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Hypothetical New York Earthquake Case Essay

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Updated: May 15th, 2021

Suppose there was a hypothetical earthquake off of the coast of New York. You are commissioned by the mayor of New York to draft a report describing exactly how this had occurred. What would your report say? Include in your answer the various aspects of plate tectonics and plate movement.

New York is situated on the Atlantic coast that is characterized as a tectonically calm and passive margin. However, even despite the absence of seismic activity, the city has many faults (Toor). Therefore, the following faults would be included in the report as potential causes of the earthquake:

  • the 125th Street fault is the largest of all. It extends from New Jersey to the East River, runs along the street. One part of the fault runs into Roosevelt island whereas another part extends to the northern end of Central Park;
  • the East River fault looks like “an obtuse angle,” and its top portion runs parallel to the west of Central Park. The fault then takes a horizontal turn near 32nd Street, extends into the East River, and stops near Brooklyn (Toor);
  • the Dyckman Street fault is situated in Inwood. The fault crosses the Harlem River and moves into Morris Heights;
  • the Mosholu Parkway fault is located to the north of the 125th Street and Dyckman Street faults;
  • the Dobbs Ferry fault is located just outside the city in suburban Westchester;
  • the Ramapo fault extends from eastern Pennsylvania to the mid-Hudson Valley (Toor).

The investigation of the mentioned faults may help to identify the origin of the earthquake and predict the possibility of another one. Another part of the report to the mayor would concern the analysis of plate movement and plate tectonics. As is known, earthquakes occur when there is a movement of tectonic plates. New York is situated in a non-seismic zone, so an earthquake in this city would urge the thorough search for changes in tectonic boundaries in the area. Plate tectonics may serve as an effective predictive theory (Garrison and Ellis 97). Thus, it would be necessary to include in the report the data available on plates on which New York and the nearby regions are located. This information would help to make conclusions about the causes of the earthquake.

The plates float on a deformable asthenosphere and can move freely in relation to each other (Garrison and Ellis 77). The interaction between plates can occur along their boundaries. Sometimes, plates slide along one another. Then, they overlap, and a gap occurs. Plates’ movement can be divergent, convergent, or transformational (Garrison and Ellis 77). In the case of divergent boundaries, two plates move apart. In convergent movement, the plates move toward one another and merge. Transform, or transverse, boundaries occur when two plates slide past each other (Garrison and Ellis 77).

The study of earthquakes allows understanding layering better (Garrison and Ellis 63). The forces causing earthquakes appear due to seismic waves. Some of these waves can diffuse through the Earth, bending or reflecting on their way (Garrison and Ellis 63). Finally, the waves may reappear at the Earth’s surface. The thorough analysis of the location and time of the waves’ occurrence allowed scientists to study the planet’s interior. Seismic waves are divided into two types: body and surface. Surface waves move along the surface of the Earth. They ripple the free external part of the area and can be seen “as an undulating wavelike motion” in the ground (Garrison and Ellis 63). Body waves do not produce such a dramatic effect, but their analysis helps to investigate the interior structure of the Earth.

Works Cited

Garrison, Tom, and Robert Ellis. Oceanography: An Invitation to Marine Science. 9th ed., CENGAGE Learning, 2016.

Toor, Faraz. “Spectrum News NY1. 2018. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Hypothetical New York Earthquake Case'. 15 May.

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