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12 things you didn't know about earthquakes

  • Published at 11:11 am January 14th, 2016
12 things you didn't know about earthquakes

While the recent earthquake has the country talking about safety measures, here's a list of fascinating facts (and some myths) about earthquakes that you probably didn't know.

1. Every year, earthquakes kill approximately 8,000 people and have caused an estimated 13 million deaths in the last 4,000 years.

2. Earthquakes can be caused by volcanic eruptions and meteor impacts, but they are mainly triggered by the movement of the earth's plates. Landslides, nuclear testing and mine tests can also trigger minor earthquakes.

3. There are about 20 constantly moving plates on the earth's surface and their movement generates pressure that can cause the crust to break. The energy generated from this break travels through the earth in the form of waves (aka seismic waves), which are also known as earthquakes.

4. The most powerful earthquake recorded was a magnitude 9.5 in Chile on May 22, 1960.

5. The Chilean earthquake in 1960 generated seismic waves that travelled around the world, shaking the entire globe for many days.

6. The devastating tsunamis that hit the world on December 26, 2004 was the aftermath of an undersea earthquake in the Indian Ocean. The tsunamis struck the coasts of most landmasses along the Indian Ocean, creating 100-foot waves and killing over 225,000 people in 11 countries.

7. The energy generated from the Indian Ocean earthquake in 2004 was enough to power all homes and offices in the US for three days.

8. Quakes occurring on one side of Earth are capable of shaking the other side. The Indian Ocean earthquake in 2004 weakened a portion of California's San Andreas Fault.

9. In 1556, the world’s deadliest recorded earthquake occurred in central China. It struck an area where most people lived in caves. These caves collapsed during the earthquake, taking lives of about 830,000 people.

10. Moonquakes (earthquakes on the moon) take place less frequently and usually have smaller magnitudes than the quakes on Earth. They also occur at great depths, approximately halfway between the surface and the centre of the moon.

11. The interior of Antarctica has icequakes that take place more frequently than earthquakes in Antarctica. They are relatively very weak and occur within the ice sheet itself, instead of the land underneath the ice. During these icequakes, observers can hear the ice sheet cracking.

12. A recent research suggests that rats and toads can sense and flee an area before an earthquake takes place.