earth by earthquake waves. The destruction an earthquake causes depends on its magnitude and duration, or the amount of shaking that occurs. A structure’s design and the materials used in its construction also affect the amount of damage the structure incurs. Earthquakes vary from small, imperceptible shaking to large shocks felt over thousands of kilometers. Earthquakes can deform the ground, make buildings and other structures collapse, and create tsunamis (large sea waves). Lives may be lost in the resulting destruction. In the last 500 years, several million people have been killed by earthquakes around the world, including over 240,000 in the 1976 T’ang-Shan, China, earthquake. Worldwide, earthquakes have also caused severe property and structural damage. Adequate precautions, such as education, emergency planning, and constructing stronger, more flexible, safely designed structures, can limit the loss of life and decrease the damage caused by earthquakes. Focus and Epicenter- The point within the Earth along the rupturing geological fault where an earthquake originates is called the focus, or hypocenter. The point on the Earth’s surface directly above the focus is called the epicenter. Faults- Stress in the Earth’s crust creates faults, resulting in earthquakes. The properties of an earthquake depend strongly on the type of fault slip, or movement along the fault, that causes the earthquake. Geologists categorize faults according to the direction of the fault slip. The surface between the two sides of a fault lies in a plane, and the direction of the plane is usually not vertical; rather it dips at an angle into the Earth. Waves- The sudden movement of rocks along a fault causes vibrations that transmit energy through the Earth in the form of waves. Waves that travel in the rocks below the surface of the Earth are called body waves, and there are two types of body waves: primary, or P, waves, and secondary, or S, waves. The S waves, also known as shearing waves, move the ground back and forth Effects Of Earthquake
Ground Shaking and Landslides-Earthquake waves make the ground move, shaking buildings and causing poorly designed or weak structures to partially or totally collapse. The ground shaking weakens soils and foundation materials under structures and causes dramatic changes in fine-grained soils. During an earthquake, water-saturated sandy soil becomes like liquid mud, an effect called liquefaction. Liquefaction causes damage as the foundation soil beneath structures and buildings weakens. Fire-Another post-earthquake threat is fire, such as the fires. The amount of damage caused by post-earthquake fire depends on the types of building materials used, whether water lines are intact, and whether natural gas mains have been broken. Ruptured gas mains may lead to numerous fires, and fire fighting cannot be effective if the water mains are not intact to transport water to the fires. Tsunami Waves and Flooding- Along the coasts, sea waves called tsunamis that accompany some large earthquakes centered under the ocean can cause more death and damage than ground shaking. Tsunamis are usually made up of several oceanic waves that travel out from the slipped fault and arrive one after the other on shore. They can strike without warning, often in places very distant from the epicenter of the earthquake. Tsunami waves are sometimes inaccurately referred to as tidal waves, but tidal forces do not cause them. Rather, tsunamis occur when a major fault under the ocean floor suddenly slips. The displaced rock pushes water above it like a giant paddle, producing powerful water waves at the ocean surface. The ocean waves spread out from the vicinity of the earthquake...
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