Hazards of Earthquakes

What is an Earthquake?

An earthquake is described as the shaking or vibration of the tectonic plates which float on the mantle. Some earthquakes are tiny in magnitude, while others can cause colossal disasters. Throughout history, earthquakes are responsible for many catastrophes, but due to our advance technology developments, we can reduce some of the damage caused by earthquakes.

The time duration of earthquakes varies with its nature. For example, the Alsakan earthquake in 1964 lasted for more than 7 minutes; that means the ground was consistently moving for 7 minutes. The earthquake caused many deaths and destroyed many buildings.

How Does an earthquake happen?

Earthquakes are generally caused when rock underground out of nowhere breaks along a flaw. This abrupt arrival of power causes the seismic waves that make the ground shake. At the point when two squares of rock or two plates are scouring against one another, they stick a bit. They do not merely slide easily; the stones get on one another. The stones are as yet pushing against one another, yet not moving.

Sooner or later, the stones break as a result of all the weight that is developed. At the point when the stones break, the earthquake happens. During the earthquake and a short time later, the plates or squares of rock begin moving, and they keep on moving until they stall out once more—the spot underground where the stone breaks are known as the focal point of the earthquake.

The spot directly over the centre (on the ground) is known as the focal point of the earthquake. Earthquake-like seismic waves can likewise be brought about by blasts underground. These blasts might be embarked to break rock while making burrows for streets, railways, metros, or mines. These blasts, in any case, do not cause substantial seismic waves. You may not feel them. Some of the time, seismic waves happen when the rooftop or dividers of a mine breakdown. These can, once in a while, be felt by individuals close to the mine.

The biggest underground blasts, from the trial of atomic warheads (bombs), can make seismic waves especially like massive earthquakes. This reality has been misused as a way to authorize the worldwide atomic test boycott because no atomic warhead can be exploded on earth without creating such seismic waves.

Are earthquakes necessary?

Since earthquakes are unavoidable and flighty, researchers and architects make approaches to make structures shake safe and increasingly steady. Spots like California, where earthquakes continually happen, have structures and structures intended to endure earthquakes. Architects fabricate shake safe structures by utilizing lighter materials and making structures that can deal with sideway stacks, as skyscraper structures tend to “sway” during severe earthquakes. Earthquakes happen because our planet needs to “change” itself to keep up its legitimate harmony. In any case, earthquakes will happen because structural plates consistently alter and discharge pressure. Besides this standard “self-revision,” earthquakes likewise permit supplements and minerals to cycle from the sea to the world’s surface. Hugh Ross, one of the astrophysicists in the Royal Astronomical Society in Canada, said that “without an earthquake or structural action, the supplements required by living on the land would be undermined from the landmass and gathered in the seas.”

What are the Hazards of Earthquakes?

There are many hazards of earthquakes that bring about destruction and death. Some of these hazards include:


Earthquakes can cause massive fires to break out. The shaking of earth can cause structural damage to factories, powerplants and heavy machinery, which can cause a fire to break out. Sometimes pipelines and electrical distribution systems are severely damaged by earthquakes, which can also cause fires. These types of fires are complicated to deal with because firefighters and other relevant authorities are busy dealing with other damages caused by earthquakes, for example, finding people buried beneath buildings. Moreover, there have been cases where the earthquake caused the waterlines to burst due to which the authorities lacked a sufficient amount of water to extinguish the fire.

Loss of Life (Humans and Animals)

Earthquakes are responsible for many deaths. Even animals are not spared. The ecosystem of a forest or any other environment suffers a considerable blow when an earthquake causes deaths. The balance of the ecosystem is hindered with, and it takes time to restore that balance. When it comes to the loss of human life, even though people try their best to protect themselves during an earthquake, nevertheless the loss of life is still substantial.

Landslides and Avalanches 

Earthquakes can trigger massive landslides, which can cause much damage. There are cities situated near a mountain that are vulnerable to landslides. Moreover, earthquakes can also cause very dangerous avalanches. A huge mass of snow tumbling down a mountain, engulfing everything it touches. There have been many cases where an earthquake caused an avalanche, and the authorities were struggling to locate the survivors who were buried beneath the snow.

Tidal wave and flooding 

Earthquakes can likewise cause waves, which thus cause massive flooding in beachfront regions. At the point when a substantial earthquake happens submerged, it changes the degree of the seabed and causes the water level to fluctuate. Regardless of whether it rises or falls, it is a risk to seaside zones due to the production of colossal rushes of water that “immerses” onshore. Immersion happens when much water goes inland in a brief timeframe, flooding beachfront zones. It can demolish vegetation, social structures and even entire beachfront networks. A case of massive demolition incorporates the torrent from 2004 that happened in the Far East, influencing large regions of Thailand and encompassing nations.

Demolition to Manmade Structures 

Artificial structures, for example, structures, get harmed intensely when hit by a substantial earthquake, making this one of the most evident cons of earthquakes. Structures and different structures once in a while even breakdown, because the establishment cannot deal with the power of the shaking ground. Streets, electrical structures and channeling frameworks additionally will, in general, be casualties of the world’s unexpected influential developments. This devastation once in a while prompts fires, destructive compound holes and enormous harm to transportation foundations, for example, spans.


Ground movement may trigger avalanches and other quick mass‐wasting occasions that bring about death toll and harm to structures. A mass‐wasting variety is an avalanche by liquefaction; wherein water‐soaked residue moves downslope like a slurry. Structures that were based on firm silt may sink if liquefaction happens.

Rocks can be for all time uprooted during an earthquake. Flaw squares may move vertically, framing another scarp along the shortcoming plane. Level development can destroy streets, pipelines, and whatever other structures that are worked over the deficiency zone. Removal once in a while surpasses around 7 meters (25 feet).

Absence of Necessities 

The absence of clean water to drink or capacity to keep individuals warm brings about genuine hardship. Nourishment supplies come up short, and infections may spread in makeshift camps. Frequently, individuals cannot escape from the territory, as transport courses – streets and railroads – are probably going to be shut because of harm from the shake. The overcomers of an earthquake may have lost companions and family members, their homes and practically the entirety of their possessions. It is not very easy for us to envision how they adapt right now. Earthquake unfortunate casualties urgently need assistance, quick—good cause like Shelterbox, which help casualties of earthquakes and catastrophic events, truly spare lives.

Floods brought about by the breakdown of dam dividers. 

Earthquakes can cause dam dividers to break and, in the end, breakdown, sending seething waters into encompassing zones and causing extreme flooding.


At the point when silt with a high-water content is exposed to delayed shaking, the weight of the water held in pores in the residue gradually increments in the long run, the dregs lose all durable quality and start to carry on as though they were fluids. Building and different structures sink into the ground or topple, and covered tanks and different holes ascend to the surface. This is known as liquefaction. Liquefaction happened during the earthquake of 1692 in Jamaica and was liable for the decimation of the town of Port Royal. In recent decades, numerous pieces of the Eastern Caribbean have gotten progressively helpless against liquefaction in light of the expanded utilization of recovered land for urban advancement.

Harm to the Economy 

Everyday life for people in a country influenced by an earthquake changes on account of the harm the calamity causes to the economy. Areas that were already well-known goals for guests to endure gloom because of lost the travel industry, with individuals remaining ceaselessly out of dread and during reproduction. Reconstructing after an earthquake puts a noteworthy money related strain on governments too, bringing about a financial downturn that can influence whole districts of the world.

Infection and Contamination from floods brought about by earthquakes. 

After a tidal wave, defiled water and nourishment supplies represent a hazard to individuals’ wellbeing. Rising waters can convey numerous wellsprings of defilement, for example, soil or oil. Moreover, irresistible maladies increment after a tidal wave. Intestinal sickness and cholera may turn out to be progressively typical. Individuals may need to remain in covers or other lacking elbow room that make spreading maladies simpler.

How to measure an earthquake?

The Richter Scale 

The Richter scale was created during the 1930s by Dr. Charles Richter, a seismologist at the California Institute of Technology. A Richter magnitude is determined dependent on the plentifulness of the most significant earthquake wave recorded for the seismic activity. The Richter scale is a base-10 logarithmic scale, implying that there is no restriction on how little or huge the earthquake must be to be estimated by the scale. The Richter scale consists of 1 to 10, with 1 being the littlest and 10 being the biggest. Since the Richter scale is logarithmic, a 5.0 earthquake estimates multiple times the shaking abundancy than one that estimates 4.0, for instance.

The Mercalli Scale 

The Mercalli scale quantifies the power of an earthquake by evaluating the impacts of an earthquake on the Earth’s surface. Given human responses and human-made structures, the Mercalli scale rates earthquakes on a scale of 1 to 12, with 1 meaning that nothing was felt and 12 signifying absolute pulverization. Designed in 1902 by Giuseppe Mercalli, the Mercalli scale is not considered as logical as the Richter scale. This is on the grounds that the Mercalli scale depends on observers to report about the earthquake, so the shudder’s power is not characterized in thorough and target principles, as the Richter scale gives.

Moment Magnitude Scale 

The minute magnitude scale was presented in 1979 as a successor to the Richter scale. The minute magnitude scale thinks about vitality discharged by earthquakes. It depends on the snapshot of the earthquake, which is equivalent to the unbending nature of the Earth increased by the standard measure of slip on the issue and the size of the territory that slipped. The minute magnitude scale is more exact in estimating massive earthquakes than the Richter scale. It is utilized to appraise magnitudes for all cutting-edge enormous earthquakes by the U.S. Geographical Survey.


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Cite/Link to This Article

  • "Hazards of Earthquakes". Geography Revision. Accessed on April 19, 2021. https://geography-revision.co.uk/a-level/physical/hazards-of-earthquakes/.

  • "Hazards of Earthquakes". Geography Revision, https://geography-revision.co.uk/a-level/physical/hazards-of-earthquakes/. Accessed 19 April, 2021.

  • Hazards of Earthquakes. Geography Revision. Retrieved from https://geography-revision.co.uk/a-level/physical/hazards-of-earthquakes/.