Predicting and preparing for earthquakes

Earthquakes are not as easy to predict as volcanic eruptions. However, there are still some ways of monitoring the chances of an earthquake:

  • Laser beams can be used to detect plate movement.
  • A seismometer is used to pick up the vibrations in the Earth's crust. An increase in vibrations may indicate a possible earthquake.
  • Radon gas escapes from cracks in the Earth's crust. Levels of radon gas can be monitored - a sudden increase may suggest an earthquake.

Many of the prediction techniques used to monitor earthquakes are not 100 per cent reliable. Planning and preparing for an earthquake is therefore very important.

  • People living in earthquake zones need to know what they should do in the event of a quake. Training people may involve holding earthquake drills and educating people via TV or radio.
  • People may put together emergency kits and store them in their homes. An emergency kit may include first-aid items, blankets and tinned food.
  • Earthquake-proof buildings have been constructed in many major cities, eg the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco. Buildings such as this are designed to absorb the energy of an earthquake and to withstand the movement of the Earth.
  • Roads and bridges can also be designed to withstand the power of earthquakes.
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