9 Things I Learned About Earthquakes This Week

Aug 29 at 12pm

After Sunday's 6.0 quake in Napa, I realized I knew very little about earthquakes and decided to do some digging. I've read a lot about the natural disaster in the last week and thought I'd share a few of the more interesting things I found.

1. The most earthquake prone state in the US is Alaska. Alaskans can expect to experience a magnitude 7.0 earthquake almost every year. 

2. There's a word for what swimming pools do during and after a quake. A seiche is the sloshing of water (think wave pool) in a swimming pool or other body of water caused by an earthquake. 

3. The Transamerica Pyramid's shape was designed to withstand large earthquakes. 

4. Extremely powerful earthquakes can shorten the length of days on Earth. The 2011 8.9 magnitude earthquake in Japan accelerated Earth's spin, causing the 24-hour day to be 1.8 microseconds shorter. Sure, that isn't much time, but that's crazy. 

5. SF and LA are moving towards each other due to the movement of the San Andreas fault line at a rate of about two inches per year. The two cities will be next to each other in 15 million years. 

6. The longest recorded earthquake lasted for a whole ten minutes in the Indian Ocean. 

7. Roughly one quarter of the San Francisco Bay Area has about a 40 - 50% chance of future liquefaction due to an earthquake. 

8. The scale used to measure the intensity of earthquakes today isn't the Richter Scale. The moment magnitude scale replaced Charles Richter's system in the 1970s as the method of measuring the size of earthquakes by the amount energy released.

9. Pagodas resist earthquake damage because of their construction. They are common in Japan which experiences an especially high number of powerful quakes. 

Image via Thinkstock

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