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Science: Earthquakes

An earthquake is the term used as a result of seismic activity below the surface of the earth. They are mostly caused by the rupture of geological fault lines, but can also be caused by volcanic activity, landslides, mine blasts and nuclear tests.

The Earth is made up of four layers, namely the inner core, the outer core, the mantle and the crust. The crust is the layer just beneath the surface and together with the upper reaches of the mantle is made up of tectonic plates which move past one another. Each of these plates has rough, jagged edges known as plated boundaries which occasionally jar and lock onto one another. When the plates then become unstuck they release energy known as seismic waves which results in an earthquake.

The location where the slip occurs below the ground is called the hypocenter and the point on the surface directly above is what we call the epicenter. The majority of tectonic earthquakes originate at depths not exceeding tens of kilometers. The greater the depth of the hypocenter, the more devastating the effect is at the epicenter. Depths of less than 70km are classified as “shallow-focus,” between 70 and 300km are classed as “mid-focus,” and from 300km+ are called “deep-focus.”

Earthquakes are measured using seismometers which record the power on scales of 1 to 9. An earthquake with a magnitude of three or less go almost unnoticed whereas a magnitude above six will cause serious damage. It is estimated that around 500,000 earthquakes occur each year, detectable with current instrumentation. About 100,000 of these can be felt.

Devastating earthquakes generally occur along plate boundaries such as the San Andreas Fault in California and the Himalayan Mountains. At the time of writing the most recent earthquake of signficance occurred in March 2011 when a magnitude 9.0 seismic wave was recorded off the east coast of Japan. The damage resulted in over 10,000 fatalities. With the rapid growth of mega-cities, seismologists are warning the lives of up to 3 million people could be at risk.

According to scientific data the number of recorded earthquakes has increased dramatically over the last century, but this is most likely due to the fact that the number of seismic station recording earthquakes has increased from about 350 in 1931 to several thousand in 2011. The United States Geological Survey estimates that the average number of earthquakes each year throughout history is fairly consistent.

What are the chances of a mega-earthquake destroying mankind?

The effects of an earthquake cause the ground to shake, and in severe cases, to rupture. These are the great big gaps you see in the ground when land has been torn apart.  Most commonly damage is caused to building, though since the introduction of anti-seismic foundation in skyscrapers, severe damage to many buildings around the globe has been reduced significantly.

Earthquakes can also trigger other disasters such as volcanic eruptions, tidal waves, tsunami´s, floods, landslides, avalanches, wildfires, disease, and soil liquefaction causing buildings to sink and collapse. But for an Earthquake to cause global catastrophe, it will have to be off the scale – something Earth has never witnessed before.

One of the most devastating earthquakes in recorded history occurred on 23 January 1556 in the Shaanxi province of China. It killed more than 830,000 people. The worst earthquake in living memory occurred in Tangshan with an estimated death toll of over 240,000 people. Historically, Earthquakes that caused the greatest loss of life were due to their proximity heavily populated areas, or like the 2004 Indian Ocean disaster, happened below the surface of the ocean and caused a tsunami.

In conclusion, the chances of a mega-earthquake causing global damage in 2012 does not appear likely.

Read more about nostradamus, quatains, prophecies and 2012.

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