Earthquakes are powerful, dangerous, and terrifying natural disasters and they can also be the cause behind bigger and more dangerous disasters.
Earthquakes are caused by the movement of tectonic plates under the Earth’s surface. This movement may trigger a volcanic eruption. In 1975, a giant earthquake hit Hawaii which was followed hours later by an eruption of the Kilauea volcano.
Earthquakes can also cause landslides and avalanches which are when debris, soil, or snow slide down a mountain or hill. For instance, the Northridge quake of 1994 caused thousands of landslides in the mountains above the Los Angeles neighborhood.
Tsunamis are caused by earthquakes which push water up to form a wave. If that wave becomes large enough it’s classified as a tsunami. Sometimes a tsunami can affect coasts thousands of miles away from the earthquake ― as seen in 2011 when Japan suffered one of the biggest earthquakes worldwide. Afterward, a tsunami caused damage not just in Japan, but in places as far away as California too.
Earthquakes can also cause several kinds of flooding. First, flooding can occur in areas hit by a tsunami. Second, earthquakes and tsunamis can break dams and levees that hold in water, which can cause flooding to lower areas.
Another thing an earthquake can cause is liquefaction, which is when sand or soil mix with groundwater to create quicksand. Buildings constructed above the quicksand can fall and sink.
Earthquakes can be terrifying on their own and they can also cause other disasters. Some of these can be more dangerous than the original earthquake. So the earthquake itself isn’t always to blame.