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.
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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