Test Your Earthquake Smarts

by Paul Konrardy

Test Your Earthquake Smarts

Can people sense earthquakes? Do earthquakes occur in Antarctica? Is there an “earthquake” season?

Test your earthquake smarts with these seven true-or-false statements, with information pulled from the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) website. Want to know more? Check out our earthquake section, then visit the USGS earthquake section, the Great Shake-Out website, the Earthquake Country Alliance website and the Berkeley Seismology Lab Earthquake Preparedness section.

1. Scientists can predict major earthquakes.
An earthquake prediction must define three elements: 1) the date and time, 2) the location, and 3) the magnitude. USGS scientists can only calculate the probability that a significant earthquake will occur in a specific area within a certain number of years.

2. Earthquakes occur more often in certain types of weather condition (earthquake weather).
Statistically, there is approximately an equal distribution of earthquakes in any type of weather: hot, cold, rainy, etc. However, very large low-pressure changes associated with major storm systems are known to trigger episodes of fault slip (slow earthquakes) in the Earth’s crust and may also play a role in triggering some damaging earthquakes. However, the numbers are small and are not statistically significant.

3. An earthquake won’t cause the ground to open up.
True. While shallow crevasses can form during earthquake-induced landslides, lateral spreads, or from other types of ground failures, faults do not open up.

4. Some people are “earthquake sensitive.
False. While some claim they experience certain symptoms right before an earthquake, there is no scientific explanation and more often than not, those symptoms aren’t followed by an earthquake.

5. Human activity can cause earthquakes.
True. Some examples of manmade causes of earthquakes include impoundment of reservoirs, surface and underground mining, withdrawal of fluids and gas from the subsurface, and injection of fluids into underground formations.

6. The best place to be in an earthquake is in your kitchen.
Your safest place indoors is under a desk or table (Drop, Cover, and Hold on!). Stay away from windows, fireplaces, and heavy furniture or appliances and out of the kitchen, where items can fall on you.

7. If you live on the East Coast of the U.S., you don’t have to worry about earthquakes.
Severe earthquakes have occurred in the Eastern U.S. Earthquakes have been recorded in every State east of the Mississippi and damaging earthquakes have occurred historically in nearly every eastern State.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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