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Why Some Quakes Kill More Than Others

Earthquakes, like the recent ones in California and Iran, affect everyone on Earth. Geologist Ross Stein says, "You may not be able to feel them, but the entire planet is rung like a bell?Mountains have probably been pushed up about a foot or so by [the California] earthquake." Eventually quakes in California will carve Mexico's Baja peninsula off from the rest of Mexico.

Peter Henderson quotes Ross as saying, "For an earthquake this size, every single sand grain on the planet dances to the music of those seismic waves." There's a 5 to 10% chance that the recent quake will lead to "The Big One" that Californians dread.

Seismologist Susan Hough says, "The crust is getting mangled over a zone. As the plates move they are sort of grinding California into ribbons."

Iran is like California, in that there are minor tremors there almost daily. The latest earthquake in Iran measured 6.7, so why were so many more people killed there than in California's 6.5-magnitude quake? One reason is that the California quake hit in a small town, while the epicenter of the Iran quake was centered on a highly populated city. The only building destroyed in California was an historic one not built to earthquake codes, while in Iran, there are many more old buildings, and even new construction is not built to withstand earthquakes.

Iran researcher Bahram Akasheh says, "Most people think that what God wills will happen. This is absolutely wrong. This thinking is poisonous."

Earthquakes have brought down major civilizations in the past, and scientists have discovered new ways to search for their remains.

To learn more, click here and here.

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