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Are the waves that produce an earthquake in a resonant state? If not, what would it be the effect of the earthquake if the waves were in a resonant state?
Question Date: 2017-04-21
Answer 1:

I’ll start with the first part of your question by saying that waves do not produce earthquakes, rather earthquakes produce seismic waves, both shear (waves that travel up and down, much like if you wiggled a rope up and down) and compressional waves (waves that travel much like a slinky if you stretch it and let go).

Also, resonance itself is a phenomenon that occurs when an external force causes another system to oscillate with greater amplitudes. This occurs when the external force has a frequency that is the resonant frequency (the frequency at which the maximum amplitude oscillation occurs) of the system. My understanding is that seismic waves themselves cannot be in a resonant state, but they could cause another system to become in a resonant state.

Earthquakes produce waves that have a variety of frequencies, so it is possible that their waves can cause other systems to experience resonance. For example, buildings all have a natural resonance that they vibrate back and forth at and if an earthquake had the same resonance, it can cause much greater damage since the building would move back and forth at a much greater amplitude.

Thanks for the question!

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