It turns out earthquakes are not disasters, at least not asfar as the Earth is concerned. They recycle the Earth’scrust, which in turn produces a habitable planet, especiallyfor humans. Did you know that Earth is the only planet weknow about that has earthquakes?

William J. Broad writes in the January 11 New York Timesthat earthquakes are what created the oceans, the mountainsand even the atmosphere we breathe. Earthquakes also enrichthe soil by spreading ocean sediments over it, maintain thechemical balance of the ocean, where life began, andconcentrate gold and other precious metals so we humans candig them out of mines! Geologist Dr. Donald J. DePaolo saysthat no other planet has earthquakes, and now scientiststhink they may be why there is life on Earth at all. Itcould be the reason why only Earth, of all the planets we?vesurveyed, has complex life forms.

Plants breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out the oxygenwe need. Earthquakes affect the atmosphere this way: CO2from the atmosphere dissolves in rainwater to form carbonicacid, which forms sediments with rocks when the rain fallsto Earth. During an earthquake, which is a shifting oftectonic plates, these sediments are driven deep into theEarth. The intense pressure of the shifting plates causesthe sediments to release CO2. While too much CO2 can lead toglobal warming, a certain amount is needed to keep theplanet warm enough to support life.

Earthquakes are related to volcanoes this way: part of adescending tectonic plate melts and then rises, forming avolcano.

While the benefits that come from earthquakes take a verylong time to become evident, the catastrophes caused by themhit us quickly, as we?ve seen from the recent quakes andresulting tsunamis in Indonesia.

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