It’s been a pretty scary couple of days here in Wellington (and all over New Zealand) after the big 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit on Monday morning! Maybe it even woke you up? I thought this would be a good time to refresh our knowledge on earthquakes and what we need to do in an emergency.
So, what IS an earthquake?
The surface of the earth is covered in large rocks (or plates), which we call the earth’s crust. Earthquakes happen when these rocks move, causing a great release of energy that travels through the earth.
The edges where different plates in the earth’s crust meet are called fault lines, and these are often where earthquakes are most likely to centre, although people will feel them from a long way away.
After a major earthquake, it is also normal to feel lots of smaller aftershocks for days or even weeks afterwards. An instrument called a seismograph records and measures the size of an earthquake. Geonet keeps a record of all the earthquakes that have occurred across the country, so check out their website to see just how many aftershocks we’ve had in the past couple of days!
Because we never know when an earthquake might happen, it is really important that we are prepared and know what to do when an earthquake hits.
The first thing you need to remember if you feel an earthquake is to drop. If you are close to a sturdy table or desk, you can crouch underneath, otherwise cover your head with your arms to protect yourself from things that could fall on you. Lastly, hold your position until you feel the shaking stop, or until an adult tells you it is safe.
Drop, cover, hold – pretty easy right? You might like to have a quick practice now.
If you are interested to learn more about earthquakes, or how and why they happen, we’ve got lots of great books available through the catalogue. You might also like to read this information from Civil Defence about how to be prepared for an emergency, or check out the science kids website for more earthquake facts.
Stay safe out there!