What causes an earthquake? An earthquake is caused by the vibration of two tectonic plates that hit each other. Each continent and ocean has a tectonic plate which moves slowly and when those plates collide, it causes an earthquake. When the plates are floating around, there is usually a gap between them called a fault line. Earthquakes are the powerful shaking of the ground caused by the collision of tectonic plates of the earth’s rocky crust. Earthquakes sometimes create new things (such as oceans, mountains, volcanoes) or destroy the things that were there before. Depending upon the severity and location (or epicenter) of the earthquake, damage results, including possibly human deaths and home destruction.
Earthquakes are measured in many ways. First, earthquakes can be measured by a seismograph, which is an instrument that detects and records the the seismic waves. Seismic waves are the vibrations that carry energy from the earthquake. Many people also use the Richter scale, which measures how much force an earthquake produces. Scientists also need to figure out how much damage results from the earthquake so they use what is called the Mercalli scale. Engineers use certain tools to help prepare for and protect against serious earthquake damage. For example, shake tables are a great tool to test out building designs. What a shake table does is test a model and replicate different levels of an earthquake. This simulation helps engineers figure out the most enduring designs for a dwelling even after an earthquake hits. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has a huge shake table and they don’t use prototypes, but actual size buildings. This shake table is one of the biggest in America.
What I constructed in school was a shake table. The reason I chose this was because it is such a useful tool. The materials I used to construct it were wire, two pieces of cardboard, a glue gun, and duct tape. The purpose of this shake table was to see which types of buildings will withstand an earthquake. Although my shake table is not comparable to the one at MIT, I think it was well constructed and had the right intent. This was a very interesting unit because I’ve always wondered about earthquakes and why they cause so much damage in some places, and not in others. Earthquakes remain a big global problem and there are many ways we can help prevent the losses and devastation that occur from the shaking ground.