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In 2010, a devastating earthquake in Haiti left over 100,000 people dead and thousandsmore injured. Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses were destroyedin a matter of minutes. Several factors contributed to the loss of life and property inHaiti, including socioeconomics and the magnitude of the quake.05But what even causes an earthquake and what makes it so severe? Think about sittingstill at your desk. Even if you aren't actively moving, your body is still technicallyin motion. This is due to plate tectonics and the constant shift of those plates on thesurface of the earth. When tension builds up between these plates, they sometimesfracture and fault. This fracturing and faulting is what causes an earthquake.10Specifically, the rocks have a tremendous amount of potential energy built upbetween them as they press on each other. When these rocks break or "fault," it causesa seismic wave that makes the "ground shake" characteristic of an earthquake. Peoplecan sometimes feel earthquakes, but other times they're so small that only specializedmachines detect them. These machines are called "seismographs."15Earthquakes are measured on the Richter scale, which is named for its inventor,Charles Francis Richter. The Richter scale goes from 0 to 10 plus, with lower numbersrepresenting smaller quakes, and higher numbers representing larger quakes. Peoplerarely feel an earthquake with a magnitude of 2 or lower. These are the types that needto be picked up by a seismograph or they will go largely unnoticed.20An earthquake with a magnitude of 3.0–3.9 is called a "minor earthquake." Thesecan usually be felt by most people, but very rarely cause any damage. Often times,people end up attributing these small quakes to other causes like large trucks passingor large public transit vehicles. Earthquakes on the higher end of this range may causeslight shaking of household objects.25Once an earthquake reaches the range of 4.0–4.9, it is almost always felt by the majorityof people. These "light earthquakes" will cause marginally more severe shaking,and may knock objects off shelves. These quakes are still highly unlikely to cause anydamage, other than to knocked over tchotchkes.An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.0 or higher will definitely be felt by people,30and at this level, there will start to be damage to buildings. "Moderate earthquakes,"those with a magnitude of 5.0–5.9, rarely cause damage to well-constructed buildings,but sometimes older ones will experience cracked foundations, electrical trouble, andsinking.In a "strong earthquake," a quake with a magnitude of 6.0–6.9, damage will be seen35in most buildings unless they are built to be "earthquake resistant." The damage seenin these buildings will be similar to those done by moderate quakes except it will bemore severe and happen to more buildings.Typically, there will not be complete collapse of buildings until the level of a "majorearthquake." These earthquakes with a magnitude of 7.0–7.9 can be felt many miles40from the epicenter of the earthquake and can cause thousands of dollars' worth ofdamage."Great earthquakes" are those with a Richter level of 8.0 or higher. Major damagewill occur even to earthquake resistant buildings. At 9.0 or higher, there will be permanentchanges to the ground geography. There will also be near to total destruction of45most buildings in the area.The earthquake in Haiti had a magnitude of 7.0. However, the damage was moresevere than one would expect due to the types of buildings common in Haiti. To makebuildings "earthquake resistant," as mentioned above, is much more expensive thanbuilding typical structures. This is an unimaginable luxury to many Haitians who live50on less than $2 a day. Additionally, the lack of infrastructure led many buildings to bein violation of "codes" meant to keep people safe in times of disaster.
Dates and Locations of Major Earthquakes
1. What is the point of the passage?
2. Assume that a moderate earthquake damaged 30% of the buildings built before 1960 in Town A. If the earthquake had been a strong earthquake instead, the passage most strongly suggests that what would be the resulting damage?
3. According to the passage, what can be done to minimize earthquake damage to buildings?
4. Which option gives the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
5. As used in line 24, "slight" most nearly means
6. According to the passage, why did the 2010 earthquake in Haiti result in more damage than would typically be expected for earthquakes of similar magnitude?
7. Which option gives the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
8. As used in line 42, "great" most nearly means
9. According to the chart, the greatest magnitude earthquake occurred in which country?
10. Using the information in the passage and chart, which countries have experienced permanent geographical changes due to earthquakes?
11. The Richter scale is a base-10 logarithmic scale in which a 3.0 magnitude earthquake has a shaking amplitude 10 times greater than a 2.0 magnitude earthquake, and a 5.0 magnitude earthquake would have a shaking amplitude 1,000 times greater than a 2.0 magnitude earthquake. Given this information and the information in the chart, how much greater in shaking amplitude was the 2011 Japanese earthquake than the 2010 Haitian earthquake?
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