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An Earthquake

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An earthquake is a shaking of the ground caused by the sudden dislocation of material within the earth's outer layer, or crust. Some earthquakes are so slight, that they are barely felt. Others are so violent that they cause extensive damage.

Earthquakes take place or have taken place in all parts of the world. A great deal of volcanoes are also found at the border of the Pacific Ocean, and volcanoes set off many earthquakes. Japan, the Philippine Islands, New Guinea, and New Zealand are all part of the Pacific seismic belt.
A second seismic belt produces 15% of seismic activity. It goes through southern Asia to the region of the Mediterranean Sea. The final 5% of seismic energy comes from parts of the Arctic, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. Antarctica and Australia experience the least amount of earthquake activity then any other areas of the world.

Earthquakes produce various damaging effects to the areas they act upon. This includes damage to buildings and in worst cases the loss of human life. The effects of the rumbling produced by earthquakes usually leads to the destruction of buildings, bridges, and dams. They can also trigger landslides. An example of how an earthquake can lead to even more destruction is the 1959 earthquake near Hebgen, Montana. It caused a land slide that killed several people and blocked the Madison River. Due to the fact that the Madison River was blocked, a lake was created which later flooded the nearby town of Ennis.

Besides producing floods and destroying buildings, earthquakes that take place under the ocean can sometimes cause tsunamis, or tidal waves. Tsunamis are high and long walls of water which travel at a very rapid rate. They can destroy entire populations and cities near coastlines. In 1896 Sanriku, Japan, with a population of 20,000, suffered such a fate.

Attempts at predicting when and where earthquakes will occur have met with some success in recent years. This allows the researchers to further study and make predictions about a coming earthquake and the damage it will bring. At present, China, Japan, Russia, and the United States are the countries most actively supporting such research.

How to protect yourself during an earthquake?
1. If an earthquake is occuring the most important thing is to fall on to the floor and get under something for protection. During an earthquake, if you are indoors, it is very important to stay calm and take cover under a heavy object.
2. If you are outdoors, stay as far away from buildings as possible.
3. Stay away from glass or anything that could fall.
4. If you are in a crowded area, do not even consider running for the nearest exit. Crowding will lead to even more injuries.
5. Be prepared for aftershocks after the initial earthquake has ended. Aftershocks are follow-up earthquakes. They are smaller than the first one, but still are very dangerous.


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