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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

"There shall be earthquakes in diverse places"

Today, I want to tell you why earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur and why they are necessary for the survival of our planet.

You have probably learned in school about the different layers within the earth; the Inner Core, Outer core, Mantle and finally the Crust (The ground you are standing on).

Without going into much detail about the science behind it, I want to explain to you why the earth is made this way. It is designed in such a way for it to self-correct in order to keep it in balance as it spins at approximately 1036 miles(1667 Kilometers) per hour through space while it maintains its orbit around the sun.

The ground that you are standing on (The crust) is actually the thinnest layer of the earth and it actually floats on top of the mantle. You may not notice it, but it does move in relation to the mantle that it floats on.  In fact, the layer below the crust tends to move in relation to the outer core of the earth.

We tend to notice the motion more when two of the  #TecTonic plates of the earth's crust/mantle bind against each other slowly building enough pressure to finally slip or break free of each other on a #FaultLine(the edge of the plate) causing a sudden release of energy that we know as an #EarthQuake.

This force is completely unpredictable and unpreventable. It is the way the earth adjusts to maintain its balance.

Using the following example, I will show you how it would be impossible for the earth to maintain its balance without its ability to release this pressure through earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

As a child in the 1970s and 80s, I remember having a spinning top, similar to the one you see in this picture.  Many of you probably remember this type of toy as a child.

As you push the plunger down it begins to spin on a very small point on the bottom. It will spin until it gradually slows down and finally tip over. The faster it spins the longer it will spin on its axis similar to how the earth spins on its axis. It does this because it is completely in balance.

For the purpose of this article though I want you to imagine, or even try it at home if you have one of these tops.

I want you to imagine placing a paperclip on one side of the top and affix it with scotch tape to the top. Try spinning it now. What happens?

It starts an uncontrollable wobble that results in it spinning out of control and crashing onto its side. In fact if you were to spin it fast enough it would probably completely fall apart before it had a chance to fall to the ground.

Next imagine drilling a hole in one side of the top and adding 2 paperclips to the other side. You can see the same result every time. In fact the more weight you take from one side of the top and move to the other, the faster the top reaches its abrupt end.

Now I want you to imagine a layer between the surface of the top that allows it to float on it without falling off of it. Then divide the surface (crust) into sections that are held tightly in place by a gravitational force that binds it to the layer below it (mantle) similar to a loosely fitting puzzle .

Spin it again. As the top starts to spin the surface will adjust by sliding the plates until balance is found again. Sometimes one plate will rise and another will fall in order for the adjustment to take place. Other times the edges of these plates may bind against each other and build pressure resulting in a release of energy similar to that of a violent earthquake.

Finally I want you to imagine, digging up tons of iron on one side of the planet, shipping it to the other side and placing it on the ground in the form of a skyscraper. Think of the amount of weight we have moved from one location of the globe to the other in order to construct New York City or Los Angeles, California.

If the earth was solid, it would have likely been thrown off balance and possibly would have fallen completely apart years ago.  The best case scenario would be that it would have spun completely out of orbit. Both scenarios would have resulted in the end of mankind as well as any other life form that depends on the heat and light of the sun. Though violent, an earthquake is far less devastating than the alternative if the earth was not designed this way.

Because the ground you walk on is actually broken up into various plates bound to the mantle by gravity and the pressure above it. The earth is able to make these minor adjustments automatically so that it can continue to rotate on its axis as it continue its annual journey around the sun. These self-adjustments are done through earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Earthquakes can be quite devastating, resulting in not only destruction of property but also Tsunamis can occur that can cause devastating floods throughout the world.
Volcanic eruptions are another form of a pressure release that is necessary. While the earth’s crust and mantle adjust from time to time resulting in earthquakes, the pressure changes on the layer beneath.

This layer is called the outer core. The outer core consists of a significant amount of molten rock called magma. It has been melted by the extremely high temperature of the Earth’s core.

Though no one really know what the actual core looks like, most scientists will tell you that it is solid and extremely hot. It is believed to be almost as hot as the sun but it remains solid and will not melt. It is consists primarily of iron and nickel. It is so hot (nearly 5000 degrees centigrade) that it would have melted long ago if there was not so much pressure above it. Thus the core is solid and very hot. Hot enough to melt a significant portion of the outer core.

As the crust and mantle of the earth adjusts above it, pressure builds in various locations of the outer core resulting in a need to release that pressure to maintain balance. As this occurs, pressure builds within the outer core and it will begin to apply pressure to the mantel and crust above. Sometimes the crust will even rise to form a mountain.

Once the pressure below the crust exceeds the pressure of the crust and the atmosphere above, this molten rock breaks through the crust resulting in the molten rock spewing from it as it. This is known as a volcanic eruption. This molten rock becomes known as lava when it is released through a vent (volcano).

While earthquakes and volcanoes are both devastating, they are necessary for this planet that we live on to maintain its orbit around the sun and sustain life as we know it. The only way to prevent them is for everyone and everything to stay in place. We all know that that is impossible, so we need to expect them and prepare for them. They will occur in the future and continue to occur throughout the lifespan of our species and the planet we live on.

You can read more about the layers of the earth at

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