Earthquakes, which occur in both hemispheres, are natural occurrences that
can't be avoided. Even though seismic equipment is used to predict a trembler,
it still can't prevent the mass destruction that results from the natural event.
Because the earth's tectonic plates are continually moving and shifting,
earthquake activity must continuously be monitored and tracked. Stories and
legends have also sprung up as the result of earthquakes, including a number of
interesting data and facts. The following information provides further details
about this earth-shattering phenomenon.
March 2011 - Search and Rescue Workers Arrive in Ofunato,
15) Japanese Mythology Holds a Catfish Responsible for Earthquakes
scientists discovered that earthquakes were caused by the shifting of plates
beneath the Earth's mantle, ancient societies came up with their own
explanations. As a results, several societies resorted to using mythological
reasons for the shaking and rattling of the earth. According to the Japanese,
earthquakes were caused by a giant catfish named Namazu.
Namazu or Catfish Motif Earthquake Piece (1855):
Namazu was the ideal way to explain why the ground shook as the giant catfish
also offered a reason for tsunamis too. Because fish were eaten by the Japanese
regularly, it really wasn't surprising that a catfish caused the major tremblers
to occur. Imagining the size of the catfish was beyond comprehension.
Nevertheless, Namazu was an easy way to explain away the seismic activity
through mythological means.
Depicts the Deity Ebisu Falling Asleep While Guarding the
Foundation Stone, Allowing Namazu to Destroy Edo (1855):
14) According to Hindu Mythology, Earthquakes Are Caused by a Stack of
Since earthquakes were not isolated to just the Japanese islands, the
Hindu culture also started creating their own mythology as to what could be
causing the quakes. According to Hindu mythology, the world was perched
precariously on top of a stack of animals. Eight giant elephants supported the
weight of the Earth on their large shoulders. These eight elephants all stood
atop the giant back of a turtle, which, in turn, stood on a coiled snake. If any
of the animals in the stack moved, the earth would rattle and shake.
This mythological story was a relatively easy way to explain the reason for
an earthquake as it was based on many of the religious beliefs in the Hindu
culture. As it was simpler to draw on already established beliefs to explain
things that could not be understood, a country's religious beliefs or cultural
practices played heavily into the reasons for the quakes. For example, the
Greeks believed that Poseidon, who was the god of the sea, also caused
earthquakes when he was angry. He struck the ground with his trident, making the
whole earth shake - another way to explain something that, at that point in
time, could not be explained.
13) The 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake Created Tons of Energy
Earthquakes generate a massive amount of energy when they occur. In fact,
scientists have determined that more energy is created in a single quake than
what is produced in a nuclear explosion. Since scientists have not found any way
to harness the energy, it simply reverberates over the land, creating mass
destruction. If the power could be captured, it would create enough energy to
make all other forms of green energy obsolete. A case in point is the Indiana
Ocean earthquake of 2004. This trembler produced enough energy to power businesses
and homes in the U.S. for a period of three days.
2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake Energy Displacement:
The energy that is created by an earthquake is a result of the interaction
between the earth’s tectonic plates. As one plate moves against another, a
chemical reaction occurs that creates the force. This energy is used to heat the
plates so they are converted back into the magma, or molten rock, just beneath
the crust - a type of recycling process that recurs time and again.
2004 Tsunami in Ao Nang, Thailand:
12) Aftershocks Are Nothing More than the Mantle Readjusting
earthquakes are not related to any direct shifting of the crust. Instead, the
earth's mantle is just adjusting itself to any changes that have occurred
beneath it. As the outer layer or crust moves, the mantle, which makes up the
bulk of the earth, is adapting to the moment. In turn, the rocky layer and core
beneath may form crevasses, settle or buckle. When settling occurs, the ground
shakes. Aftershocks can take place for days, months, or even years after an
earthquake. It just depends on the severity of the quake, how the mantle was
affected, and any resulting changes occurring beneath the rocky core.
Most aftershocks are felt in locales where earthquakes regularly happen. The
ground constantly has to adopt to the alterations in the mantle and the crust.
Therefore, aftershocks are normal in such areas as Japan and California (where
they are known as tremors). Buildings in these areas are made to resist the
effects of tremors and quakes.
11) The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 Occurred before the Invention of the
Of all the earthquakes that have occurred in history, the San Francisco
earthquake of 1906 was considered one of the most destructive. Because the
city's infrastructure at the time was not designed to handle seismic activity,
the trembler caused excessive damage and destruction. The Richter scale, which
measures the magnitude of quakes, had yet to be invented.
estimate that the quake would have registered about 7.8 on the scale - a
relatively small earthquake by modern standards.
Ruins Near Post and Grant Avenue Looking Northeast - San
Francisco Earthquake of 1906:
Most of the damage that occurred resulted from the fires that were caused by
the quake. Gas pipes erupted during the fiasco, which caused the city to burn
for three days.
San Francisco Following Earthquake and Fire of 1906 - Click
Approximately 90 percent of the city's damage can be attributed
to the burst pipes. Fortunately, San Francisco has the means today to avoid
earthquake-related problems, such as cracked pipes.
10) Parkfield, California Is Known as the Earthquake Capital of the World
Of all the places in the world that have earthquakes, the city of Parkfield,
California is known as the “Earthquake Capital Of The World." Parkfield holds
this distinction because it sits right on the fault line, and therefore has
higher occurrence of earthquakes than almost anywhere else in the world. The city
has been built with the specific purpose of withstanding the worst quakes that
can be dished out. Safeguards have been incorporated in the infrastructure to
resist earthquake impact as well.
This Bridge Straddles the San Andreas Fault Line:
In fact, the city features a bridge that spans two tectonic plates. Also
known as the San Andreas Fault Bridge, the connection has become bent because of
seismic activity. However, the bridge is still designed to withstand direct hits
from major quakes. The U.S. Geological Survey uses Parkfield as a monitoring
location for earthquake activity.
2004 Park Field Earthquake USGS Eastern Monterey County,
9) Earthquakes Occur More Often in the Northern Hemisphere Than in the
If you don't like the idea of being victimized by a quake,
then your odds are better if you live in the Southern Hemisphere. That's because
more tectonic plates are located in the Northern Hemisphere, thus the reason for
Because a quake won't occur without the shifting of the plates,
the Southern Hemisphere experiences less earthquake activity. Still, the above
fact doesn't make the Southern Hemisphere safer when quakes do occur. Massive
tremblers still can occur south of the equator. Because there are fewer tectonic
plates, there is less of a frequency.
8) The Highest Tsunami on Record Was 228 Feet High in 1771
Tsunamis are a result of earthquakes that occur within the ocean. These
oceanic tremblers can create a wave that will travel hundreds of miles before it
wreaks havoc on a land mass or town. Interestingly, the waves that occur in the
middle of the ocean do little more than pick up surface items and lay them back
down. Therefore, boats in the middle of the ocean are usually not destroyed by
Tsunami Following Japanese Earthquake in 2011:
The biggest threat caused by the waves is on the land. As a wave gets closer
to the land, it clashes with the force of the water that is going out, or away
from the shore. When the waters meet, the wave expands and therefore becomes a
danger to anyone on the beach.
More From the 2011 Japan Earthquake:
The biggest tsunami recorded was 228 feet high and occurred in 1771. It hit
Japan and completely obliterated Ishigaki Island. Even small tsunamis are known
to reach hundreds of miles inland and destroy properties. Buildings and homes
are hardest hit along the shore, with the wave often completely annihilating
structures in its way. Cars, trucks and other land vehicles are frequently
washed out to sea as well. Japan has been hurt quite extensively because of
7) Eighty Percent of the World’s Biggest Earthquakes Occur Near the “Ring of
The "Ring of Fire" is a geographic area that is made up of some of the most
active tectonic plates on earth. It is so named because these plates cause
volcanic eruptions as well as earthquakes throughout the area. Because of these
plates, most of history's largest quakes have taken place in this area.
The "Ring of Fire" spans from New Zealand to eastern Asia, and then runs
through the Aleutian Islands and Alaska, before resuming its course along the
coasts of North and South America. The Pacific plate, and other massive tectonic
plates, all contribute to the volcanic area in this bounded area - naturally a
concern for people living in the "Ring."
Types of Tectonic Plate Boundaries:
Volcanic and seismic activity in this area is impacted when the plates
beneath the earth dip back into the planet's center and melt into molten rock or
magma. The molten material is then forced through the earth's rocky mantle, all
which creates new land to replace what is lost.
6) The First Earthquake Detector Was Made 2,000 Years Ago
While people believe that earthquake detectors are recent inventions, the
actual technology was first invented by an ancient Chinese astronomer by the
name of Zhang Heng (A.D. 78-139). The detector, which was of course primitive by
modern standards, could detect tremblers over 370 miles away. Plus, the detector
was used at a time when many people still believed that quakes came about
Han Dynasty Chinese Scientist and Statesman Zhang Heng:
The detectors used today then are nothing more than updated versions of this
original design. Basically, the detector is made to sense the earth's movement,
both near and far. By the use of detection, it is possible to prepare for quakes
that may occur closer to home. Although the technology can't forecast an
earthquake, it can track an area so people are aware of the the activity.
Zhang Heng's Primitive Earthquake and First Seismograph:
5) The Largest Most Recent Earthquake Took Place in 1960
One of the most massive earthquakes took place in 1960 in the Southern
Hemisphere. Recording a reading of 9.5 on the Richter scale, the quake occurred
in Chile. The earthquake, which caused massive ocean waves that extended 6,000
miles from its epicenter, had a rupture zone spreading more than 497 miles in
Fortunately, since the event, Chile has been able to rebuild and
reconstruct its infrastructure. Although this area is not part of the "Ring of
Fire," it is connected to one of the major tectonic plates that is linked to the
1960 Earthquake Damage to Wood-frame Houses in Valdivia,
4) Animals Are Well Known for Detecting Earthquakes
Besides manmade detectors, animals also have the ability to sense when an
earthquake is ready to strike. Two main schools of thought offer explanations in
this regard. Either animals may feel the slight vibrations of a quake before it
strikes or they detect a change in the air flow before a trembler occurs.
Damage to Wakuya, Japan Following 2011 Earthquake:
The sensitivity animals feel can be shown when birds suddenly fly from trees
or animals become nervous without any apparent explanation. Because animals
seemingly know when a quake is about to occur, humans have gotten in the habit,
over time, of keeping them in close proximity, especially in areas that
experience large instances of quakes.
Bay Bridge Collapse From Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989:
3) Humans Can Also Detect Earthquakes
Even though humans cannot sense minor tremors in the ground or the changes in
electrical signals, there are ways in which humans can detect earthquakes
without any kind of technology. Humans often detect quakes by scent. In other
words, before a quake happens, ponds and canals will smell differently. That's
because underground gases are released into the water - a scent that is closely
akin to sulfur. People who live close to the water then can detect the change
before anyone else as they are accustomed to the environment.
Humans can also detect a change because of the way the ground feels. Before
an earthquake, the ground will increase in temperature for seemingly no reason
at all. This is because the ground is starting to react to the plates rubbing
together. While the ground will not become unbearably hot, it will feel warmer
as a result. You can notably tell the difference if you are touching the ground
with your bare skin. Therefore, a change in temperature can be noted if you are
walking barefoot or lying on the ground.
Sumatra, Indonesia Devastated by the Earthquake and Tsunami
2) The San Andreas Fault Moves Two Inches Each Year
One of the most active faults in the world is the San Andreas Fault. This is
the fault that runs along the California coast, which some people believe may
cause the state to eventually fade away. The fault is extremely active as the
plates in the area cause the ground to move two inches every year -
approximately the same speed that fingernails grow.
Map of San Andreas Fault System:
Because of the movement,
California has the second highest frequency of quakes in the U.S. Only Alaska
experiences more earthquakes.
Because of the fault movement, scientists have predicted that Los Angles and
San Francisco will sit side by side in the next 15 million years. While this
rate of change is pretty slow by human standards, it notes a fairly rapid
progression with respect to the earth. As a result, many people who study quakes
use California as their center for research.
Diagrams Showing Plate-tectonic Evolution of the San
Andreas Fault System:
1) The Longest Fault Is the San Andreas Fault
Besides being an active fault, the San Andreas Fault is also the longest
known fault in the world. Referred to as a slip-strike fault, the San Andreas
Fault is about 800 miles in length. It goes all the way from San Francisco to
parts of Mexico. The fault has been responsible for many of the massive
earthquakes that have taken place throughout the area.
Index Map Showing Locations of Surface Traces of the San
Andreas Fault System:
Rather than being one
fault though, the San Andreas Fault is actually several interconnected faults,
all which are part of one massive fault system. As a result, the area along the
San Andreas experiences both quakes and aftershocks. Activity along the fault is
in direct response to one plate moving under the other. As more land is created
by the rock melting into magma, each plate has the power to keep moving and
producing more quakes.
Earthquakes cannot be prevented, but the more we know about them, the easier
it is to prepare for these natural disasters. The above information details just
a few of the interesting facts scientists and historians know about tremblers
and tremors. Knowing about earthquakes enables people to prepare for them even
if they can't predict when they will occur.