Each year, there are roughly 500,000 earthquakes worldwide, 100,000 of which can actually be felt. Out of those, Southern California alone has 10,000 earthquakes each year. The deadliest earthquake to-date is said to have occurred in 1556 China. Caves, where people lived in at the time, collapsed and caused the death of approximately 830,000 people. With all of this in mind, what causes earthquakes? We answer this below along with where most earthquakes occur and precautions you can take to protect yourself.
What Causes Earthquakes?
According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, “An earthquake is caused by a sudden slip on a fault.” So, when tectonic plates are slowly moving and they get stuck, this causes stress resulting in an earthquake. Specifically for California, the reason it has so many earthquakes each year is because it is on two tectonic plates – The North American Plate and The Pacific Plate. The San Andreas Fault, which is 650 miles long, separates these two plates.
Where Do Most Earthquakes Occur?
Most earthquakes occur along the Pacific Ring of Fire, Mid-Atlantic Ridge, and Alpide Belt.
- The Pacific Ring of Fire Belts goes from Chile, northwards towards South, Central, and North America. 81% of the world’s earthquakes occur along this belt.
- The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is along the Atlantic Ocean’s floor, separating the Eurasian, North American, and African Continental Plates.
- The Alpide Belt spans from the Indonesian Islands of Java across the Himalayan area of the Indian subcontinent to Central Asia, and into the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. This belt accounts for 17% of the world’s earthquakes each year.
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Earthquake Precautions You Can Take To Protect Yourself
Before An Earthquake:
- Get all of the safety essentials including a first aid kit, flashlight, extra batteries, and fire extinguisher.
- Come up with a location to meet your family at after an earthquake hits.
- Put heavy or breakable items in a location where they won’t fall.
- Know how to turn off your gas, electricity, and water.
- Pack an emergency bag in case you need to evacuate.
During An Earthquake:
- Avoid using any flames since a gas line could easily break during the earthquake.
- Don’t try to relocate. If your indoors, outside, or in a car, stay where you are.
- Avoid using the elevator if at all possible.
- If you’re indoors, stay away from windows, and stand against a wall, in a doorway, or crawl under a table or desk.
- If you’re outdoors, stay clear of buildings and powerlines that could fall.
After An Earthquake:
- Avoid any broken debris and damaged areas around you.
- Make sure to check your gas, electric, and water lines for damage before turning them back on.
- Check yourself for injuries.
- Follow your own or your town’s earthquake emergency plan, if any.
- Prepare to feel some earthquake aftershocks.
Well, that’s everything you need to know about what causes earthquakes, where they mostly occur, and precautions you can take.
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