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ShatanaBentley-SC300-BigIdeasInScience-Unit4-Earthquakes -...

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Earthquakes 1 Earthquakes Shatana Bentley October 18, 2011 SC 300: Big Ideas in Science: From Methods to Mutation Professor Maureen Foley
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Earthquakes 2 Earthquakes Our planet is made up of enormous pieces of rock that are slowly but constantly moving. These pieces continually collide with and rub against one another, and sometimes their edges abruptly crack or slip and suddenly release huge amounts of built up energy. “These unsettling events are called earthquakes, and small ones happen across the planet every day, without people even noticing” (Harris & Kiger, 2011). Sometimes there will be many small earthquakes before the big one, these are called foreshocks. Every so often when a big earthquake occurs, and the pulses of energy it releases, called seismic waves, can wreak almost unfathomable destruction and kill and injure many people. After the big earthquake, the main shock, there may be many small quakes once again. These are known as the aftershocks. Aftershocks have been known to follow an earthquake on and off for days or sometimes even for weeks. Most earthquakes occur along the edge of the oceanic and continental plates. The greatest hazard of an earthquake though, at least in terms of sheer magnitude, exists to the north of the San Andreas Fault where the ocean crust is being forced beneath the North American Continent (Mason, 2008). This area is known as the Cascadia Subduction Zone, it is a 680-mile long stretch of colliding land mass that is 50 miles offshore of Oregon, Washington State and southern British Columbia. This area is capable of generating magnitude 9 earthquakes, 30 times more powerful than the worst the San Andreas can dish out (Mason, 2008). Most of the major
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