10 Interesting Facts about Earthquake Most People Don’t Know

Mechanism of an Earthquake

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Tectonic earthquakes occur anywhere in the earth where there is sufficient stored elastic strain energy to drive fracture propagation along a fault plane. In the case of transform or convergent type plate boundaries, which form the largest fault surfaces on earth, they move past each other smoothly and aseismically only if there are no irregularities  along the boundary that increase the frictional resistance. Most boundaries do have such asperities and this leads to a form of stick-slip behaviour. Once the boundary has locked, continued relative motion between the plates leads to increasing stress and therefore, stored strain energy in the volume around the fault surface. This continues until the stress has risen sufficiently to break through the irregularity, suddenly allowing sliding over the locked portion of the fault, releasing the stored energy. This energy is released as a combination of radiated elastic strain seismic waves, frictional heating of the fault surface, and cracking of the rock, thus causing an earthquake. This process of gradual build-up of strain and stress punctuated by occasional sudden earthquake failure is referred to as the Elastic-rebound theory . Earthquakes in volcanic regions are caused there, both by tectonic faults and the movement of magma in volcanoes.