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# Tectonic Activity Earthquakes o Introduction o Causes of Earthquakes o Measuring Earthquakes o Effect of Earthquakes

An earthquake is the shaking and vibration of the Earths crust due to plate tectonics (movement of plates) Earthquakes can happen along any type of plate boundary. They also occur along faults which are large cracks in the earths crust. Most faults are associated with large plate boundaries where violent earthquakes usually occur.

Causes of Earthquakes Earthquakes are caused when the tension is released from inside the crust. This happens because plates do not move smoothly - sometimes they get stuck. When this happens a great deal of pressure builds up. Eventually this pressure is released and an earthquake tends to occur. An earthquake starts deep below the earths surface at the focus. The focus is the point inside the Earth's crust where the pressure is released. The epicentre of an earthquake is the position on the earths surface directly above its focus. The jerking movement caused by plates sticking then moving releases built-up pressure inside the Earth's crust, in the form of seismic waves. The waves spread out from the focus. The strongest waves are found near the centre of the earthquake. This means that the most severe damage caused by an earthquake will happen close to the epicentre. It is almost impossible to predict when they will occur. The effect of an earthquake depends on the depth of an earthquake as well as its magnitude. If the focus is very deep or the shockwaves have to travel through dense rock, the effect will be less

Measuring Earthquakes The power (magnitude) of an earthquake is measured on the Richter scale, using an instrument called a seismometer. The Richter scale is numbered 0-10 with 10 being the most powerful. The Richter scale is logarithmic an earthquake measuring 7 is 10 times more powerful than one measuring 6 and 100 times more powerful than one measuring 5. Up until 2 on the Richter Scale only instruments will detect the earthquake. Earthquakes above 6 cause serious damage and sometimes many deaths The Mercalli scale measures the damage caused by an earthquake. The Mercalli scale goes from I to XII e.g. VI. Everyone feels movement. People have trouble walking. Objects fall from shelves. Pictures fall off walls. Furniture moves. Plaster in walls might crack. Trees and bushes shake. Damage is slight in poorly built buildings. No structural damage.

Effects of Earthquakes Primary effects occur immediately, and are all due to the shaking of the ground e.g. buildings collapsing, destruction of roads and bridges. Secondary effects happen afterwards, but can be even more devastating e.g. fire, tidal waves and disease and landslides Examples: Northwest Turkey, Izmit 1999 Primary effects: Over 20,000 deaths More than 100,000 buildings were destroyed Over 100,000 families homeless. Transport links destroyed Landslides Secondary effects: Disease e.g. Cholera and typhoid (caused from polluted water) Services unavailable e.g. water, electricity and sewage Intense heat and dust (people who were made homeless had no shelter, thus were exposed)

Primary effects

Secondary effects

Social Impacts Economic Impacts (impact on people) (impact on business in the area) Death, Businesses & Homes destroyed, property destroyed, Services e.g. water disrupted, Transport systems damaged Diseases Looting, Economic effect of restoring businesses