Earthquakes occur when a sudden eruption of energy in the Earths Crust and causes the perceptive shaking of the Earths’ surface, also known as seismic waves. Tectonic tremors are caused along the fault lines located all throughout the world, whether inland or in the middle of the sea. These happen when either side of the fault line move past each other in various motions such as thrusting above, below or horizontally. While most earthquakes are caused naturally when the Earths’ tectonic plates shift, however some have been caused by humanity itself. Some known man-made induced tremors have occurred due to dam water levels shifting in large enough amounts to offset the faults, removing tons of rock while coal mining, among other various activities requiring heavy pressure or the removal there of in large loads or accelerated time periods.

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Measuring and Predictability

Quakes were formerly measured by the Richter Scale, which has since been replaced with the Moment Magnitude Scale (MMS). Richter’s Scale, developed in 1935, was based on the theory of Local Magnitude while the current MMS is based on the theory of Moment Magnitude, to allow for earthquakes across various distances. I could try to explain this in further detail but I’m afraid i would not do it justice. The important part is that they now use a specific formula that has been vastly tested, to verify the magnitude of current earthquakes accurately. As far as predictability of these tremors, there still hasn’t been much of an improvement here in the states. Scientists can determine if a tectonic plate will collide or shift but have not yet been able to pin point a specific date or even specific time period that it may occur. The best they can do is track its habits and predict that at some point in the varying future the strained energy will emerge. The good news is; there are extra precautions that one can take if they happen to live in a possible earthquake zone.

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Residual Effects and How to Prepare

  • Shaking and Ground Disturbance – The most common effect of an earthquake is the movement of the earth and the ground ruptures to go along with it. Depending on the magnitude of the quake there could have been home damage, power outages, water outages, and ground penetration. There really isn’t any short term prepping to be done here. However, when setting your home up you can be sure to anchor any loose and/or fragile furniture to walls or floors. In Addition, be sure to have plenty of extra water and non perishable food in the case that there are outages. Additionally, having a well stocked first aid kit will inevitable help. Earthquakes are among the top natural disasters known for injuring people, commonly due to the lack of predictability and therefore lack of evacuation possibilities.
  • Landslides and Avalanches – Due to the disturbance of the land during one of these tremors, a landslide or avalanche isn’t to far out of the realm of possibilities. The preparedness guide is similar to the above bullet point. If you live in an area with a high probability of earthquakes, be sure to bolt and or anchor any valuable or fragile belongings to ensure that none get broken, misplaced or damaged in any other way. If a landslide is a possibility in your area, be sure to have a back up plan for where you might stay if your house happens to be damaged slightly or even damaged beyond repair. Decide whether or not to stay with family, in a hotel or maybe a shelter. If your house is damaged due to this disaster, be sure to tell the proper authorities or organization in your local area.
  • Fires – Earthquakes can cause fires due to the damage after the fact. These fires are generally caused by downed power lines or gas lines. If a loss of water has happened as well, it makes it extremely difficult for the flames to be subdued. Be sure to have a fire evacuation route planned. Make sure you and your family know exactly what to do in case of a house fire or an impending fire. They must know the meet up point, how to get out of the house safely, what to grab if there is a chance and to be sure to help anyone get out if possible. Having enough fire blankets for everyone in the house will help them get to safety with out getting burned, if used properly.
  • Tsunamis and Floods –  Coastal or open sea quakes at a magnitude of 7.5 or higher have a high probability of creating these massive waves known as Tsunamis or tremendous flooding. Tsunamis can happen on one side of the world and create these mega-waves that travel across the ocean to a totally different Continent, destroying their coast with very little to no warning. The best way to prepare for either event is to not live too close to the coastal beaches. Living farther from water gives you a better chance of letting the tsunami recede back into the ocean before ever hitting your home. If you do live near the water be sure to have a quick evacuation plan, one that can be enacted at a moments notice. this can range from going to the tallest building near you, driving to the inner land, or getting to the safest most stable building in your general vicinity.
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