what causes earthquakes

What Causes Earthquakes To Occur On Earth?

Most of us at least want to understand the prime causes of earthquakes. It is the “explosion” of gigantic seismic wave in the earth's crust at the outer surface of earth. It is out of question any energy explosion is to create shockwaves along with vibration on the entire surface or media it passes through. You want to explore deeper about what is the real meaning of earthquake strength measurement on the most famous Richter’s scale. You will be surprised to find out and could be have a kind of difficulty to figure out how powerful the energy explosion is from the inner center of earth. For you who study science about geology or similar to that could describe that at some point the power at the starting point of an earthquake could be as strong as an atomic bomb explosion. That is the truth. What causes earthquake indeed? Well, Earth is basically a giant lump that consists of rock. It may even similar to freshly boiled egg with hot and molten core that bubbles away inside the thin outer crust of the earth. Actually, we live on the top of tectonic plates, the enormous rocky slabs that can slide. Yes, we live on an eggshell. So, it is very possible that one minute you walk down the street just happily and safely. But the next minute, the street walks all by itself indicating an earthquake is happening. When it happens, all the buildings start to shake with glass and bricks rain down around you. You notice there are huge crates that appear on pavements with so many people screaming in fear. It even feels like the world has finally come to an end.


what causes earthquakes


Those are fearful descriptions of an ongoing earthquake. Unfortunately, we as human cannot do much to prevent or stop it from happening. Instead, we can only predict where the next earthquake will happen. But, we cannot even predict the accurate locations. So, we can only prepare for the next earthquake while hoping there will be not many lives at stake.


How Earthquake Happens


There are 4 layers of our planet which are known as: internal core, external core, mantle and crust. The outermost layer and the crust of the earth form a thin surface on the outer layer of planet earth. The “thin” part is divided into several thinner layers. Those layers tend to move in a constant lower speed and collide one with another. They are known as tectonic plates and the edge of each plates is called the plate boundary which is normally made of solid rocks. Seismic waveshock is the product of regular collision between plate boundaries as the result of energy break free. Some scientists would have to say this stage is the most dangerous one to earth’s surface as the energy release from underground. Indeed some earthquake level monitoring device prefer to base the reading to this phenomenon. Because the terms are more stable in the sense the electronic sensors can subdivide the vibration signal reading into finest possible state to represent most accurate output reading.

In short answer, the cause of earthquake is faulting vertical or sudden lateral movement of rack beneath the surface. The earthquake happens at the faults. This is a particular place where the two tectonic plates jagged edges grind against one another. According to the report, most of the earthquakes happen in the ocean. Oceans are the exact places where the tectonic plates push apart on the sea’s floor. In fact, some of the worst earthquakes had happened in Pacific Ocean. This is the reason why there is the so called area Ring of Fire in the Pacific Ocean.

Actually, the earth’s tectonic plates move very slow that we do not even realize. And when the two grinding plates jolt suddenly into new position, it will release an energy which finally creates earthquake. Epicenter is the location of the worst and greatest damages. Once an earthquake happens, it will only stop after all the energy at the Earth’s focus has been dissipated. However, there is still even chance for aftershocks, the further earthquakes.

Highrise building collapse, meteror collision to ground surface and the most commonly to happen is volcano eruption as prime cause of earthquake. There is one often overlooked cause: underground explosion in mining area. The latter is an ongoing issue every where else in the world. It is high time for one to consider the negative effects to the next generation due to over exploitation which in anyway would end in less productive result. The required recovery time is unbelieveable as it is more than just a matter of wood logging. It is about soil layers destruction. How could one restore it after the mining production is over in one spot. On and on that is the way human destroy his own living place by digging huge tunnels deep down into the earth just for the sake of precious metals and oil. There are some huge earthquakes that never been announced as a result of soil layers collapse.


Human-Induced Earthquakes   


Apparently, there are also possibilities of human-induced earthquakes. This kind of earthquake has been documented in several parts of the world such as Canada, Japan and United States. Usually, it is caused by injection of fluid into the so called deep wells that are used for secondary oil recovery or waste disposal. But, there are considerably minor earthquakes. In 1967, there was the largest human-induced earthquake happened in Rocky Mountain, Arsenal, Colorado. It was 5.5 Mag earthquake that was followed by a series of aftershocks or smaller earthquakes. Following this earthquake, the injection was finally discontinued.

There is also important fact regarding seismic waves caused by underground explosions that are similar to earthquake. Usually, the explosions are set off in order to break the rock to make railroads, tunnels, mines or subway. Some of these waves may occur during the collapse of mine’s walks. Even the largest underground explosions following nuclear warheads can also create seismic waves that are very similar to earthquake.


Earthquake Classification


The earthquake is classified into three different groups according to the focus’ depth.

  1. Shallow: earthquake that happens at less than 60 km depth
  2. Intermediate: earthquake that occurs at between 60 km to 300 km of depth
  3. Deep: earthquake that occurs at more than 300 km of depth


Measuring Earthquake


Moving earth crust caused by planet Earth semi soiid center push upper tectonic layers hence deliver the energy to earth surface. Depends on how the initial energy wave is erupted it might be transformed either into crashing, shifting or smashing movement on ground surface. Should it happen at sea abyss sector then there is always a potential for tsunami to happen. At this point earthquake observers are to rely to the sensistiveness as well as accuracy of the monitoring system.

In every earthquake, one of the main jobs of the scientists of professionals is to measure the earthquake. It is significantly critical to distinguish major earthquakes that cause major damage to minor earthquake that cause almost no fatalities. Usually, measuring it is done by using number of Richter scale and Mercalli scale.

The Richter Scale is known as the scientific measurement of the earthquake’s strength. It was developed in 1935 by Charles F. Richter. Usually, earthquake with less than 2.0 Mag on Richter scale is considered micro earthquake. The major earthquake causing damage is usually 8.0 Mag on Richter scale and above. The earthquake that happened in Aceh Indonesia and several countries in Asia in 2004 was among the worst earthquake that was followed with tsunami. Japan afterward also experienced major earthquake and tsunami.

With this information, it is definitely clear how every earthquake actually happens. Although we as human have no power to prevent but lowering the fatalities is still a necessary effort to do. 

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Aryan Kumar
Nice article informing about earthquakes.

Lalit Sharma
A useful and interesting information. thanks for the data.


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