What are Earthquakes and Why are they Happening?

On July 4th, the City of Ridgecrest and other surrounding cities in California sat in the epicenter of a powerful 6.4 magnitude earthquake. An earthquake this size is capable of knocking items off of shelves and even has the capability of bringing down old subpar buildings. Unfortunately, this earthquake was only a foreshock of the larger earthquake that would follow only 4 days later on July 8th. On Friday night, buildings violently shook once more to a 7.1 magnitude earthquake, enough to bring down a families house. This video footage shows the effect that the 7.1 magnitude earthquake had on a local pool. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yf-iOR2Dks

Following the mainshock (7.1) were hundreds of smaller aftershocks with some measuring up to 3.0 on the Richter scale. The earthquakes that had occurred in the region left a visible imprint on the Earth that can be seen as far up as space!


Here is a side-by-side comparison of the fault line before and after the mainshock quake. The left side features the fault line before the two powerful earthquakes (6.4 and 7.1) had occurred and the photo on the right shows the impact of the foreshock and mainshock. The image on the right shows a new crack of significant size below the larger crack. This change in the Earths crust has made local inhabitants of the area questioning their safety in staying in the region.

Why did these earthquakes happen?

Earthquakes are caused by the movement of tectonic plates underneath the Earth’s crust. Tectonic plates are constantly moving and earthquakes are caused by the shifting of tectonic boundaries, which are the borders of tectonic plates. While tectonic plates are always on the move, their borders aren’t. Tectonic boundaries are ridged and stick to one another. While the rest of the tectonic plate shifts, the tectonic boundaries build up more and more energy and once they slip, an earthquake occurs. The higher the buildup of energy is when the boundaries slip, the larger the earthquake is, in regards to its measurement on the Richter scale.

It is impossible to completely predict when an earthquake will occur, but scientists can speculate about the future of regional earthquakes when reviewing the history of earthquakes in the area. Earthquakes are an inevitable occurrence, especially if you live in an area with high seismic activity such as California; But there are ways that you can prepare for such earthquakes, especially large ones.

What to do in the event of an Earthquake

Remember these words: Drop, Cover, then hold on. In the event of an earthquake, do not run outside but if you are already outdoors, stay there. If you are in a building or house, drop underneath a table and hold on. Do not go underneath a doorway, they are not sturdy enough and will collapse. If you are driving, park to the side and put your emergency break on. If you are using a wheelchair, lock your wheelchair and brace. If you are using a walker, hold on to your walker and brace. Here are some tips on how to prepare for a large earthquake.


How to stay safe after an earthquake

Expect aftershocks, they can be large but they won’t be as large as the mainshock. Here is a quick reference list for your safety.

  1. Check to see if you or others are hurt, if so perform proper treatment to the best of your ability and find help
  2. Do not go into crumbling buildings
  3. If you in a crumbling building, leave immediately
  4. if you are in an area that may experience tsunamis, move to higher ground
  5. Text messages are more reliable than phone calls. Use phone calls for emergencies
  6. Listen to local news via radio, tv, internet if available, and text messages







Crack in road photo on KTLA

Space image from abc 7






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