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Earthquake

Global earthquake epicenters, 1963–1998

An earthquake is a sudden and sometimes catastrophic movement of a part of the Earth's surface. Earthquakes result from the dynamic release of elastic strain energy that radiates seismic waves. Earthquakes typically result from the movement of faults, planar zones of deformation within the Earth's upper crust. The word earthquake is also widely used to indicate the source region itself. The Earth's lithosphere is a patch work of plates in slow but constant motion (see plate tectonics). Earthquakes occur where the stress resulting from the differential motion of these plates exceeds the strength of the crust. The highest stress (and possible weakest zones) are most often found at the boundaries of the tectonic plates and hence these locations are where the majority of earthquakes occur. Events located at plate boundaries are called interplate earthquakes; the less frequent events that occur in the interior of the lithospheric plates are called intraplate earthquakes (see, for example, New Madrid Seismic Zone). Earthquakes related to plate tectonics are called tectonic earthquakes. Most earthquakes are tectonic, but they also occur in volcanic regions and as the result of a number of anthropogenic sources, such as reservoir induced seismicity, mining and the removal or injection of fluids into the crust. Seismic waves including some strong enough to be felt by humans can also be caused by explosions (chemical or nuclear), landslides, and collapse of old mine shafts, though these sources are not strictly earthquakes.

Characteristics

Large numbers of earthquakes occur on a daily basis on Earth, but the majority of them are detected only by seismometers and cause no damage .

Most earthquakes occur in narrow regions around plate boundaries down to depths of a few tens of kilometres where the crust is rigid enough to support the elastic strain. Where the crust is thicker and colder they will occur at greater depths and the opposite in areas that are hot. At subduction zones where plates descend into the mantle, earthquakes have been recorded to a depth of 600 km, although these deep earthquakes are caused by different mechanisms than the more common shallow events. Some deep earthquakes may be due to the transition of olivine to spinel, which is more stable in the deep mantle.

Large earthquakes can cause serious destruction and massive loss of life through a variety of agents of damage, including fault rupture, vibratory ground motion (i.e., shaking), inundation (e.g., tsunami, seiche, dam failure), various kinds of permanent ground failure (e.g. liquefaction, landslide), and fire or a release of hazardous materials. In a particular earthquake, any of these agents of damage can dominate, and historically each has caused major damage and great loss of life, but for most of the earthquakes shaking is the dominant and most widespread cause of damage. There are four types of seismic waves that are all generated simultaneously and can be felt on the ground. S-waves (secondary or shear waves) and the two types of surfaces waves (Love waves and Rayleigh waves) are responsible for the shaking hazard.

Damage from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Section of collapsed freeway after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

Most large earthquakes are accompanied by other, smaller ones, that can occur either before or after the principal quake — these are known as foreshocks or aftershocks, respectively. While almost all earthquakes have aftershocks, foreshocks are far less common occurring in only about 10% of events. The power of an earthquake is distributed over a significant area, but in the case of large earthquakes, it can spread over the entire planet. Ground motions caused by very distant earthquakes are called teleseisms. The Rayleigh waves from the Sumatra-Andaman Earthquake of 2004 caused ground motion of over 1 cm even at the seismometers that were located far from it, although this displacement was abnormally large. Using such ground motion records from around the world it is possible to identify a point from which the earthquake's seismic waves appear to originate. That point is called its "focus" or "hypocenter" and usually proves to be the point at which the fault slip was initiated. The location on the surface directly above the hypocenter is known as the "epicenter". The total size of the fault that slips, the rupture zone, can be as large as 1000 km, for the biggest earthquakes. Just as a large loudspeaker can produce a greater volume of sound than a smaller one, large faults are capable of higher magnitude earthquakes than smaller faults are.

Earthquakes that occur below sea level and have large vertical displacements can give rise to tsunamis, either as a direct result of the deformation of the sea bed due to the earthquake or as a result of submarine landslips or "slides" directly or indirectly triggered by it.

Earthquake Size

The first method of quantifying earthquakes was intensity scales. In the United States the Mercalli (or Modified Mercalli, MM) scale is commonly used, while Japan (shindo) and the EU (European Macroseismic Scale) each have their own scales. These assign a numeric value (different for each scale) to a location based on the size of the shaking experienced there. The value 6 (normally denoted "VI") in the MM scale for example is:

Everyone feels movement. People have trouble walking. Objects fall from shelves. Pictures fall off walls. Furniture moves. Plaster in walls might crack. Trees and bushes shake. Damage is slight in poorly built buildings. No structural damage.

A Shakemap recorded by the Pacific Northwest Seismograph Network that shows the instrument recorded intensity of the shaking of the Nisqually earthquake on February 28, 2001. A Community Internet Intensity Map generated by the USGS that shows the intensity felt by humans by ZIP Code of the shaking of the Nisqually earthquake on February 28, 2001.

The problem with these scales is the measurement is subjective, often based on the worst damage in an area and influenced by local effects like site conditions that make it a poor measure for the relative size of different events in different places. For some tasks related to engineering and local planning it is still useful for the very same reasons and thus still collected. If you feel an earthquake in the US you can report the effects to the USGS.

The first attempt to qualitatively define one value to describe the size of earthquakes was the magnitude scale (the name being taking from similar formed scales used on the brightness of stars). In the 1930s, a California seismologist named Charles F. Richter devised a simple numerical scale (which he called the magnitude) to describe the relative sizes of earthquakes in Southern California. This is known as the “Richter scale”, “Richter Magnitude” or “Local Magnitude” (ML). It is obtained by measuring the maximum amplitude of a recording on a Wood-Anderson torsion seismometer (or one calibrated to it) at a distance of 600km from the earthquake. Other more recent Magnitude measurements include: body wave magnitude (mb), surface wave magnitude (Ms) and duration magnitude (MD). Each of these is scaled to gives values similar to the values given by the Richter scale. However as each is also based on the measurement of one part of the seismogram they do not measure the overall power of the source and can suffer from saturation at higher magnitude values (larger events fail to produce higher magnitude values).These scales are also empirical and as such there is no physical meaning to the values. They are still useful however as they can be rapidly calculated, there are catalogues of them dating back many years and are they are familiar to the public. Seismologists now favor a measure called the seismic moment, related to the concept of moment in physics, to measure the size of a seismic source. The seismic moment is calculated from seismograms but can also by obtained from geologic estimates of the size of the fault rupture and the displacement. The values of moments for different earthquakes ranges over several order of magnitude. As a result the moment magnitude (MW) scale was introduced by Hiroo Kanamori, which is comparable to the other magnitude scales but will not saturate at higher values.

Larger earthquakes occur less frequently than smaller earthquakes, the relationship being exponential, ie roughly ten times as many earthquakes larger than 4 occur in a particular time period than earthquakes larger than magnitude 5. For example it has been calculated that the average recurrence for the United Kingdom can be described as follows:

  • an earthquake of 3.7 or larger every 1 year
  • an earthquake of 4.7 or larger every 10 years
  • an earthquake of 5.6 or larger every 100 years.

Causes

Most earthquakes are powered by the release of the elastic strain that accumulate over time, typically, at the boundaries of the plates that make up the Earth's lithosphere via a process called Elastic-rebound theory. The Earth is made up of tectonic plates driven by the heat in the Earth's mantle and core. Where these plates meet stress accumulates. Eventually when enough stress accumulates, the plates move, causing an earthquake. Deep focus earthquakes, at depths of 100's km, are possibly generated as subducted lithospheric material catastrophically undergoes a phase transition since at the pressures and temperatures present at such depth elastic strain cannot be supported. Some earthquakes are also caused by the movement of magma in volcanoes, and such quakes can be an early warning of volcanic eruptions. A rare few earthquakes have been associated with the build-up of large masses of water behind dams, such as the Kariba Dam in Zambia, Africa, and with the injection or extraction of fluids into the Earth's crust (e.g. at certain geothermal power plants and at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal). Such earthquakes occur because the strength of the Earth's crust can be modified by fluid pressure. Earthquakes have also been known to be caused by the removal of natural gas from subsurface deposits, for instance in the northern Netherlands. Finally, ground shaking can also result from the detonation of explosives. Thus scientists have been able to monitor, using the tools of seismology, nuclear weapons tests performed by governments that were not disclosing information about these tests along normal channels. Earthquakes such as these, that are caused by human activity, are referred to by the term induced seismicity.

Another type of movement of the Earth is observed by terrestrial spectroscopy. These oscillations of the earth are either due to the deformation of the Earth by tide caused by the Moon or the Sun, or other phenomena.

A recently proposed theory suggests that some earthquakes may occur in a sort of earthquake storm, where one earthquake will trigger a series of earthquakes each triggered by the previous shifts on the fault lines, similar to aftershocks, but occurring years later.

Preparation for earthquakes

  • Emergency preparedness
  • Household seismic safety
  • Seismic retrofit
  • Earthquake prediction

Specific fault articles

  • Alpine Fault
  • Calaveras Fault
  • Hayward Fault Zone
  • North Anatolian Fault Zone
  • New Madrid Fault Zone
  • San Andreas Fault

Specific earthquake articles

  • Shaanxi Earthquake (1556). Deadliest known earthquake in history, estimated to have killed 830,000 in China.
  • Cascadia Earthquake (1700).
  • Kamchatka earthquakes (1737 and 1952).
  • Lisbon earthquake (1755).
  • New Madrid Earthquake (1811).
  • Fort Tejon Earthquake (1857).
  • Charleston earthquake (1886). Largest earthquake in the Southeast and killed 100.
  • San Francisco Earthquake (1906).
  • Great Kanto earthquake (1923). On the Japanese island of Honshu, killing over 140,000 in Tokyo and environs.
  • Kamchatka earthquakes (1952 and 1737).
  • Great Chilean Earthquake (1960). Biggest earthquake ever recorded, 9.5 on Moment magnitude scale.
  • Good Friday Earthquake (1964) Alaskan earthquake.
  • Ancash earthquake (1970). Caused a landslide that buried the town of Yungay, Peru; killed over 40,000 people.
  • Sylmar earthquake (1971). Caused great and unexpected destruction of freeway bridges and flyways in the San Fernando Valley, leading to the first major seismic retrofits of these types of structures, but not at a sufficient pace to avoid the next California freeway collapse in 1989.
  • Tangshan earthquake (1976). The most destructive earthquake of modern times. The official death toll was 255,000, but many experts believe that two or three times that number died.
  • Great Mexican Earthquake (1985). 8.1 on the Richter Scale, killed over 6,500 people (though it is believed as many as 30,000 may have died, due to missing people never reappearing.)
  • Whittier Narrows earthquake (1987).
  • Armenian earthquake (1988). Killed over 25,000.
  • Loma Prieta earthquake (1989). Severely affecting Santa Cruz, San Francisco and Oakland in California. Revealed necessity of accelerated seismic retrofit of road and bridge structures.
  • Northridge, California earthquake (1994). Damage showed seismic resistance deficiencies in modern low-rise apartment construction.
  • Great Hanshin earthquake (1995). Killed over 6,400 people in and around Kobe, Japan.
  • İzmit earthquake (1999) Killed over 17,000 in northwestern Turkey.
  • Düzce earthquake (1999)
  • Chi-Chi earthquake (1999).
  • Nisqually Earthquake (2001).
  • Gujarat Earthquake (2001).
  • Dudley Earthquake (2002).
  • Bam Earthquake (2003).
  • Parkfield, California earthquake (2004). Not large (6.0), but the most anticipated and intensely instrumented earthquake ever recorded and likely to offer insights into predicting future earthquakes elsewhere on similar slip-strike fault structures.
  • Chuetsu Earthquake (2004).
  • Indian Ocean Earthquake (2004). One of the largest earthquakes ever recorded at 9.0. Epicenter off the coast of the Indonesian island Sumatra. Triggered a tsunami which caused nearly 300,000 deaths spanning several countries.
  • Sumatran Earthquake (2005).
  • Fukuoka earthquake (2005).
  • Kashmir earthquake (2005). Killed over 79,000 people. Many more at risk from the Kashmiri winter.
  • Lake Tanganyika earthquake (2005).

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A recently proposed theory suggests that some earthquakes may occur in a sort of earthquake storm, where one earthquake will trigger a series of earthquakes each triggered by the previous shifts on the fault lines, similar to aftershocks, but occurring years later. Parallels include:. These oscillations of the earth are either due to the deformation of the Earth by tide caused by the Moon or the Sun, or other phenomena. Original series producer Glen Larson is a member of this church. Another type of movement of the Earth is observed by terrestrial spectroscopy. Less apparent are references to the theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (more commonly known as the Mormon church). Earthquakes such as these, that are caused by human activity, are referred to by the term induced seismicity. If the universe began then, the 21st century would have marked the seventh millennium.

Thus scientists have been able to monitor, using the tools of seismology, nuclear weapons tests performed by governments that were not disclosing information about these tests along normal channels. In the 1978 pilot episode, the president of the Colonies referenced that they were "approaching the seventh millennium of time." Some Bible scholars assert the seven days of creation described in the Book of Genesis occurred in the fourth millennium B.C. Finally, ground shaking can also result from the detonation of explosives. He tries to convince members of the colonial fleet to follow him, as demons do in Christianity and Islam. Earthquakes have also been known to be caused by the removal of natural gas from subsurface deposits, for instance in the northern Netherlands. The character Count Iblis in the 1978 series was inspired by the demon Iblis in Islamic mythology. Such earthquakes occur because the strength of the Earth's crust can be modified by fluid pressure. The word "Adama" in Hebrew means "Earth.".

at certain geothermal power plants and at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal). Several of the characters in the series have names corresponding to significant characters in Greek mythology, including Apollo and Cassiopeia. A rare few earthquakes have been associated with the build-up of large masses of water behind dams, such as the Kariba Dam in Zambia, Africa, and with the injection or extraction of fluids into the Earth's crust (e.g. The twelve colonies are named after the astrological signs of the Greek zodiac; for example, Scorpia (Scorpio), Caprica (Capricornus), and Aquaria (Aquarius). Some earthquakes are also caused by the movement of magma in volcanoes, and such quakes can be an early warning of volcanic eruptions. A Battlestar Galactica video game has been published on the Sony PlayStation 2 and Microsoft Xbox platforms. Deep focus earthquakes, at depths of 100's km, are possibly generated as subducted lithospheric material catastrophically undergoes a phase transition since at the pressures and temperatures present at such depth elastic strain cannot be supported. Marvel Comics published a short-lived comic book series based upon the show between 1978 and 1981.

Eventually when enough stress accumulates, the plates move, causing an earthquake. In the 1990s, original series star Richard Hatch co-wrote several new novels based upon the series as part of his efforts to spark a revival. Where these plates meet stress accumulates. A number of Battlestar novels based upon the series have been published over the years, including a mixture of novelizations based upon televised episodes (including the pilot episodes of both the original series and Galactica 1980) and original stories. The Earth is made up of tectonic plates driven by the heat in the Earth's mantle and core. As of January 2006, the second half of the second season began broadcasting in the United States, while the full season premiere ('Scattered') aired on Sky One in the UK on 10th January 2006. Most earthquakes are powered by the release of the elastic strain that accumulate over time, typically, at the boundaries of the plates that make up the Earth's lithosphere via a process called Elastic-rebound theory. The sampler strategy was similar to past efforts at NBC to assist other cable siblings' shows, such as a counter-programming block of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy opposite the Super Bowl airing on a competing broadcast network.

For example it has been calculated that the average recurrence for the United Kingdom can be described as follows:. NBC additionally aired three selected first season episodes as a sampler to entice new American viewers in advance of the second season premiere in July 2005. Larger earthquakes occur less frequently than smaller earthquakes, the relationship being exponential, ie roughly ten times as many earthquakes larger than 4 occur in a particular time period than earthquakes larger than magnitude 5. Sci Fi Channel — on January 9, 2005, five days before the American debut of the series. As a result the moment magnitude (MW) scale was introduced by Hiroo Kanamori, which is comparable to the other magnitude scales but will not saturate at higher values. A highly edited version of the miniseries aired on NBC — a corporate sibling of the U.S. The values of moments for different earthquakes ranges over several order of magnitude. Featuring critically acclaimed, veteran actors in Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell, the new series began in earnest in October 2004 in the UK, and January 2005 in North America.

The seismic moment is calculated from seismograms but can also by obtained from geologic estimates of the size of the fault rupture and the displacement. This miniseries was so successful that Sci-Fi opted to develop this new, reimagined version of Galactica into a television series. Seismologists now favor a measure called the seismic moment, related to the concept of moment in physics, to measure the size of a seismic source. In December 2003, the American Sci Fi channel broadcast a four-hour miniseries that reimagined Battlestar Galactica. They are still useful however as they can be rapidly calculated, there are catalogues of them dating back many years and are they are familiar to the public. A weekly new Galactica series on Sci-Fi followed in January 2005. However as each is also based on the measurement of one part of the seismogram they do not measure the overall power of the source and can suffer from saturation at higher magnitude values (larger events fail to produce higher magnitude values).These scales are also empirical and as such there is no physical meaning to the values. Edward James Olmos stepped into the role of Commander Adama.

Each of these is scaled to gives values similar to the values given by the Richter scale. Moore as the creative force behind it. Other more recent Magnitude measurements include: body wave magnitude (mb), surface wave magnitude (Ms) and duration magnitude (MD). Despite attempts to revive the series over the years, none came to fruition until it was reimagined in 2003 by the Sci-Fi Channel with Ronald D. It is obtained by measuring the maximum amplitude of a recording on a Wood-Anderson torsion seismometer (or one calibrated to it) at a distance of 600km from the earthquake. This video, titled "Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming," was displayed at science fiction conventions but did not lead to a new series. This is known as the “Richter scale”, “Richter Magnitude” or “Local Magnitude” (ML). Hatch even went so far as to produce a demonstration video in the mid-1990s which featured several actors from the original series combined with state-of-the-art special effects.

Richter devised a simple numerical scale (which he called the magnitude) to describe the relative sizes of earthquakes in Southern California. The original series maintained a cult fandom, which has supported efforts by Glen Larson and Richard Hatch (independent of each other) to revive the premise. In the 1930s, a California seismologist named Charles F. Some syndication packages for Battlestar Galactica incorporate the episodes of this series. The first attempt to qualitatively define one value to describe the size of earthquakes was the magnitude scale (the name being taking from similar formed scales used on the brightness of stars). The show also included obviously recycled space battle sequences from the original program, to the great dismay of fans. If you feel an earthquake in the US you can report the effects to the USGS. This series was a quick failure due to its low budget, widely-panned writing, and ill-placed time slot (Sundays at 7:00 PM, a time slot generally reserved for family-oriented programming and, more specifically, 60 Minutes).

For some tasks related to engineering and local planning it is still useful for the very same reasons and thus still collected. In this 1980 sequel series, the fleet finds Earth and covertly protects it from the Cylons. The problem with these scales is the measurement is subjective, often based on the worst damage in an area and influenced by local effects like site conditions that make it a poor measure for the relative size of different events in different places. Despite the early success of the premiere, the weekly series failed to deliver and Galactica 1980 was unceremoniously cancelled after only ten episodes. No structural damage. Again, it was decided this new version of Galactica would be made into a weekly series. Damage is slight in poorly built buildings. A new television movie entitled Galactica 1980 was rushed into production.

Trees and bushes shake. A suitable concept would be needed to draw viewers, and it was decided that the arrival of the Colonial Fleet at contemporary Earth would be the storyline. Plaster in walls might crack. Larson to consider a relaunch of the series. Furniture moves. During the autumn of 1979, ABC executives met with Galactica's creator Glen A. Pictures fall off walls. Citing declining ratings and cost overruns, ABC cancelled Battlestar Galactica in April, its last episode "The Hand of God" premiering on April 29, 1979.

Objects fall from shelves. During the eight months after the three-hour pilot episode aired, 17 original episodes of the series were aired (five of them two-parters), totaling 25 hours of broadcasting. People have trouble walking. It was first broadcast on ABC on September 17, 1978. Everyone feels movement. Opening on July 7, 1978, the theatrical release did quite well given modest expectations. The value 6 (normally denoted "VI") in the MM scale for example is:. To defray costs, the pilot was recut as a theatrical release which played in Canada, Europe and Japan.

These assign a numeric value (different for each scale) to a location based on the size of the shaking experienced there. The three-hour-long pilot episode starred Lorne Greene, Richard Hatch and Dirk Benedict. In the United States the Mercalli (or Modified Mercalli, MM) scale is commonly used, while Japan (shindo) and the EU (European Macroseismic Scale) each have their own scales. The three-hour pilot was released in theaters, and instead of two additional movies, a weekly television series followed. The first method of quantifying earthquakes was intensity scales. Initially, Battlestar Galactica was envisioned by Larson as a series of made-for-TV movies (a three-hour pilot and two two-hour episodes) for the ABC television network. Earthquakes that occur below sea level and have large vertical displacements can give rise to tsunamis, either as a direct result of the deformation of the sea bed due to the earthquake or as a result of submarine landslips or "slides" directly or indirectly triggered by it. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed in 1980.

Just as a large loudspeaker can produce a greater volume of sound than a smaller one, large faults are capable of higher magnitude earthquakes than smaller faults are. Universal promptly countersued, claiming Star Wars had stolen ideas from the 1972 film Silent Running (notably the robot "drones") and the Buck Rogers serials of the 1940s. The total size of the fault that slips, the rupture zone, can be as large as 1000 km, for the biggest earthquakes. In fact, 20th Century Fox sued Universal Studios (the studio behind Battlestar Galactica) for plagiarism, claiming that it had stolen 34 distinct ideas from Star Wars. The location on the surface directly above the hypocenter is known as the "epicenter". Battlestar Galactica was finally produced in the wake of the success of the 1977 film Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. That point is called its "focus" or "hypocenter" and usually proves to be the point at which the fault slip was initiated. Larson, the Executive Producer of Battlestar Galactica, has stated in interviews that he originally conceived of the Galactica premise in the late 1960's, which he originally called Adam's Ark. However, he was unable to get the project greenlit for many years.

Using such ground motion records from around the world it is possible to identify a point from which the earthquake's seismic waves appear to originate. Glen A. The Rayleigh waves from the Sumatra-Andaman Earthquake of 2004 caused ground motion of over 1 cm even at the seismometers that were located far from it, although this displacement was abnormally large. . Ground motions caused by very distant earthquakes are called teleseisms. The title is sometimes formatted with a colon as Battlestar: Galactica, but it is more commonly seen without. The power of an earthquake is distributed over a significant area, but in the case of large earthquakes, it can spread over the entire planet. Under the leadership of the famed military leader Commander Adama, the Battlestar Galactica and her crew take up the task of leading the "ragtag fleet" of survivors into space in search of a fabled refuge known as Earth.

While almost all earthquakes have aftershocks, foreshocks are far less common occurring in only about 10% of events. Of all the Colonial Fleet, the Battlestar Galactica appears to be the only ship which survived the attack. Most large earthquakes are accompanied by other, smaller ones, that can occur either before or after the principal quake — these are known as foreshocks or aftershocks, respectively. The last few thousands of human survivors flee into space aboard any spacecraft they can reach. S-waves (secondary or shear waves) and the two types of surfaces waves (Love waves and Rayleigh waves) are responsible for the shaking hazard. The Colonies have long been at peace with a cybernetic race known as the Cylons, but with the cooperation of a human collaborator named Baltar, the Cylons launch a sudden, coordinated, and unprovoked attack on the Colonies, laying waste to the planets and devastating their populations. There are four types of seismic waves that are all generated simultaneously and can be felt on the ground. In a distant part of the galaxy, there exists a civilization of humans who live on planets known as the Twelve Colonies.

In a particular earthquake, any of these agents of damage can dominate, and historically each has caused major damage and great loss of life, but for most of the earthquakes shaking is the dominant and most widespread cause of damage. All of the Battlestar Galactica productions share the same general premise. liquefaction, landslide), and fire or a release of hazardous materials. There are also a series of book adaptations, original novels, comic books, and video games that have been based on the concept. Large earthquakes can cause serious destruction and massive loss of life through a variety of agents of damage, including fault rupture, vibratory ground motion (i.e., shaking), inundation (e.g., tsunami, seiche, dam failure), various kinds of permanent ground failure (e.g. Battlestar Galactica is a franchise of American science fiction films and television series, the first of which was produced in 1978. Some deep earthquakes may be due to the transition of olivine to spinel, which is more stable in the deep mantle. In Mormon theology, the star closest to the Throne of God is called Kolob.

At subduction zones where plates descend into the mantle, earthquakes have been recorded to a depth of 600 km, although these deep earthquakes are caused by different mechanisms than the more common shallow events. The system which is believed to be the original home of the human race is Kobol. Where the crust is thicker and colder they will occur at greater depths and the opposite in areas that are hot. The beings on the Ship of Light say, "as you are, we once were; as we are, you may one day be", a parallel to the Mormon belief that even God was once a human being. Most earthquakes occur in narrow regions around plate boundaries down to depths of a few tens of kilometres where the crust is rigid enough to support the elastic strain. Marriages in the Battlestar Galactica mythos as well as in the Mormon religion are sealed for eternity. Large numbers of earthquakes occur on a daily basis on Earth, but the majority of them are detected only by seismometers and cause no damage . A president who is assisted by two counselors and a Quorum of the Twelve Apostles preside over the Mormon Church.

. A Council of Twelve, headed by a president, governs the colonies. Seismic waves including some strong enough to be felt by humans can also be caused by explosions (chemical or nuclear), landslides, and collapse of old mine shafts, though these sources are not strictly earthquakes. In The Book of Mormon is the teaching that during the reign of king Zedekiah (about 600 BC), two separate groups left Jerusalem and ended up in the Americas; a remnant (or 'thirteenth tribe') of the twelve tribes of Israel. Most earthquakes are tectonic, but they also occur in volcanic regions and as the result of a number of anthropogenic sources, such as reservoir induced seismicity, mining and the removal or injection of fluids into the crust. Therefore, when Moses led them from Egypt back to their promised land, they are divided into thirteen tribes for purposes of inheritance. Earthquakes related to plate tectonics are called tectonic earthquakes. As Israel's favorite son, Joseph received a double inheritance.

Events located at plate boundaries are called interplate earthquakes; the less frequent events that occur in the interior of the lithospheric plates are called intraplate earthquakes (see, for example, New Madrid Seismic Zone). In the Old Testament, Israel had twelve sons. The highest stress (and possible weakest zones) are most often found at the boundaries of the tectonic plates and hence these locations are where the majority of earthquakes occur. But there are some parallels that may have inspired this 'Thirteenth Tribe' idea:

    . Earthquakes occur where the stress resulting from the differential motion of these plates exceeds the strength of the crust. In Mormonism, there is no doctrinal or cultural reference to a 'Thirteenth Tribe'. The Earth's lithosphere is a patch work of plates in slow but constant motion (see plate tectonics). Central to the plot of the series is a legendary thirteenth colony, somewhere far distant from the twelve that are known.

    The word earthquake is also widely used to indicate the source region itself. The race of humanity is led by Commander Adama, whose name bears similarity to that of Adam, the first human. Earthquakes typically result from the movement of faults, planar zones of deformation within the Earth's upper crust. Earthquakes result from the dynamic release of elastic strain energy that radiates seismic waves. An earthquake is a sudden and sometimes catastrophic movement of a part of the Earth's surface.

    Lake Tanganyika earthquake (2005). Many more at risk from the Kashmiri winter. Killed over 79,000 people. Kashmir earthquake (2005).

    Fukuoka earthquake (2005). Sumatran Earthquake (2005). Triggered a tsunami which caused nearly 300,000 deaths spanning several countries. Epicenter off the coast of the Indonesian island Sumatra.

    One of the largest earthquakes ever recorded at 9.0. Indian Ocean Earthquake (2004). Chuetsu Earthquake (2004). Not large (6.0), but the most anticipated and intensely instrumented earthquake ever recorded and likely to offer insights into predicting future earthquakes elsewhere on similar slip-strike fault structures.

    Parkfield, California earthquake (2004). Bam Earthquake (2003). Dudley Earthquake (2002). Gujarat Earthquake (2001).

    Nisqually Earthquake (2001). Chi-Chi earthquake (1999). Düzce earthquake (1999). İzmit earthquake (1999) Killed over 17,000 in northwestern Turkey.

    Killed over 6,400 people in and around Kobe, Japan. Great Hanshin earthquake (1995). Damage showed seismic resistance deficiencies in modern low-rise apartment construction. Northridge, California earthquake (1994).

    Revealed necessity of accelerated seismic retrofit of road and bridge structures. Severely affecting Santa Cruz, San Francisco and Oakland in California. Loma Prieta earthquake (1989). Killed over 25,000.

    Armenian earthquake (1988). Whittier Narrows earthquake (1987). 8.1 on the Richter Scale, killed over 6,500 people (though it is believed as many as 30,000 may have died, due to missing people never reappearing.). Great Mexican Earthquake (1985).

    The official death toll was 255,000, but many experts believe that two or three times that number died. The most destructive earthquake of modern times. Tangshan earthquake (1976). Caused great and unexpected destruction of freeway bridges and flyways in the San Fernando Valley, leading to the first major seismic retrofits of these types of structures, but not at a sufficient pace to avoid the next California freeway collapse in 1989.

    Sylmar earthquake (1971). Caused a landslide that buried the town of Yungay, Peru; killed over 40,000 people. Ancash earthquake (1970). Good Friday Earthquake (1964) Alaskan earthquake.

    Biggest earthquake ever recorded, 9.5 on Moment magnitude scale. Great Chilean Earthquake (1960). Kamchatka earthquakes (1952 and 1737). On the Japanese island of Honshu, killing over 140,000 in Tokyo and environs.

    Great Kanto earthquake (1923). San Francisco Earthquake (1906). Largest earthquake in the Southeast and killed 100. Charleston earthquake (1886).

    Fort Tejon Earthquake (1857). New Madrid Earthquake (1811). Lisbon earthquake (1755). Kamchatka earthquakes (1737 and 1952).

    Cascadia Earthquake (1700). Deadliest known earthquake in history, estimated to have killed 830,000 in China. Shaanxi Earthquake (1556). San Andreas Fault.

    New Madrid Fault Zone. North Anatolian Fault Zone. Hayward Fault Zone. Calaveras Fault.

    Alpine Fault. Earthquake prediction. Seismic retrofit. Household seismic safety.

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