How Do Earthquakes Occur? By Neha Patole

Damage of San Francisco Earthquake of 1906

What are Earthquakes? Earthquakes are mostly known as destructive forces of nature violently shaking the ground. But what do we know about plates, faults and energy being related to earthquakes? Most importantly, how do they occur?

Plates and Faults- Most earthquakes are caused by tectonic plates grinding together in different ways. The different ways are called faults. Basically, faults are caused by plates grinding together. There are three basic types of faults: strike-slip faults, which are horizontal, normal faults, which are when the foot wall moves up relative to the hanging wall, and thrust or reverse faults, which are low angle faults.

What Does Energy Have To Do With Earthquakes? Because earthquakes are caused by plates grinding against each other, it releases energy through faulting. They tend to repeatedly occur along the fault lines which is formed when stress builds up and rocks move which releases strain energy.

How Do You Measure An Earthquake? You can measure an earthquake on a Richter Scale which is numbered 1-10 based on the intensity of it. Each level on the scale is 10 times stronger than the previous level. The most massive, destructive earthquakes are in the 7-9 range. Fun fact: The biggest earthquake measured was the 1960 Valdivia earthquake. It was on May 22 and was measured a 9.4-9.6 on the Richter scale!

Where Do Earthquakes Mostly Occur? Earthquakes usually occur where there are elevation changes, so where there are mountains and ocean trenches. Fun Fact: There is a belt along the rim of the Pacific Ocean called the Circum-Pacific Seismic Belt, and 81 percent of the worlds biggest earthquakes occur there!

Earthquakes occur can occur where there are mountains and ocean trenches


Clary, R., & Wandersee, J. (2011). It's Your Fault!. Science Teacher, 78(9), 58.

CHESTER, R. (2008). Chapter 14: PLATE TECTONICS AND EARTHQUAKES. In , Furnace of Creation Cradle of Destruction: A Journey to the Birthplace of Earthquakes, Volcanoes, & Tsunamis (p. 169). American Management Association International.

Chapter 3: Earth's Composition: Earthquakes. (2006). Science Giants: Earth & Space, 110.


Created with images by That_Soham - "cracks dry ground"

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