Why do tectonic plates cause earthquakes?

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The surface of the Earth is not composed of a solid mass or material that is connected to the core.  Instead, the Earth’s surface is said to be composed of various large sheets that many people refer to as tectonic plates. With so many of these plates constantly moving over time, some force and energy will be created that could result into ground tremors or earthquakes. Tectonic plates beneath the Earth surface could be very thick and long that most of their movement cannot be detected by the people above the ground.  When these plates move and press against each other, the energy it produces will then cause earthquakes.

Many earthquakes that have occurred in different parts of the world are the result of tectonic plate movement.  Most of these movements also result from energy build-up between the various overlapping plates. When these plates collide for example, some amount of energy will be produced and this will cause further movement of the tectonic plates.  Under normal circumstances, the various tectonic plates beneath the earth constantly move over the course of time.  Most of these movements though are so slow that it took thousands of years for the Earth’s continents to drift apart from each other.  When these same tectonic movements become more forceful, more energy will be produced and this will cause the earthquakes.

Tectonic plate movement may come in different forms.  There are times that adjacent plates will move in parallel with each other.  Some tectonic movement may also be caused by two or more plates that move towards each other.  When this happens, the plates will be literally grinding against each other and create a huge amount of energy that will eventually lead to possible ground shaking.  The more energy is produced, the bigger the earthquake will be.  In some cases, when the tectonic plate movement happens beneath the ocean floor, tidal waves and tsunamis may also occur after the earthquake.

Author: erwin

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