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„ Earthquakes are a common occurrence due to

plate tectonics on this planet
„ Large earthquakes occur about once a year, but
19.1 Forces Within Earth smaller magnitude 2 earthquakes occur several
hundred times a day
„ A magnitude 6.7 earthquake occurred in
Northridge, California in 1994 and it resulted in
$2 billion in damage
„ Earthquakes of this magnitude happen about 20
times per year

Scenes from Northridge, 1994 Earthquakes

3 Types of Stress
„ Earthquakes can occur when rock fractures or “Stress that causes a material to shorten”
breaks deep within the Earth
„ These fractures are called “faults
„ Faults occur due to stress as tectonic plates
move and snag, so earthquakes most often
originate at or near plate boundaries
STRESS – “the forces per unit area that act on
a material”
„ There are three kinds of stress that act on
Reverse Fault
Earth’s rocks

3 Types of Stress 3 Types of Stress
Tension Shear
“Stress that causes a material to lengthen” “Stress that causes distortion of a material”

Normal Fault Strike-slip Fault

STRAIN – “the deformation of materials in

response to stress”
„ Increasing stress also
increases strain
„ This relationship can be
seen on a graph
Past the elastic
„ Ductile deformation limit permanent
causes permanent deformation occurs
changes in the material, Up to elastic limit the
material will temporarily
even if stress drops to deform, but will return
zero to its regular shape

„ Once the failure point is

reached, breaking occurs
„ In the case of rock this
creates a fracture

„ Since rock at surface is brittle, it undergoes very
little ductile deformation before failing
„ Ductile deformation can increase if :
(1) stress is applied very slowly or,
(2) rock is heated at depth
„ This explain why the asthenosphere is ductile or
“plastic” in nature
„ The fracturing of cooler surface rock creates a
„ The surface along which rocks move is called a
“fault plane”
plane” and movement is shown by arrows

Fa u

lt p
e Hanging Wall

Foot Wall

„ As stress and strain in the rock increases and
the failure point is reached, the breaking of the
material or bond sends out waves of energy
„ These are referred to as “seismic waves”; there
are 3 types:
1. Primary waves (P
(P-wave OR compressional wave)wave)
2. Secondary waves (S
(S- wave OR shear wave)
3. Surface waves
„ P-waves and S-
S-waves are also called “body waves”
because they occur in Earth’s interior
San Andreas fault

Waves Types P-waves squeeze and pull rocks in the same direction
along which the waves are traveling
„ P-waves squeeze and pull rocks in the same direction
along which the waves are traveling
„ Rock is under compression and then tension as the
wave passes
„ S-waves cause rocks to move at right angles to the
direction of the waves
Surface Wave
„ Surface waves move in two directions; up-up-and-
(Rayleigh wave), and side-
to-side (Love wave) at right
angles to the direction of the wave

S-waves cause rocks to move at right angles to the Surface Waves move in two directions; up- up-and-
direction of the waves (Rayleigh wave), and side-
to-side (Love wave) at right
angles to the direction of the wave

Earthquakes Earthquakes
„ Seismic waves originate at the point of failure (called „ The study of earthquake waves is called “seismology
the “focus
”) usually at a depth of several kilometers „ Seismology not only leads to better preparation for the
„ Waves move out from this point in all directions potential dangers of earthquakes, it also lead to a better
„ Directly above the focus at Earth’s surface is the understanding of Earth’s interior
earthquakes “epicenter
“epicenter”” „ Seismometers or seismographs are sensitive devices
used to measure vibrations we can’t feel, from waves
originating at a focus
„ The paper record of these vibrations (waves) is called a
seismogram”, and the three different wave types can
be found on them
„ Travel-
Travel-time graphs are also useful to plot average
travel times of seismic waves

„ P-waves always arrive first at a seismic station implying they Seismic Waves & Earth’s Interior
travel faster and, the separation between P-
P- and S-
increases as distance increases. „ Since they change speed and direction when they
„ The difference between the arrival time of P- P- and S-
S-waves can encounter different materials, seismic waves have been
be used to figure out the distance from the epicenter using a used by earth scientists to determine the internal
travel-time curve structure of the Earth
„ EXAMPLE – there is a 5 second separation between waves

„ As P-
P-waves move from the solid mantle to the
molten outer core they’re refracted (change „ S-waves do not travel through liquids, and they
direction) telling earth scientists that this region disappear when they reach the core telling
must have a different density scientists that this region must be liquid

„ Both P-P- and S-

S-waves travel through the mantle in „ P-waves change direction again when they reach
fairly direct paths so it must be mainly solid the inner core