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Earthquakes of at least 2.0 magnitude occur every day across the world. And they happen hundreds of times. Many of these are not even noticeable. Here are earthquake facts you should know.
Our planet is indeed not a sleeping planet.
Significant tremors, those of magnitude 7.0 or greater happen at least once a month. The number of big-scale earthquakes has been on a steady rise throughout the years. And there are always fears of the next big one. The years 2010, for instance, saw the highest with 24 earthquakes of magnitude 7 and higher.
No place on earth is immune to quakes. They strike everywhere, affecting all peoples without discrimination. Because of that, it is wise to dig deeper into the when, where, why, and how.
Arming ourselves with that information can improve our disaster preparedness, to reduce damages and better assist victims.
Earthquake Facts & Tips That Are Good To Know
How do Earthquakes Occur?
It all results from movement in the earth’s crust. The earth’s crust plates, essentially, float on the liquid rock called the asthenosphere. As the fluid moves, the plates are forced to move. Earthquakes occur when these plates either collide or diverge.
Two or more rock plates suddenly break along a fault line. That releases sudden bursts of energy that make the earth shake. Earthquakes are the aftermath of the explosive separation of or collision of plates of the earth’s crust along a fault line.
Slight tremors may also be due to human-made explosions underground. They occur during the construction of tunnels, roads, subways, and mineral drilling. The same size of the seismic wave might be caused when mines collapse, or when bombs are tested underground.
Can an Earthquake Be Predicted?
By understanding how this natural phenomenon works you would expect that our friends in eyeglasses and lab coats would be able to tell us the date, time, and location of the next earthquake. Sadly, no sophisticated mathematical formula has cracked this.
All that seismographs can do is give a postmortem analysis of earthquakes. They can tell where the quake occurred, and of what magnitude, but they cannot say when it will happen. Predicting earthquakes is something that has kept many scientists awake at night.
As of now, the closest they can get to predicting an earthquake is saying that a particular fault line will produce a shock. But with no details of time and date.
However, the United States Geological Survey states that probabilistic predictions can still be made from collected data.
Some non-scientists make forecasts based on the presence of radon in local water, change in the behavior of animals, and increased occurrence in small magnitude tremors. Most of these predictions don’t turn out right anyway.
What Makes Earthquakes Dangerous?
Earthquakes inspire fear, and the fact that they cannot be predicted adds more to the alarm. During earthquakes building fall over, people are injured and property gets destroyed.
That is not all, there are secondary problems and accidents caused by tremors, including landslides and fires.
There can also be illnesses due to burst sewers after the earthquake.
Tips to Stay Safe During an Earthquake
Because no one accurately predicts it, when it strikes there is usually no time to evacuate. There are ways to stay safe during a tremor, to minimize your risk of injury or death.
Drop down, take cover, and hold onto something sturdy. That is the first earthquake safety tip. The best cover could be underneath a table or anything else that can protect you from falling items.
The temptation to jolt outside and save your life will be great, but you ought to stay still. You will be safer inside the building than out, in case the structure begins to break.
Avoid standing in the doorway. You can seek protection in other parts of the home including underneath a sturdy bed.
If you live in an earthquake-prone location, you will need to strengthen your home against the worst effects of tremors. You can opt to secure furniture with fasteners, and ensure that heavy objects are not hang up high.
Significant earthquakes in the last decade
Even though earthquakes can happen anywhere in the world, some places have recently become a hotbed of tremors. These locations sit on the fault lines. They include Tokyo, Los Angeles, Jakarta, and Manila.
Highly populated urban areas usually shoulder the most significant damages and injuries in these earthquakes.
- The biggest quakes going back a decade ago include the 7.9 magnitude shake of Sichuan Province in China, 2008. 87,000 people were either feared missing or dead, with 4,800,000 others displaced and left homeless.
- The 7.5 Sumatra quake in Indonesia, 2008 was also devastating, leaving 1,117 people dead. That was, however, nothing compared to the Haiti disaster of 2010. The 7.0 earthquake magnitude left around people estimated 300,000 dead and 895,000 others displaced.
- Chile saw one of the biggest tremors in the same year, at magnitude 8.8. This quake also resulted in a Tsunami that swept away the lives of many on the island.
- In 2011, New Zealand experienced an earthquake of magnitude 6.3. Manu buildings were decimated, and people lost lives. North Eastern Japan also recorded a 9.0 magnitude tremor in the same year.
- 2012 was Iran’s turn to be hit by a 6.4 magnitude shake and an after shake of 6.3. Later on, in 2013, the raging seismic waves hit Pakistani with a strength of 7.7, claiming about 828 lives.
- A 6.2 magnitude quake struck China in 2014, killing almost 700 and injuring many others. 2015 saw millions affected in Nepal’s twin shakes. The first tremor triggered an avalanche from Mount Everest, adding to the death count.
- Ecuador on the Pacific coast suffered a 7.8 magnitude quake in 2016. A slightly smaller one at 6.3 struck Rome in the same year, claiming the lives of 300 people. 2017 was the worst year for Mexico, since 1985. 300 people lost their lives in a 7.1 magnitude quake in Central Mexico on September 19th.
How to get involved to help the victims?
Donate to UNICEF. This United Nations body was created to help in emergency responses anywhere around the world. They help with immediate necessities during emergencies and calamities – they provide water, food, sanitation, and healthcare.
UNICEF accepts donations of any kind, and they have specific causes that you can help with.
Beyond donating to UNICEF, you can organize a fundraiser and donate the proceeds to an organization that can help. You can also give blood or offer to volunteer in emergency situations.
To sum it, Earthquakes can occur anywhere and with little warning. There are many ways people can stay safe and minimize damage due to tremors. It is also essential for us to come together and support the affected communities. That is what makes us human.