The ground is constantly moving in Southern California. Almost every day there are small shifts of the rock beneath the surface that would go unnoticed except for the dutiful recordings of seismic equipment throughout the region. When the rocks bump against each other, they can crack, break and slip, which causes a release of energy. The motion (slipping) continues until the rock gets stuck.
The term earthquake is used to describe these seismic events, both large and small. The earthquake’s “focus” is the location underground where the slip occurs, and the epicenter is the aboveground position of the quake. A slip can release enough force to cause damage to buildings, roads, bridges and other structures surrounding the earthquake’s epicenter. Sometimes the energy released by a quake can be felt hundreds of miles away from the epicenter.
An earthquake can occur at many different depths below the surface. The closer it is to the surface, the more damage it will cause to man-made structures. Earthquakes typically take place on fault lines, which is where two large plates of rock rub against each other. For years seismologists have been predicting that residents in the Los Angeles area will be hit by a large quake with a magnitude of 6.7 or greater. A major earthquake can uproot trees, collapse buildings, bridges and parking structures, and buckle roads.
Earthquake preparation is important, and can help prevent injuries and property damage. Securing appliances with bolts can minimize movement and stop gas lines from breaking. Hanging objects such as light fixtures, mirrors and pictures should also be secured, as well as large pieces of furniture that can fall over if the ground shakes.
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Posted on Tuesday, May 7th, 2019.