Earthquakes have become the fascination of many people today, mostly because of all the doomsday theories that have been popping lately. For seismologists and enthusiasts alike, earthquakes can be exciting yet very deadly.
In a nutshell the movements of the earth’s crust cause earthquakes, although what some people aren’t aware of is that even a minor movement is enough to cause powerful earthquakes of large magnitudes.
Earthquakes can happen anywhere and at any time. People become interested in earthquake facts due to fear or due to sheer fascination. You might have a different reason in mind, but whatever that is, we’re sure that the 15 facts about earthquakes that we have in store can definitely spark your interest and even perhaps change your perception about earthquakes.
Fact #1The movements of the earth’s plates aren’t the only ones that cause earthquakes. Events like volcanic eruptions have been known to cause small to powerful tremors on the earth. In fact, even the impact of a meteor can cause an earthquake.
Many scientists believe that the series of earthquakes that happened in New Madrid during 1811-1812 was caused by the impact of a large meteorite to the surface of the earth. It is said that the comet also created a circular-like depression in Marshalltown, Mississippi.
Fact #2Do you think that the only earthquakes that happen are the ones that were broadcasted on the news? Think again! The United States Geographical Survey has revealed that there are about 3 million earthquakes every year.
That would be like experiencing at least 8,000 quakes every day and one earthquake for every 11 seconds. In the state of California alone, earthquakes can happen for about 10,000 times each year.
Fact #3Earthquakes can be minor or huge. A small earthquake can even happen without anyone noticing it. Then there are large earthquakes that can cause catastrophic effects. Strong earthquakes are usually followed by a series of aftershocks that can last for several months.
Fact #4The strongest earthquake that was ever recorded so far was the 1960 earthquake in Chile. With a whopping 9.5 magnitude on the MMS, the Valdivia earthquake tops the list for strongest earthquakes.
Although the exact death toll for the Valdivia earthquake has never been given a certain number, an estimated 5,700 people were killed. The earthquake also caused a large tsunami that damaged the shores of Hawaii, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
Fact #5An earthquake alone isn’t the only culprit for the large number of casualties. Most deaths are caused by other natural events that were triggered by the earthquake like landslides, tsunamis or even avalanches.
Today most casualties that rooted from earthquakes are caused by the destruction of man-made structures.
Fact #6A lot of people have the false belief that California is the state that is most prone to earthquakes. Contrary to popular belief, it is actually the state of Alaska that is highly vulnerable to earthquakes and it is even one of the most active areas in the world in terms of seismologic activity.
Those who are living in Alaska are probably used to heavy earthquakes considering that they experience 7.0 magnitude earthquakes every year or so.
Fact #7In the United States, the largest earthquake ever recorded wasn’t in California as well. In 1964, a 9.2 magnitude earthquake violently shook the grounds of Prince William Sound, Alaska. The earthquake lasted for about 4 minutes and caused a total of 143 deaths.
Fact #8The deadliest earthquake ever recorded was the 1556 earthquake in Central China. Although the earthquake was only an 8.0 magnitude on the MMS scale, it still took the lives of about 830,000 people.
During this time period, many people in China still lived in caves that were carved from soft rock, which explains the large number of casualties.
Fact #9The ‘Ring of Fire’ is where 80% of earthquakes happen each year. The Ring of Fire is basically a region found in the Pacific Ocean. The name is derived from the 452 active volcanoes found in the area.
Fact #10The most recent earthquake that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives was the Indian Ocean undersea earthquake of 2004. The earthquake gave rise to 100 feet tsunamis, causing the death of over 225,000 people.
Fact #11The moon has its own fair share of tremors called ‘moonquakes’. These moonquakes are caused by the tidal stresses between the Earth and the moon. Compared to earthquakes, moonquakes occur less frequently.
Fact #12There are actually certain areas on Earth that don’t experience earthquakes for long periods of time. In 1975-1995, there were no earthquakes recorded in Florida, North Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin. In fact, North Dakota and Florida have the least occurrences of earthquakes in the United States.
Fact #13Before scientists used electronic gadgets to measure the power of an earthquake, seismologists used spring-pendulum seismometers. These spring-pendulum seismometers were huge devices used to record the motion produced by earthquakes.
Spring-pendulum seismometers were so big that the largest one they ever built weighed around 15 tons. Mexico City still uses some of these devices.
Fact #14Contrary to popular belief, a tidal wave isn’t caused by an earthquake. A tidal wave is the result of the gravitational pull between the Earth, Sun and Moon. Tsunamis are the ones that are created from landslides or underwater earthquakes.
Fact #15Earthquakes can cause nasty and costly damages. Just one large earthquake in a densely populated area in the United States can cause enough damage that will lead to a loss of about $200 billion.