An earthquake is a seismic activity involving a sudden shaking of the surface of the Earth. It is caused by the forceful movement of the tectonic plates of the Earth’s crust. As these plates are always in motion, their edges get stuck due to friction and in overcoming that, enormous amounts of energy get unleashed. It is this energy that reaches the surface in the form of waves and causes the subsequent breaking and destruction of lives, properties and places which, is given the name “earthquake” or “tremor” or simply “quake”.
Depending on the movement of plates, earthquakes can be classified into three main types:
This type of earthquake is said to occur due to the force that one tectonic plate exerts on another plate while moving. This creates a thrust fault.
In this case, the earthquake is caused when two plates drift far away from each other, resulting in the formation of a rift zone. A common way to exemplify this would be in ocean floors, which eventually lead to formation of new ocean floors.
Here, however, contrary to the above cases, an earthquake occurs due to slipping of the tectonic plates by mutually exerted force.
There are two kinds of waves generated during earthquakes. These are categorised into two:
Also called p-waves these are longitudinal waves that move in the direction of travel. Another name by which these are known to seismologists is compression waves.
This type of earthquake waves move perpendicular to the direction of travel, just as water waves do. Alternatively, they are known as transverse waves.
Earthquakes are measured by seismologists using observations from seismometers. The standard device for assessing the degree of earthquakes is Richter scale. A value of 5 or below is considered moderate, while if the value exceeds 7, it results in massive devastation.
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