Sample Geology Paper on Deadliest Earthquakes
- How did scientist Eric Calais determine that the risk of a major earthquake in Haiti was due to happen at some point? What happened to his testing site when the 2010 earthquake occurred?
Scientist Eric Calais determined that there was a risk of a major earthquake in Haiti using GPS markers fixed on the top of buildings. The GPS marker at his testing site shifted horizontally by more than 30 centimeters during the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
- The film shows an animation of material from deep in the earth upwelling to form new crust. Based on our class discussions, what type of plate boundary is this?
This is a convergent plate boundary.
- What type of plate boundary is present at Haiti and what plates are involved?
The plate boundary present in Haiti is a transform boundary, and the plates involved are the North American plate and the Caribbean plate.
- The same type of plate boundary is present in California. But why are there more and larger earthquakes in California versus Haiti?
The plate boundary found in California is San Andrea, and it has a movement that is three times the speed of Haiti shifting at a rate of more than an inch per year. This makes it generate more stress energy that results in earthquakes of higher magnitudes.
- How are scientists looking for precursors of major earthquakes in the Anza State Park area of California?
Scientists have planted sensors 800 feet below the ground in Anza Stare Park. These sensors are expected to record changes in vibrations and pressure below the earth, indicative of sudden movements along the boundary of tectonic plates that usually results in an earthquake.
- In 2010, another major earthquake struck, this time in Chile. What was the magnitude of this earthquake and what is the plate boundary type (and plates involved)?
The earthquake that struck Chile had a magnitude of 8.8. The plates that were involved were the Nazca Plate and the South American plate. The type of boundary found between these plates is a convergent boundary, and it was responsible for the higher magnitude of the earthquake.
- What type of hazard occurred with the 2010 earthquake in Chile that was not a factor in Haiti? Explain how this hazard occurs.
The type of hazard that occurred in the 2010 earthquake in Chile was a megathrust that resulted in a tsunami that engulfed the coastal villages in the country. One of the two plates that were pushing into each other was thrust upwards in the middle of the ocean, causing a massive wave that traveled across the sea to the coastline at the speed of 500 miles per hour.
- Why was the loss of life in Haiti so much greater than in Chile in 2010?
The loss of life in Haiti was amplified by the fact that the city of Port Au Prince was densely populated and had buildings that were not adapted for the possible earthquakes in the region. Further, the epicenter of the earthquake was in the city. This was not the case in Chile, where the epicenter was far into the ocean and there was sparse population and buildings.
- Explain how “Shake Alert”’ in California emits warnings and how it might be help reduce damages and loss of life.
The Shake Alert system detects the P-waves of an incoming earthquakes and issues an alert to a network of computers and emergency agencies. An alert is issued to the population and emergency agencies to have them prepare adequately before the destructive S-waves reach California.
- How can buildings be designed to provide a safer protection from earthquake damage and loss of life?
Building can be designed in a manner that allows for them to withstand vertical and horizontal movements caused by earthquakes. This is made possible by either using floating foundations or counterweights at the top of buildings.
- Lastly, comment on something new that you learned from the film.
I found it surprising and at the same time discouraging to learn that scientists have no way of predicting an earthquake days or months in advance. They just know that it will occur, but cannot really identify the exact date and time.