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How do earthquakes start?
Question Date: 2012-03-14
Answer 1:

Rocks are strong, but they are only so strong. If you could squeeze a rock hard enough with your hand, eventually it would break. When rocks break they release energy as earthquake seismic waves. Rocks experience stress when they are pushed or pulled by tectonic forces. If the stress they experience is greater than the strength of the rock, the rock will break along faults. Energy is released when the faults rupture, and this energy is released as seismic waves that we feel in earthquake.

Answer 2:

The force that has built up as a result of plate tectonics becomes too much for whatever hold or catch is keeping the earth from moving, and, thus, it moves, in response to the force. Now, various things can make it easier for things to slide past each-other; water, for example, can make it more likely that a particular fault will give if it's wet.

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