Thousands and even millions of people have been lost in property damages and livelihood, buildings and houses have been abandoned; also, a great number of residents have been left without a roof due to earthquakes anywhere in the world. Devastation is really substantial when earthquakes happen although they are one of the least predictable natural hazards. But these losses and devastation can be prevented only if proper preparation has been set.
On this article, we provide a lot of information related to the earthquake and things you should know. If you are a novice to this topic, we suggest you read from the beginning to the end but if you already have some knowledge, feel free to use the below navigation menu.
Some facts about earthquake
What is an earthquake?
An earthquake is a phenomenon characterized by sudden and rapid shaking or vibration of the earth's surface. It creates three types of seismic waves: the primary, secondary, and the surfaces waves. It is measured by Richter magnitude scale which is determined from the logarithm of the amplitude of seismograph-recorded waves.
What cause earthquakes?
Earthquakes occur when the tectonic plates of the earth break and move. When rocks underground suddenly break along a fault, energy is suddenly released causing the seismic waves to make the ground shake. Sometimes earthquakes are caused by human activities that alter the strains and stresses on the Earth's crust such as weapon testing.
Types of earthquakes
There are four types of earthquakes that occur depending on the plate movements beneath the surface of the earth. Among them are tectonic, volcanic, explosion and collapse earthquake. A tectonic earthquake happens when the crust of the Earth breaks because of the geological forces on the rocks and the adjoining plates causing chemical and physical changes.
Volcanic earthquake is caused by the tectonic forces that occur in conjunction with the volcanic activity. Explosion earthquake occurs from the detonation of a chemical and/or nuclear device. Collapse earthquake comprises small earthquakes in mines and underground caverns as a result of seismic waves due to rock explosion on the surface.
Effects of earthquakes
Though direct shaking of the ground effects is most probably the immediate results of earthquakes, they also result in disasters like tsunami, flood, landslide, fire, etc. They can cause damages to buildings and infrastructures. Soil liquefaction is another effect of the earthquake is soil liquefaction wherein a saturated and partially saturated soil loses stiffness and strength in response to applied stress.
Where does earthquake usually occur?
In most cases, earthquakes occur along the plate edges, along fault lines, Alpide Belt, Mid-Atlantic Ridge, and at The Circum-Pacific Seismic Belt or the Ring of Fire.
Some worst earthquakes in history
History records the worst earthquakes of time including those in Nepal in 2015, Nankaido, Japan in 1498, Izmit, Turkey in 1990, Rudbar, Iran in 1990, and Sicily, Italy in 1693. All these have cost a number of human lives, millions of dollars, and great devastation among the afflicted. They are regarded as the strongest and the deadliest of all the earthquakes in history.
How to avoid most of the damage from earthquakes?
Earthquakes can strike anytime and out of nowhere and can cause major damage. They do not occur often, but when they do, the magnitude of their damage can be insurmountable. However, these can be prevented by thinking ahead and determining the problem areas. It is best to be better prepared and well-informed to minimize loss and damages. Below are some of the preventive or proactive tips to take to avoid most earthquake damages.
You need to have knowledge about earthquakes, even just for the basics. Learn some techniques on how to survive when there’s an earthquake then share them with everyone. Ask anyone knowledgeable about earthquake preparation and avoidance.
Always have an emergency kit or supplies ready anytime they are needed. Keep a supply of updated first aid kit, dust mask and goggles, flashlights, enough water, and canned food.
You may consult any professional on how to make your home sturdier like installing strong cupboard latches and bolting bookcases to wall studs. Make an arrangement of all your furniture inside the house in a way that they are earthquake resistant.
Have an evacuation plan in case your area will be hit by an earthquake. Locate the certain place in your house where you can go when it happens. This spot should be free from anything that likely to fall on you.
The rule of thumb here is to “drop, cover, and hold.” You need to drop down where you are during the earthquake, take cover under a table or desk, and then hold on or hold your head using your hands. It’s best to stay indoors until its shaking slows down or in full stop and when you are sure that exiting is already safe. As much as possible, you need to stay away from any furniture or bookcases that can fall on you.
You need to stay away from the window especially when you’re inside a building. It can shatter that may injure you. Expect the fire sprinklers and fire alarms to go off if you’re in a high-rise building. Check for and extinguish any fire and use the stairs when you exit.
Tsunamis are frequently created by earthquakes so move to the higher ground when you’re in a coastal area. Meanwhile, be alert for falling debris that may be loosened by the quake when you’re in a mountainous area or unstable cliffs or cliffs. Also, be warned for landslides often happen following earthquakes.
Try to check yourself if you incurred any injury after an earthquake then tends to others well-being. Have protection from further danger by wearing a long-sleeved shirt, work gloves, sturdy shoes, and long pants. Help trapped or injured persons once you have taken care of your own self. Give first aid whenever it’s appropriate when you’re in a base emergency.
Search for and then extinguish fires. Get rid of any possible fire hazards. Put out small fires immediately with any available resources to prevent spread out. Take note that fire often comes after a quake. Make sure to leave the gas on its main valve unless you think the gas leaks or when you smell it. This is to prevent explosions that may result in death and injury.
Cautiously open cabinet doors and closet as their contents may have shifted during the quake’s shaking and could fall and create further injury or damage. Inspect the entire house for possible damage then get everyone out when you found out that your home is not that safe. As expected, aftershocks follow after the quake, which may further damage unstable buildings.
Watch out for the fallen power lines. Never try to switch on electric power to prevent electrocution. It’s always better to be safe than never. Only use the telephone lines when necessary like emergency calls and report of life-threatening emergencies.
How can we predict earthquakes?
As of this writing, scientists have not been able to predict earthquakes. They have conducted many earthquake trials already but they were left disappointed. It was found out that most of the models and methods go beyond the scope of the recent work.
Nonetheless, humans try to predict earthquakes through unusual animal behavior, temperature change, foreshocks, and the Theory of Seismic Gap. Hydrochemical precursors, seismic wave velocity changes, gas emissions, oil wells, ambient noise, and temperature change are also used by some.
There’s a possibility to monitor the movements of the breaks or active faults in the earth’s crust when the GPS systems found along the identified active faults. Minor movements of the earth’s surface indicate an impending earthquake although no precise prediction can be made on its magnitude and location. This serves as a reflection of the force that comes from below the crust.
Laser beam can be used in detecting the movements of the plate, while a seismometer is being used in picking up the vibrations coming from the crust of the Earth.
Technological advances enable scientist of today to use satellite and laser systems to predict fault movements. The data the gathered gives them better ideas where the quakes are heading to for future occurrence and may help people prepare for the many other earthquakes to possibly come. Hoping for a technology for earthquake prediction, scientists are still bold in confirming the absence of a prediction device. What seismologists do now is to have a keen look on selected places where gigantic earthquakes are projected to strike.