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Earthquakes and plate tectonics.

January 1, 1982

Earthquakes occur at the following three kinds of plate boundary: ocean ridges where the plates are pulled apart, margins where the plates scrape past one another, and margins where one plate is thrust under the other. Thus, we can predict the general regions on the earth's surface where we can expect large earthquakes in the future. We know that each year about 140 earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater will occur within this area which is 10% of the earth's surface. But on a worldwide basis we cannot say with much accuracy when these events will occur. The reason is that the processes in plate tectonics have been going on for millions of years. Averaged over this interval, plate motions amount to several mm per year. But at any instant in geologic time, for example the year 1982, we do not know, exactly where we are in the worldwide cycle of strain build-up and strain release. Only by monitoring the stress and strain in small areas, for instance, the San Andreas fault, in great detail can we hope to predict when renewed activity in that part of the plate tectonics arena is likely to take place. -from Author

Publication Year 1982
Title Earthquakes and plate tectonics.
Authors H. Spall
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Impact of Science on Society
Index ID 70011433
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse