Earthquake is one of the disastrous natural calamities that have a high impact on the earth and its living beings. Let’s discuss what the causes of an earthquake are, but before that, let know briefly what is the earthquake.
Table of Contents
What is an Earthquake?
Earthquake is basically a sudden tremor of the earth caused by the sudden movement of the tectonic plates. It is a natural calamity which is out of human control. Higher the intensity of the earthquake higher will be the rate of casualties and devastation.
An earthquake is the sudden movement of the tectonic plates that results in the shaking of the earth’s surface. It can be extremely destructive or sometimes so slight that it cannot be felt. The study of an earthquake is known as seismology to find out the causes of earthquake.
In layman’s language, an earthquake is the shaking of the earth by some sudden underground activities. The most of the earthquakes take place along the Pacific Ring of Fire which covers the coastal region of the Pacific.
Causes of Earthquake
The tectonic plates in the earth’s crust are the main reason behind the occurrence of Earthquake. Tectonic plates are also known as lithospheric plates. These plates are a slab of solid rocks which are massive and irregular in shape.
Tectonic plates keep on moving over each other under the earth. The plates under the oceans are known as Oceanic plates, and plates found in continents are called as continental plates.
The continuous movement of Tectonic plates sometimes leads to the formation of structure like a valley, plateau, mountains, etc. As these plates ride over the other, it forms a fault line in the earth’s crust, which is also known as a fracture. When these plates move, the energy stored in the fault lines is released and ultimately results in an Earthquake.
The energy released from the fault line travel through the earth in various directions and causes a sudden tremor to the planet. This energy is known as seismic waves which are the result of the earthquake.
The Richter scale measures the magnitude and intensity of an earthquake. An Earthquake of high intensity has very devastating effects on life, property and also to the environment.
Types of Earthquake
Earthquake is divided into four types. They are-
The crust is the outer most layer of the earth which consists of various ruptured fragments of land. These fragments of land are known as tectonic plates. Tectonic plates keep on moving under the surface of the earth.
The collision of these tectonic plates results in the release of massive energy due to high pressure that eventually shakes the earth and results in a sudden tremor known as an earthquake. This kind of earthquake is most prevalent in the world.
A volcanic earthquake is much smaller as compared to the Tectonic earthquake. The earthquake caused by the excessive pressure of the gas in the earth’s crust, sudden changes in the motion of magma, any opening or occurrence of space between the rocks, etc. is known as Volcanic earthquakes.
Volcanic Earthquakes are of two forms – Volcano-Tectonic Earthquakes and long-period volcanic earthquake. This kind of earthquake can occur before or after a volcanic eruption.
The small earthquake that occurs in the area of underground caverns and mines is known as Collapse Earthquake. These kinds of earthquake usually happen in areas where there are underground mines and are also known as mine bursts. Sometimes massive landslides also result in collapse earthquake.
A nuclear explosion causes explosion earthquakes. These kinds of earthquakes are a result of human activities, and hence we can call them a human-made earthquake.
Effects / Impacts of Earthquake on Earth
The effects of an earthquake are very destructing for each and everything that exists on this earth including the natural environment of earth. There are lots of examples of the earthquake and the dramatic changes it has brought to the surface of the earth.
Some of the major impacts of Earthquake on Earth are-
- Damage to the life
Every year a large number of people die only because of the earthquake. An earthquake of high intensity that means more than seven on a Richter scale is enough to destroy a whole town.
- Damage to infrastructure
Earthquakes have a devastating effect on buildings, roads, bridges, water pipelines, gas lines, electricity lines etc. The open and exposed pipelines are too dangerous.
The cracking or collapsing of a dam by an earthquake of high magnitude can create a situation of a massive flood in the nearby areas.
Landslides, rock-slides, avalanches, slumps are widespread after the shaking of the ground. These are the secondary hazards that trigger after the earthquake. Landslides caused by the slope failure are triggered by a strong movement that occurs under the ground and causes damage to infrastructure and life.
- Ground rupture
Ground rupture is another impact of the earthquake on the natural environment. It refers to the cracks that occur on the surface after the displacement of the faults, which is known as an earthquake.
These ground ruptures can extend up to hundreds of kilometers. San Andreas Fault is one of the biggest examples of earthquake ground ruptures.
It is one of the disastrous by-products of an earthquake. Tsunami is a Japanese term that refers to “harbour wave”. The earthquake caused by the oceanic plates triggers a tsunami and cause severe damage to the nearby areas.
Liquefaction is one of the major side effects of the earthquake. It is a phenomenon when the sediments are shaken by the earthquake and are transformed into a flowing liquid mass.
Fire is also a hazardous impact of Earthquake that results in more destruction than ground shaking. Earthquake exposed electricity/power lines and leaking gas pipelines are a major cause of fire after an earthquake. The maximum damage during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake was reported to be caused by fire.
So, these were the major impact of the Earthquake on Earth. Impacts of Earthquake on the natural environment of the earth are known as earthquake environmental effects.
Earthquakes are natural and cannot be predicted. The knowledge of scientists about the earthquake is limited but they are working on means to find the ways to predict the earthquake and ways to reduce the damage.
However, we can reduce the effect of the earthquake to an extent by taking some precautionary measure and an effective disaster management system.
Comment below if you have faced any earthquake and how you come out of the situation. And what should we do to control the causes of earthquake.