Earthquakes and Tsunamis... Did you know?

Scientists can locate the epicenter of an earthquake by studying the different speeds of seismic waves.

In modern architecture and engineering, buildings can be constructed to be earthquake-proof. They are built to sway and stand after the waves run through the earth’s surface. It is particularly useful in areas known to be earthquake-prone. Even if they fall, there will be less damage to life and property.

The world’s earliest recorded earthquake occurred on January 23, 1556, in Shaanxi, Central China. It had a magnitude of 8.0, and an estimated 830 people were killed. Many people there lived in caves dug into soft rock, and these collapsed during the earthquake.

Himalaya-Karakoram is believed to have been created y the movement of Tectonic plates. This land mountain range is the greatest in the world. It has 96 of the world’s 109 peaks of over 7,317m (24,000 ft approx), with the longest range in the Andes of South America, which is 7,564km (4700 mi) in length.

The largest recorded earthquake in the world was a magnitude 9.5 (Mw) in Chile on May 22, 1960.

The East African Rift System is a 31-37 miles wide zone of active volcanoes and faulting that extends north-south in eastern Africa for more than 3000 km (1864 miles) from Ethiopia in the north to the Zambezi in the south. It is a rare example of an active continental rift zone, where a continental plate is attempting to split into two plates which are moving away from one another.

Faults were first recognized as the source of earthquakes in 1855. Before that, the first “pendulum seismoscope” was developed in 1751 to measure the shaking of the ground during an earthquake.

A tsunami and a tidal wave are two different things. A tidal wave is caused by the earth’s movement and interactions between the sun and the moon. It is usually very shallow water and very mild. A tsunami is a sea wave caused by an underwater earthquake or landslide. It is usually triggered by an earthquake and results in displacing the ocean water, throwing it ashore and into the land.

One of the greatest earthquakes in history occurred in Chile, 1960 May 22 19:11:14. It had a magnitude of 9.5 and approximately 1,655 were killed, 3,000 injured, 2,000,000 homeless, and $550 million damage in southern Chile. Researchers believe that there would have been more deaths and damage if theta had happened in recent times, where the population is higher are more people living in closer proximity.

On Tuesday, January 12, 2010, another earthquake measuring 7.0 with an epicenter 16 miles west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti struck, killing over 100,000 people and affecting over 3 million others. The government of Haiti estimated that 250,000 residences and 30,000 commercial buildings had collapsed or were severely damaged.
Wikipedia, 2010 Haiti Earthquake.

April 11, 2012, an earthquake of magnitude 8.6 struck the Indonesian Province of Aceh. It is believed that 5 people died as a result of this earthquake.

On Friday 11 March 2011, The Tohoku earthquake and tsunami struck with a magnitude of 9.0. It is believed to be the most powerful earthquake that ever hit Japan, with over 15,000 deaths, 3,000 missing, and over 120,000 buildings flattened. This earthquake also caused extensive damage to roads, dams, and many huge power and water installations.

Earthquakes and tsunamis cause the greatest mortality, with the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami accounting for around 230,000 deaths. On top of its huge impact on life, the Indian Ocean Tsunami made 1.5 million homeless, whilst the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan killed 86,000 people and left millions homeless. While the Indian Ocean Tsunami reduced Indonesia’s GDP growth only marginally, by 0.1 to 0.4 percent, the hardest-hit province of Aceh lost capital stock equivalent to 97 percent of its GDP.

An earthquake of magnitude 7.7 struck southwest Pakistan on Tuesday, 24th September 2013, killing more than 327 and injuring hundreds more. Reports indicated that houses were flattened. The same earthquake caused a thrust up out of the sea, forming a small island of about 20-30ft high and about 100ft in diameter. *SDRP JOURNAL OF EARTH SCIENCES & ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES

Has your country or city experienced an earthquake before? We do not wish that to happen, but it is important to know if your city is along a fault line, or if your city is prepared for natural occurrences like this.

Our research for this topic included these sources:

  1. Matanle, P. (2011) The Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown:
    Towards the (re)construction of a safe, sustainable, and compassionate society in
    Japan‘s shrinking regions, Local Environment, 16 (9): 823-847.
  2. Earthquake Science Explained. General Interest Product 21. U.S. Geological Survey., Compiled by Matthew A. d’Alessio
  3. Fault Types: 3 Basic responses to stress: Accessed from
  4. Learning Links & Earthquake Activities:
    DOI: 10.15436/JESES.2.1.3 PUBLISHED DATE: 15-02-2017