Earthquakes For Kids

Earthquake Facts

Earthquakes can sometimes be really scary things, but they are very interesting in how they form and why they do. Let’s take a look at all you need to know about earthquakes and fill your brain with knowledge!

What is an earthquake?

Earthquakes are a sudden and quick shock of the Earth’s surface. 

earthquake facts

Earthquakes are actually a type of way that the Earth gets rid of some tension, just like you and I do, except we don’t rock the world.

Wow, this is quite something. More than a million earthquakes happen on Earth every single year. Surprisingly they normally last for less than a minute, but can sure cause some damage.

Wouldn’t it be great if some brainy scientists created some sort of warning system that earthquakes were coming? Well they can’t unfortunately. But who knows what the future might bring. If we knew they were coming we could prepare for them and they wouldn’t cause as much chaos.

What causes an earthquake?

There are things called plates that run along the surface of the Earth. They are always moving about and pushing into each other. This is a very slow process, but they do like to bump into each other a bit.

When they are moving around, sometimes they get squeezed or stretched. When this happens rocks form around the edges.

The rocks then move with humongous force and when this happens, we get an earthquake.

what causes an earthquake

When that force is big enough, the crust of the Earth literally breaks. When this break happens, that massive energy moves through the Earth. It’s almost like waves, but obviously a lot bigger. That is exactly what an earthquake is. 

What is a fault line?

Earthquakes are formed along fault lines. This is an area of stress in the Earth. At fault lines the rocks are sliding past each other and will eventually cause a crack in the Earth’s surface.

fault line

What are plate tectonics?

Plate tectonics are where continents move from one place to the next and they break apart as they move crashing into each other. This is another way that earthquakes are formed. 

These plates as they are called move in all sorts of directions and at different speeds too. Sometimes they collide or crash or pull apart from each other. This movement is what also causes earthquakes.  

What is a seismograph?

A seismograph is a machine that is used to measure the strength and the length of an earthquake. 

seismograph

What is a tsunami? 

You might be wondering what in the world a tsunami has to do with an earthquake, well read on and find out more.

  • A tsunami is a large ocean wave which is normally caused by an earthquake that happens underwater or from a volcanic explosion.
  • They aren’t tidal waves but are actually caused from the forces of the moon and the sun and other planets in our solar system which affects tides.
  • Tidal waves are not only caused by the solar system, but they can also be caused by wind as it makes its way across the water.
  • You might have noticed when swimming in the ocean that with normal waves flow in a circular movement. Well a tsunami is quite a different thing altogether. With a tsunami, the water flows straight, and this is what causes these frightening things to happen. It would not be cool to see a tsunami heading in your direction, you certainly wouldn’t be able to outrun it! 

tsunami wave

What is a Richter Scale?

A Richter scale measures the strength of an earthquake. Each one-point increase on the scale indicates ten times the amount of shaking and 33 times the amount of energy. The energy released by a large earthquake may be equal to 10,000 times the energy of the first atomic bomb. Wow, that’s unbelievable!

The most powerful earthquake ever recorded on Earth was in Valdivia, Chile. It happened in 1960, and measured 9.5 on the Richter scale. That is one extremely massive earthquake!

Richter scale

Interesting Facts about Earthquakes

  • 80% of the world’s earthquakes happen in the Pacific Ocean near Japan in a place called the ‘Ring of Fire’.
  • Sadly about 10,000 people die in earthquakes each year. Most of the deaths are when people are trapped in falling buildings.
  • Alaska has more earthquakes than any other US state. They have had about 12,000 earthquakes in the last 30 years. They are followed by California, Hawaii, Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana and Utah. Now you know where NOT to live!
  • Now you are all ‘earth-quaked’ up and know how earthquakes form. One thing to remember is to stay out of their way if you can! Have we left any facts out that you know of?