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Destructive and Constructive Effects of Earthquakes

Last Updated : 24 Jan, 2024
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Effects of Earthquakes: The outermost layers of the Earth are fragmented, and each of these fragmented pieces is called a plate, rather than a single piece. These plates are always in motion. When these plates move, an earthquake occurs and internal disturbances cause shaking. This causes the top layer of the earth,  the so-called crust, to move violently. If these plates rub against each other or one plate collides with the other, the Earth’s crust will be disturbed. It is this disturbance that appears as an earthquake on the surface of the earth. Through this article, let’s understand the different types of earthquakes, why they occur, and the effects of these earthquakes. In geological terms, earthquake is a part of endogenic forces and are often regarded as constructive movements of the earth’s crust, including:

Effects of Earthquake

Effects of Earthquake

  1. Constructive Effects
  2. Destructive Effects

An earthquake is a phenomenon that occurs when two earth masses suddenly slide past each other. The surface on which they slide is called the fault plane or fault plane. The location below the earth’s surface where an earthquake begins is called the epicenter, and the spot just above the earth’s surface is called the epicenter.  An earthquake is sometimes predictable. These are smaller earthquakes that occur at the same location as the larger earthquake that follows.

Scientists can’t say an earthquake is a shock until the biggest one happens. The largest and largest earthquakes are called primary earthquakes. Major tremors are always followed by aftershocks. These are smaller earthquakes that then occur at the same location as the main tremor. Depending on the size of the main tremor, aftershocks can continue for weeks, months, or even years after the main tremor.


Earthquakes are sudden shaking of the ground caused by seismic waves passing through the rocks of the earth. Seismic waves are generated when some form of energy stored in the Earth’s crust is suddenly released. Usually, the rock masses that are pushing against each other suddenly break and “slide”. Earthquakes most often occur along geological faults, which are narrow zones of rock-mass movement. The world’s major fault lines are found along the edges of the vast tectonic plates that make up the Earth’s crust.



Approximately 50,000 earthquakes occur around the world each year and can be detected without the use of instruments. Of these, about 100 are large enough to cause significant damage if their centers are near residential areas. Very strong earthquakes occur about once a year on average. Over the centuries, they have caused millions of deaths and immense damage to property.

Causes of Earthquake 

The Earth’s crust consists of seven major lithosphere plates and many smaller plates. These arrays approach each other (convergence limit), separate from each other (divergence limit), or exceed each other (conversion limit). 

Earthquakes are caused by the sudden release of stress along a fault in the crust. The continuous movement of the tectonic plate causes a continuous pressure buildup in the rock formations on either side of the fault until the stress is large enough to be released by the sudden jerky shakiness. Waves of seismic energy travel through the ground to their surface, causing what we call an earthquake.

Main causes of earthquake

  1. Dams and reservoirs. 
  2. Groundwater pumping. 
  3. Geothermal Power Plants – Salton Sea Geothermal Zone and Geysers Geothermal Zone.
  4. Trace and Injection Wells.
  5. Skyscraper.

Constructive and Destructive Effects of Earthquake 

The energy released by an earthquake can be 10,000 times more powerful than the first atomic bomb

1) Constructive effects

Release in energy 

Earthquakes help the earth release its energy. 

Geomorphological Formation

Many terrains have been created as a result of the earthquake. This also changes the coastline. Earthquakes in the Himalayas have led to the formation of various lakes. In addition, the formation of bays, estuaries, and bays by the earthquake has led to better navigation. As a result of earthquakes, many geomorphological formations are built. It also resulted in the modification of the coastline.

For medical purposes 

Earthquakes lead to the formation of hot springs and geysers that are beneficial for medicinal purposes.

2) Destructive effects 

Ground vibration 

Ground vibrations caused by the passage of seismic waves, especially surface waves near the epicenter of an earthquake are responsible for most of the damage. in the earthquake. The intensity of ground shaking depends on local geological conditions affecting the events: solid bedrock is less susceptible to strong vibrations than loose sediments; the duration and magnitude of earthquakes generally depend on the size of the earthquake; distance: the distance to the epicenter decreases, so the intensity of the tremor decreases. It depends on the type of material underneath the area.

Ground fault 

Ground faults and faults When an earthquake occurs, the ground fault is just where the fault zone moves. Buildings built next to the crack will survive while structures built over these areas will collapse. 


landslides triggered by ground shaking. These landslides are often more destructive than earthquakes. A residential area in Alaska (Turnagain Heights) was destroyed by a landslide that shook as well as downtown Anchorage. 

Damage to man-made structures 

Damage to man-made structures, such as roads, bridges, dams, and buildings due to ground movement depending on the type of structure: Structure concrete and brick masonry are fragile and therefore more susceptible to damage and collapse; damage to wood and structural steel is much less due to its flexibility.


Fires, often involving broken power and gas lines, are a common side effect of earthquakes. Gas is released when the gas lines are broken and a spark will begin to bring “hell”. To make matters more complicated, the water pipeline was broken, so there was no water to put out the fire. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake caused 90% of the fire damage.

Flash floods and rivers are devastating effects of earthquakes 

Flooding can come from many sources such as broken water pipes, earthquake dams, and earthquake-generated tsunamis. When an earthquake breaks a dam or levee along a river, water from the river or reservoir floods the area, damaging buildings, and possibly dragging or drowning people. In the past, earthquakes have altered the flow of rivers, rendering many areas unsuitable for irrigation and agriculture.


Small tsunamis, known as seismic waves, occur over lakes shaken by earthquakes and are usually only a few feet high. These small tsunamis have the potential to destroy homes and uproot trees. Tsunamis occur most often in the Pacific Ocean but are a worldwide phenomenon.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to prevent yourself from an earthquake? 

We cannot prevent natural earthquakes from occurring, but we can greatly reduce their effects by identifying hazards, building safer structures, and providing training courses. earthquake safety. By preparing for natural earthquakes, we can also reduce the risk of man-made earthquakes.

Where is the safest place to hide yourself during an earthquake? 

Close your head and neck (and your entire body if possible) under a sturdy table or table. If there is no shelter nearby, get down near an interior wall or next to low furniture so you don’t fall, and cover your head and neck with your arms and hands.

Do humans are one of the causes of earthquakes?  

Mining, dam construction and cracking are among the causes. And although we’ve known for a long time that humans can influence seismic activity, researchers were surprised to find that human activity has caused strong earthquakes. magnitude 7.9 and the number of earthquakes is clearly increasing in some parts of the world.

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