It’s not very often that earthquakes happen so naturally when one does there must be a blog written about it. First a little background as to what an earthquake actually is. Most people have a general idea that an earthquake is when the earth…..quakes. I know I’m hilarious just call me captain obvious.
The question then becomes: What causes the shaking? Earth is made of giant plates. These plates are just below the surface a part of the earth’s crust and are called tectonic plates. Think of them as massive puzzle peaces that kind of split the earth into different sections. These tectonic plates are constantly moving. The result of that constant moving would be fault lines. Now the fault lines do not happen where the plates intersect. The Plates are huge. For example: There is a plate called the Pacific Plate, it covers the entire Pacific Ocean. Next to that would be the North American Plate. An earthquake occurs when there is movement within the earths crust along one of these faults.
Without going into much detail the movement of tectonic plates is also how mountains are formed. Try this on your own by taking two sheets of paper and pushing them against each other. Eventually the paper begins to rise in the center where they meet. At its most basic that’s how mountains form. This process takes millions of years. Obviously the Rocky Mountains weren’t made in a 24 hour period.
The earthquake that happened this morning around 3:15 AM central time had its epicenter near Decatur Tennessee. The epicenter is where the earthquake originates. This is usually where the most violent shaking occurs. From there shaking can be felt hundreds of miles away. I’ve attempted to draw the above map indicating where shaking of some kind was felt. Regarding the Tennessee Valley, shaking was felt as far west as Florence according to one report. At it’s epicenter the earthquake had a magnitude 4.4 on the richter scale. Hurricanes are given their magnitude based on the data put out by the seismograph. The seismograph measures the force of the shaking and the duration.
Earthquakes are not the most predictable thing and there are never earthquake warnings issued because they are very sudden events.