How useful is an earthquake

Earthquake for students

Benefits of earthquakes

It may sound like a contradiction in terms, but earthquakes can also be useful. Okay, the earthquakes themselves are of little use, but they represent the dynamics of the earth. Without continental drift, there might be no humans, as one theory suggests that monkeys evolved into humans because of changes in environmental conditions due to continental drift. The monkeys were living in trees in East Africa when the Rift Valley opened. The Rift Valley is a large valley and runs through the east of the continent for many thousands of kilometers. The bottom of the valley is flat and the climate has changed. Instead of the jungle, tall grass suddenly grew and the monkeys had to adapt. Climbing was not an advantage here, but being able to walk upright was. Due to the height gained, it was possible for primitive people to look over the tall grass. Prey and enemies could be spotted better.

For the scientists, earthquakes represent an indirect window into the interior of the earth. By studying earthquake waves, the researchers discovered various boundary layers in the interior of the earth at which the speed of the earthquake waves changes. These boundary layers seem to confirm the model of the shell-like structure of the earth. This technique has now been refined so that the subsurface in earthquake areas can be systematically mapped. Magma chambers can be tracked down, or submerged crustal plates in the earth's mantle can be tracked down. In addition, volcanic earthquakes provide clues as to whether a volcano is preparing to erupt.

Artificially created earthquakes help geologists to find underground deposits of coal, gas and oil. To do this, small explosions are triggered, or large vibrating plates are used to create earthquake waves. This procedure is called vibroseis. Similar to natural earthquakes, the artificially generated earthquake waves experience a change in speed when they pass rocks of different densities. In this way, the geologists gain a picture of the subsurface and can track down coal, gas and oil.