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Roger Weller, geology instructor

by Nicole Martinez
Physical Geology
Spring 2010

Earthquakes of 2010


What is an earthquake?

          In many places in the United States and all around the world we experience earthquakes.  You may be asking yourself what exactly is an earthquake. An earthquake is a sudden rapid shaking of the earth.  This happens when the breaking and shifting of a rock beneath the earth’s surface.  This is also known as plate tectonics.  The plates are constantly moving and sometimes they get stuck and are unable to move therefore they start accumulating energy.  When the energy gets strong enough the plates will break apart and this is what causes the ground to shake.  Most earthquakes occur where the plates meet however sometimes the earthquakes occur in the middle of the plates.










                                   The tectonic plates



Damages for earthquakes          The damages for an earthquake can devastating.  The grounds shaking can cause buildings and bridges to collapse.  Also it can disturb gas, electric and phone service.  Sometimes earthquakes can cause other natural disaster such as landslides, avalanches, flash floods, fires, and tsunamis.  Earthquakes can also cause death and extensive property damage. Earthquakes happen suddenly and without warning.  They can happen any time day or night.  There are 45 states and territories in the United States at moderate to very high risk for earthquakes.  California experiences the most earthquakes and Alaska experiences large earthquakes.



Magnitude of an earthquake

          Magnitude is the measure of the amount of energy that is released during an earthquake.  There are several magnitude scales to measure this. One of the forms that are use is call a Richter scale.  This scale is one of the scales used in Southern California.  In order to measure the magnitude the amplitude of waves on a seismogram is measure.  There is only one magnitude per earthquake.




          Aftershocks are smaller earthquakes that occur after the main shock. Aftershocks can also cause damage to already damaged buildings. Aftershocks can occur in the first hours, days, weeks, or months after the quake.

Haiti earthquake 2010

          Although we have had many earthquakes in the past such as the New Madrid faults in Missouri in 1811-1812, we have had many recent earthquakes in 2010. One of the most recent earthquakes that we have experienced is the earthquake in Haiti.  The earthquake hit at 5 pm. on January 10, 2010, 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince the country’s capital.( New York Times.)  This quake was the worst one to hit Haiti in over 200 years.  A study by the Inter American Development Bank estimated that the cost could be between $7.2 billion to $13.2 billion and they have a death toll from 200,00 to 250,000 people.  The earthquake was said to be an unimaginable.  It left the country without electricity or phone service.  Yet this was not the only one that was going to hit our world.


Chile earthquake 2010          Chile was another country that was affected by an earthquake.  Chile’s office of Emergency Management said that 300 people were killed and 15 were missing.  The 8.8 magnitude quake was 700 to 800 times greater than the earthquake that hit Haiti. Yet this earthquake had a greater depth of 21.7 miles were as in Haiti the depth was 8.i miles.  Chile has been known to have many earthquakes and was more ready for the quakes.  Some of the newer buildings that were built in Chile were built to withstand the shocks.  A 15 story building in the southern city of Concepcion collapsed.  The earthquake struck at 3:34 am.  This was the largest earthquake to hit the world.  The earthquake was followed by 76 aftershocks with magnitude of 4.9.



Baja California Earthquake 2010

          One of the more recent earthquakes was the one that hit Baja California.  This earthquake had a magnitude of 7.2. the earthquake affected 25,00 people.  The rural areas south of the city of Mexicali were the most affected.  More than 200 people were injured in the quake.  The earthquake that hit Mexico rattled tree neighboring states from Los Angeles and San Diego to Arizona. The earthquake cause property damage and many people lost their homes.



Sources used:

The New York Times

CNN World News