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I have learned a lot about earthquakes these past few weeks. For instance, I had no clue that earthquakes and volcanoes were related. Among the many things I learned, here are a few of the most important things.

What is an Earthquake? - An earthquake is a shaking of the ground caused by the sudden shifting of large sections of the earth's crust. Earthquakes are one of the most powerful events on earth, and they can be terrifying. A severe earthquake may release energy 10,000 times as great as that of the first atomic bomb. Rock movements during an earthquake can make rivers change their direction. Earthquakes can trigger landslides and Volcanoes that cause great damage and loss of life. Large earthquakes beneath the ocean can create a series of huge, destructive waves called tsunamis.

Plate Tectonics - A plate is a large section of the earth's crust. Tectonics is the art or science of making things out of smaller pieces. According to scientists, seven to twelve large plates, and several smaller ones, make up the earth's crust. The earth's plates are continually moving, perhaps as much as several inches a year. As they move, they bump against each other. They can spread apart from each other, or push against each other. Sometimes, during this movement, one plate will move over the top of another. In other places, two plates will slide along next to one another. The area of the crust that breaks is known as a fault. Faults can be seen on the earth's surface. Any areas where faults are common are called fault zones. Four out of any five earthquakes take place around the edge of the Pacific Ocean. This part of the world has come to be known as the "Ring of Fire" because of the numerous volcanoes in the region. It is also an area of great earthquake activity. Earthquakes result when the Pacific Plate and the neighboring plates collide.



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