Earthquakes

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Earthquakes for kidsEarthquakes for kids learning in KS2 at Primary School. Homework help with the what an earthquake is and how they happen. Read about the impact of earthquakes on the environment

What is an earthquake?

An earthquake is a release of energy in the earth that makes the ground tremble.

How do earthquakes happen?

Earthquakes happen when two tectonic plates move past each other in the earth’s crust. As they plates move the rock gets stretched or squeezed until it splits. This squeezing and stretching is what causes the ground to tremble and move.

When the rock gets jammed the energy builds up until it suddenly becomes free and causes a huge release in energy and a big movement in the earth. The area underground where the rock moves is the start of the earthquake. We call the point on the surface directly above that the epicentre.

Sometimes not all the energy is released in one go and the remaining energy is released a little while later. These bursts of energy are called aftershocks.

Earthquake footage

DK Find out -EarthquakesKD Find out!
Earthquakes are events where the ground shakes. Find out more facts.
Weather WizKids websiteWeather WizKids
A tsunami is a large ocean wave usually caused by an underwater earthquake or a volcanic explosion.

Where do earthquakes occur?

Earthquakes happen when two tectonic plates move past each other which means earthquakes are found on the edge of the worlds tectonic plates. The Ring of Fire is the edge of the tectonic plate that the Pacific ocean sits on. A lot of activity is found around the edge of this plate. About 90% of all earthquakes occur are along this edge and 75% of all active volcanoes  are found here as well.

Earthquake tracker websiteEarthquake Track
See where today’s biggest earthquakes are with this live map.

How are earthquakes measured?

Earthquakes are measured using a seismometer. A seismometer detects the vibrations in the earth. The earthquakes size and strength is then measured using the Richter scale.

Richter scale

Richter Scale Description Frequency (per year)
0 Not felt by people 800,000
1 Plates and windows start to rattle
2 Small objects move, liquid in glasses move around
3 Ceiling lights swing, books fall off shelves
4 Walls crack 30,000
5 Furniture moves 1,400
6 Some weaker buildings collapse 100
7 Many buildings destroyed 15
8 Total destruction of buildings, bridges and roads over several hundred miles 1 every 5-10 years
9 Devastation in areas over thousands of miles
10 Never recorded

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How do earthquakes have an impact on the environment?

The obvious thing that earthquakes cause are injury or death to people and animals. Homes are destroyed and transport and communication become cut off. Water and power lines may be effected too with the devastation the earthquake brings. Broken gas pipes would cause explosions and fires will then spread.

With settlements destroyed it can cause people to loot (when people steal from homes and businesses). Food and clean water maybe hard to come by and therefore diseases spread.

Entire communities would have to be rebuilt which is very costly. There would be a huge loss of income because of the businesses that are destroyed.

Inside the Haiti Earthquake game siteInside the Haiti Earthquake
Play the role of an aid work, journalist and survivor after the Haiti Earthquake.

How many people are killed by earthquakes every year?

Approximately 13,000 people die every year because of earthquakes.

Disaster Master game websiteDisaster Master
Help the Heroes in a disaster. Tornados, earthquakes, tsunamis and more.
Natural History Museum websiteNatural History Museum – London
Visit the ‘Red Zone’ to see close up what earthquakes do and the devastation it leaves behind.

Also on Super Brainy Beans

Volcanoes link UK Weather link

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