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Geosciences LibreTexts

4.2.1: What happens during an earthquake?

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  • The Earth is an active planet, with activity occurring in the oceans, in the atmosphere and in the solid Earth itself. This course looks at a dramatic example of solid Earth activity: earthquakes.

    You probably have some idea from newspapers, television or perhaps personal experience, of just how powerful earthquakes can be. In a matter of minutes earthquakes have devastated cities and killed a quarter of a million people. I was in only a medium-sized earthquake in 1978, but even that had the power to throw me out of bed onto the floor and make the building sway from side to side; an awesome experience.

    One of the most destructive earthquakes of the 1990s occurred near Kobe, Japan, on 17 January 1995. This killed over 5 000 people, injured 25 000 and made a quarter of a million homeless. It was the most destructive Japanese earthquake since the one that killed 143 000 people in Tokyo in 1923.

    Click below to view article from the Guardian on the Kobe earthquake.

    City consumed by flames


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