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Mains Test Series

Structure of Earth and Plate Tectonics

Q. Examine the causes and consequences of seismic activity on Earth. (250 words)


The movement of ground is known as seismic activity. Higherintensity seismic activity can be termed an earthquake, a sudden release of energy due to movement in tectonic plates. It’s the most unpredictable and highly destructive of all the natural disasters.

There are 5 Types of earthquakes on the basis of Causes:

  1. Tectonic earthquakes: Due to the sliding of rocks along fault planes. (Most common). For example, the Indian plate moves with a speed of 1cm/year into the Eurasian place. The accumulation of energy at different points and its sudden release causes energy in the Himalayan region.
  2. Volcanic earthquakes: confined to areas of active volcanoes. The release of volcanic material often leads to the release of massive amounts of energy.
  3. Collapse earthquakes can occur in intense mining areas, where Sometimes roofs of underground mines collapse. Glacial Lake Outbursts can also cause collapse earthquakes.
  4. Explosion earthquakes: Due to nuclear or Chemical devices.
  5. Hydroseismicity / Reservoir induced earthquakes: Areas of large reservoirs. It may also cause Earthquake Swarms, which are a sequence of seismic events that occur in a local area within a relatively short period. It may continue for days, months, or years.

Consequences of these Seismic activities:

  • Socio-Environmental Consequences of Earthquakes:

o Earthquakes are often associated with fear and horror due to their scale, magnitude and suddenness. o It becomes a calamity when it strikes areas of high density of population.

  • Chain Effects of Earthquakes:

o On Ground: They are responsible for landslides, mudslides and avalanches.

o On Water: Often, landslides cause obstructions in the rivers, resulting in the formation of reservoirs that can burst, causing sudden floods or rivers can change their course and cause other calamities in the affected areas.

o In Seas: It can result in the formation of Tsunamis.

  • Environmental consequences – o Sometimes, Surface seismic waves produce fissures on the upper layers of the crust through which water and other volatile materials gush out, inundating the neighbouring areas. 

Conclusion: Natural Seismic activity cannot be predicted, and therefore, Hazard Mitigation and preparedness are the best options available to us.

Way forward:

  1. Establishing earthquake monitoring centres, for example, using GPS to monitor the movement of plates. ii. Preparing a vulnerability map and dissemination of vulnerability risk information among the people; 
    • Modifying the building designs in the vulnerable areas.
    • Educating people about the ways and means of minimising the adverse impacts of disasters.

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