Earthquakes happen due to the movement of tectonic plates, which are large sections of the Earth's crust that float on the semi-fluid mantle layer below. The Earth's crust is divided into several tectonic plates, and these plates are constantly moving, albeit very slowly.
When two tectonic plates interact, they can either collide, move apart, or slide past each other. The boundaries where these interactions occur are known as fault lines. Most earthquakes happen along fault lines.
There are three main types of plate boundaries where earthquakes occur:
When two plates collide, one plate may be forced beneath the other in a process called subduction. The friction and pressure between the plates can cause them to become locked together. Eventually, the stress becomes too great, and the locked section of the fault line slips, resulting in an earthquake.
When two plates move apart, magma rises to fill the gap, creating new crust. The movement of the plates can cause the crust to crack and create a fault line. As the plates continue to move, the stress along the fault line can cause it to slip, leading to an earthquake.
When two plates slide past each other horizontally, they can become locked due to friction. As the stress builds up, the locked section of the fault line suddenly slips, causing an earthquake.
The energy released during an earthquake travels in the form of seismic waves, which shake the ground and can cause damage to buildings and infrastructure. The magnitude of an earthquake is measured using the Richter scale, which quantifies the amount of energy released.
It is important to note that while tectonic activity is the primary cause of earthquakes, other factors such as volcanic activity, landslides, and human activities like mining or reservoir-induced seismicity can also trigger earthquakes.
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