Millersville University geologist discusses recent earthquake activity

Millersville University geologist discusses recent earthquake activity

MILLERSVILLE, Pa -- Geologist at Millersville University say tectonic plates are constantly moving and earthquakes are likely at anytime in active zones.

"What we are seeing is just normal earthquake activity," said Dr. Sam Earman, Associate Professor of Geology.

Normal earthquake activity is derived from a sum of events over a stretch decades.

"On average we might be having 12 to 15 earthquakes of this size a year this natural variation and natural systems we are going to expect one year we will have less, one year some more," said Earman.

This year major earthquakes rattled Mexico City, Parts of Japan -- this week seven plus magnitude quakes in Costa Rica and Iraq.

"Having an earthquake in Iraq versus Costa Rica, it's nothing on that sort of scale where one earthquake can trigger another," said Earman.

The earth composed of a number of tectonic plates.

"These individual pieces of the earth called plates are constantly moving around," said Earman.

Causing an earthquake at any time.

"We end up causing a whole bunch of stress and build up that these plates want to be moving but they are essentially locked in place because they are running against a jagged edge of another plate," said Earman.


The main concern for scientists is predictability or lack there of.

"There could be a major earthquake that could hit San Francisco tomorrow and we would have no idea," said Earman.

Little way of knowing one is coming. Geologist focus on the risk factor.

"We understand the mechanisms generate earthquakes, we understand the areas that are at elevated risk," said Earman.

The majority of the northeast is tectonically quiet. Although there is one area in Central Pa that is somewhat active.

"The earthquake risk in Lancaster, even though we are seismically active than other areas in Pennsylvania, is pretty low," said Earman.

Earman mentions that if there is an earthquake in Central Pa it would be minimal with minor shakes and little damage.

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