Essay by leewhitbreadA-, February 2004

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Earthquakes are happening almost everyday all over the world. Most of the time earthquakes are not strong enough to be felt by people, but the shaking caused by an earthquake is recorded by a seismogram. These are located all over the world at different points. Only occasionally will a larger magnitude earthquake strike and cause damage to the region. Around the world there are many faults, depending where these faults are plays a major factor in determining where an earthquake will happen. It is these faults that are the reason for earthquakes. The type of fault will also determine how often an earthquake will happen.

A mid-ocean ridge occurs under the sea at a divergent boundary. This is where two plates are been pulled apart because of tension. This then allows new oceanic crust to be made in the divergent boundary, as magma rises and eventually sets on the sea floor.

If the plates on either side of the divergent boundary continue to spread then the ocean slowly becomes larger in width, a process called seafloor spreading. Mid-ocean ridges are characterised by a crack like valley at the divergent boundary. This crack like valley is caused by the tension pulling the plates apart, causing normal faulting to occur a number of times in the divergent boundary.

It is these normal faults that are the cause and therefore the origin of earthquakes at divergent boundaries. When the tension pulling apart the two plates becomes too much then the oceanic crust will fracture. This fracturing is caused by many normal faults happening as shown in the diagram. The normal faults happen because the crust is been extended. When the tension becomes too much the faults slip vertically. They move a large distance in a relatively short space of time, this is the...