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Geology Issues: Earthquakes Essay

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Updated: Mar 21st, 2020

The tectonic plates can be discussed as constantly moving together, but these movements are not noticed until the edges of the plates meet each other to cause slipping on a fault. Thus, earthquakes can be defined as the results of the movements of tectonic plates about their faults slipping past each other.

Furthermore, the earthquake is felt and observed as shaking processes caused by the waves of the significant energy noticed when the tectonic plates move or slip past each other influencing the intensity of the movement because of its direction. Thus, the tectonic plates are separated and boundaries are presented as faults, and earthquakes are observed on the faults because it is the place of slipping the edges of the plates.

The direction of the plates’ movements and the sizes of the faults are different as well as the sizes of tectonic plates. From this point, it is necessary to compare the Haitian Earthquake (2010), the Chile Earthquake (2010), and the Illinois Earthquake (2008) in order to conclude about the causes of earthquakes and differences in effects.

Thus, earthquakes are different in their intensity and associated consequences because of differences in the faulting and directions according to which the plates move in relation to each other as well as because of the sizes of the tectonic plates and the amount of energy released after the observed movement.

Earthquakes are different in relation to their intensity because tectonic plates move in relation to each following three directions, and the results of these movements are various because the movement of the plates away from one another (divergent movement), towards each other (compressional movement), and slipping past each (transform boundary) other along with the size of the fault can lead to different devastating effects and losses.

The Haitian Earthquake occurred in 2010, causing “316,000 people killed, 300,000 injured, 1.3 million displaced, 97,294 houses destroyed and 188,383 damaged in the Port-au-Prince area and in much of southern Haiti” (“Haitian Earthquake”). The significant damage and high losses were the results of the earthquake’s nature because it occurred at the boundary of the Caribbean plate and the North America plate, and the plates’ movements were characterized as compressional with the 20 mm/y slip.

Such a motion was too intensive, and it was associated with a combination of “reverse and left-lateral strike slip faulting on the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault system” characteristic for the region. As a result, the magnitude was fixed as 7.0 and the observed depth was 13 km (“Haitian Earthquake”).

The aspects of the Haitian Earthquake should be compared with the features of the Chile Earthquake (2010) because, in spite of the high magnitude of 8.8, the damage and negative effects of the earthquake were less. The depth of the Chile Earthquake was 35 km, and a lot of houses, communications, and water supplies were destroyed as a result of the earthquake.

Thus, the statistics provide the data on “523 people killed, 24 missing, about 12,000 injured, 800,000 displaced and at least 370,000 houses, 4,013 schools, 79 hospitals, and 4,200 boats damaged” (“Chile Earthquake”). Although the earthquake was extremely intensive, the human and economic loss was comparably less while referring to the Haitian Earthquake of 2010.

The Nazca plate and the South American plate moved in relation to the principles of the convergent boundary causing the significant earthquake with realizing a lot of destroying energy (“Chile Earthquake”). However, the effects of the earthquakes associated with the convergent boundary can be discussed as less destructive in comparison with the compressional boundary. Moreover, the location of the fault also contributed to producing stress and further losses.

The Illinois Earthquake observed in 2008 is characterized by the low magnitude of 5.4 and the depth of 11.6 km (“Illinois Earthquake”). The earthquake occurred in the Wabash Valley Seismic zone which can be described with references to “a network of normal faults that trend north-northeastward from Gallatin and White Counties in southern Illinois and adjacent Posey County in southern Indiana” that is why earthquakes in this zone cannot result in significant releases of energies to provoke many losses in relation to the human and economic resources (“Illinois Earthquake”).

The slight damage is the result of the earthquakes associated with the divergent boundary or normal faults because the plates are inclined to move away from one another. Furthermore, rocks are rather weak in their effects and tensions in comparison with the other types of movements. That is why the Illinois Earthquake did not cause significant structural damage or human loss.

Thus, the effects of the Haitian Earthquake, the Chile Earthquake, and the Illinois Earthquake are different because all these earthquakes are characterized by various types of the tectonic plates’ movements which can cause different damages because of the different levels of magnitude. Moreover, the sizes of the tectonic plates and the nature of the faults are also various, and these factors are important to influence the particular features of the boundaries and earthquakes.

Works Cited

Chile Earthquake, February 2010. 2013. Web 16 Oct. 2013. <http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eqinthenews/2010/us2010tfan/>.

Haitian Earthquake, January 2010. 2013. Web 16 Oct. 2013. <http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eqinthenews/2010/us2010rja6/>.

Illinois Earthquake, April 2008. 2013. Web 16 Oct. 2013. <http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/eqinthenews/2008/us2008qza6/>.

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