What is an Earthquake?



Have you ever asked yourself, "What is an earthquake?" If you've ever felt the earth shake, it can be a scary experience. Simply put, what you are feeling is the result of parts of the earth sliding past each other below the surface.

The area, or surface, where the sliding occurs is called a fault. These areas usually stretch many miles and are more formally known as the earthquake fault lines.

Scientists are able to measure the strength of an earthquake using seismographs. Readings are converted into an earthquake scale, better known as the Richter scale. The Richter scale reports the magnitude of the quake in terms of a number ranging from 1 (on the low end) to 10 (which has never been recorded in history).

Scientists also use the data from seismographs to determine the epicenter of the earthquake (the point that it occurred). By analyzing the gaps between certain waves recorded by seismographs (which determine how far away the earthquake was from the specific seismograph) and comparing those plots from at least 3 seismographs located throughout the country, they are able to triangulate the center point of the earthquake.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no way to predict when an earthquake is going to happen. It is also a myth that there are certain weather conditions where the odds of having an earthquake are greater. Because of the inability to know when an earthquake is coming, it is vitally important to be prepared with an earthquake emergency preparedness plan and earthquake supplies if you live in a area susceptible to earthquakes.


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