General Earthquake Information

General Terms


An abrupt, sudden release of energy in the earth’s crust and/or upper mantle.  Earthquakes can be caused by two events: volcanoes and/or movement of the fault plane.  Volcanoes, when erupting or having a great increase in activity shoot off seismic waves that creates a type of earthquake called a volcanic earthquake [see types of earthquakes for more information].  Movement on the fault plane can also cause an earthquake.  When two fault planes slide past one another, they cause vibrations which then generate seismic wave that also causes an earthquake, this type of earthquake, however, is a tectonic earthquake [see types of earthquakes for more information].


A tsunami is a devastating, extremely large wave that is caused by an earthquake that usually caused by an underwater earthquake.  Believe it or not  volcanoes do not exist just on land, they are also in the ocean.  When one erupts it sends of seismic waves just any other volcano, although when this occurs a tsunami is often produced. However, that is not the only cause, just the most common.  Another cause of a tsunami is a land earthquake.  For example:  The 2011 Japan earthquake occurred on the main island, it killed thousands of people, but the real killer was the tsunami.  The earthquake sent off those “magical” seismic waves and created the tsunami.

Seismic Wave:

Seismic waves:  They are elastic shock waves that run through the earth often produced by an explosion and/or earthquake.  Scientists monitor these waves near volcanoes looking for signs of eruption.  For when an eruption is about to happen seismic waves are produced.  Scientists are also trying to use these waves to predict when earthquakes are going to occur, sadly they have not yet succeeded.  Earthquakes are almost impossible to predict, scientists only get a couple minutes warning when using seismic wave prediction.  They usually use them when actually studying the aftermath of an earthquake…

Want to learn more about seismic waves involvement in earthquakes?  Check out this 3D simulator.


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