An earthquake is a sudden tremor of the earth’s surface or below and occurs naturally due to various factors (Cari 4). Earthquakes start either underneath or on the exterior of the earth’s crust depending on the basis that led to the tremble or tremor. The magnitude of an earthquake measures the amount of energy released by an earthquake when tectonic plates shift against each other causing sudden tremors (Cari 8). There are various types of earthquakes depending on the cause of the earthquake hence have different effects and damage to property and loss of life. This study aims at explaining the differences in the magnitude of damage caused by earthquakes. This study will make use of three different groups of earthquakes depending on the damage and magnitude to explain the difference in the damage caused by earthquakes.
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Three earthquakes are taken into consideration in this study that including the Haitian earthquake of January 2010, which was of high magnitude and caused high damage and loss, the second is the Chile earthquake in February 2010 that was of high magnitude but caused less damage and loss. The third earthquake considered is April 2008, Illinois earthquake that was of less magnitude and caused less damage and loss. There are various causes of earthquakes, which include the shifting and sloping of the tectonic plates against each other. When shifting continues, resulting in breaking due to increased shifting, it releases a high wave of energy, which flows through the earth inform of an earthquake causing damage to property and loss of lives. Thrust faulting is the other cause of earthquakes as the compression and squeezing of rocks within the earth’s plates causes the generation of strong forces. Another cause of quakes is the movement of molten rock inside cracks and fissures in rocks causing stresses translating to discharge of vigorous waves hence form volcanic earthquakes. Realignment of fault lines and plates after an earthquake may lead to aftershocks and foreshocks, therefore, considered another cause of earthquakes.
The Haitian earthquake was of high magnitude and caused devastating damage and loss of property in Eastern Haiti. The eastward movement of the Caribbean plate in relation to the North American plate caused the Haitian earthquake in January 2010 of magnitude of 7 (Taft-Morales 16).The rupture of the faults along the plates Caribbean North American plates and caused uplift of the Leogane delta caused the earthquake. There have been various aftershocks in Haiti after the earthquake and recorded magnitude of at most 4.5. The Haitian earthquake caused high damage leaving 316,000 people dead, 300,000 injured, and 1.3 million people displaced (Taft-Morales 12). The earthquake caused destruction of 97,294 houses and damages to 188,383 others. The above statistics depict devastating effects of the earthquake and mainly due to the high population density of the affected areas. The other reason for the damage is low economic development levels and corruption, which led to the construction of sub-standard buildings.
The second kind of earthquake is high magnitude earthquake that have less damage and loss with a case study of the Chile earthquake. The Chile earthquake had a magnitude of 8.8 and the placid sloping of the Nazca plate eastward and under the South American plate engendered the earthquake. A rupture of the fault between the plates led to the generation of the earthquake that also resulted in the tsunami. At least, 523 people lost their lives and 24 people went missing while 12,000 were injured. The earthquake caused damages of 370,000 houses, 79 hospitals, and 4,013 schools including 4,200 boats. Interruption of power, water delivery, and connections in airports include the other effects of the earthquake. In comparison to the Haitian earthquake with a magnitude of seven, the Chile earthquake caused less damage to despite having a high magnitude of 8.8.
The third kind of earthquake demonstrated by their causes and effects is the low magnitude, low loss, and damage type. The case is the April 2008, Illinois earthquake, which had a magnitude of 5.4 and had mild damage, which included minor, structural damages to building in various areas. Movement in the Wabash Valley fault system caused the Illinois earthquake.
The main reasons why the Haitian and the Sichuan earthquakes were more devastating than the others vary. The main reason for the devastating effects of the Haitian and Sichuan earthquakes is hilly and mountainous setting of the places, hence significant effects of the tremor and shaking on the surface leading to the great damage. The other reason is the depth of the earthquakes, which were near the surface leading to high shaking rates hence increased damage. The ignorance of engineer building and architectural requirements in the building also contributed to the increased damages as the building’s architectural design could not withstand shaking during the earthquake. The other reason for high damage and devastating effects of Haiti and Sichuan earthquakes is the high-density population in Haiti and Sichuan province.
In conclusion, the main causes of earthquakes are the movement of plate tectonics, which cause stress between rocks translating to release of strong waves forming earthquakes. The main effects of earthquakes are property damage and the loss of lives. Effects of earthquakes differ forming three groups of earthquakes, which are high magnitude, high damage and loss, high magnitude low damage and loss and low magnitude low damage and loss earthquake. The depth, topography, population density and the construction style of the areas affected by the earthquake determine the effects of earthquakes.
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Cari, Meister. Earthquakes, Minneapoilis: ABDO, 1999. Print.
Taft-Morales, Maureen. Haiti Eartquake: Crisis and Response,Philadelphia: Diane Publishing, 2011. Print.