What is an earthquake?
An earthquake is a sudden, violent shaking of the ground caused by the sudden release of energy in the Earth’s lithosphere that creates seismic waves. Earthquakes range in size from those so weak people cannot feel them to those so violent they destroy cities.
The word earthquake describes any seismic event, whether natural or caused by humans, that generates seismic waves. Earthquakes are caused by:
Find out more about why they happen here.
The point where an earthquake starts is known as its focus (or hypocentre). The point on the surface of the Earth, directly above the focus, is called the epicentre.
An earthquake’s power is measured on the Richter scale using an instrument called a ‘seismometer’.
The effects of an earthquake can be devastating; they can destroy settlements, change landscapes and cause many deaths.
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