The people of Nepal are in need of our love and support as reports now state that more than 4,600 are dead and 9,000 injured after the recent series of earthquakes. Nepal is located in the Himalayas surrounded by China and India in South Asia. It ranks among the world’s lowest economically.

Thousands of earthquakes occur every day around the world resulting in 500,000 each year. They can occur anywhere but the majority happens along the rim of the Pacific Ocean called the Ring of Fire because of volcanic activity there as well. Minor earthquakes constantly occur in locations including California, Alaska, El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala, Chile, Peru, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, Azores in Portugal, Turkey, New Zealand, Greece, Italy, India, and Japan. More than 100,000 people die in earthquakes annually.

Earthquakes, also called quakes, temblors, and tremors, are the result of a release of energy in the Earth’s crust that creates seismic waves. Giant rock slabs that make up the Earth’s upper layer collide or slide against each other. When stress is released quickly, it sends massive vibrations called seismic waves hundreds of miles through the rock and up to the surface. Other quakes occur far from fault zones when plates stretch or squeeze. Further destruction results from subsequent smaller temblors, mud slides, fires, floods, and tsunamis.

Magnitude rating is based on the strength and duration of their seismic waves. A rating of 3-5 is considered minor, 5-7 is moderate to strong, 7-8 is major, and 8 or more is great. The April 25 quake in Nepal was rated 7.8.

Construction built to sway rather than break under stress is vital as much of the loss of life during earthquakes is due to collapsing buildings. Emergency planning and education is also important, particularly in areas of frequent occurrences.

©2015, Mary K. Doyle

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