Not all Earthquakes are Created Equal

Living in California and also in PNG I’ve felt quite a few earthquakes.  I’ve even posted about the earthquakes (mostly the PNG ones).  If you want to go back and take a trip down memory lane you can see my first PNG earthquake post here: Seismic Activity in PNG or read about a crazy day in the village that included an earthquake here: All Before 8am or even what could have been the end of the world earthquake but wasn’t here: The End of the World.

So needless to say that I’m not a stranger to earthquakes but I have wondered why the earthquakes that happen often in PNG, the ones that make the international news, don’t really cause much damage and are sometimes not even felt all over PNG.  This is especially interesting in light of the 7.8 earthquake that just happened in Nepal.  There was a 7.4 earthquake that happened in PNG yesterday and it didn’t cause any damage that was worth reporting and didn’t even trigger a tsunami.  So what’s going on here?

png_plates

I know that PNG is located on the ring of fire and that there are a few fault lines that run through it (the picture above is also on Jesse’s post which is explained below).  I also know that the tectonic plates in PNG move differently than the plates in California and I’m assuming here, Nepal as well.  And from personal experience, PNG quakes just don’t cause as much damage which is a good thing for PNG otherwise with the amount of earthquake activity, it would be practically unlivable.

Well there are indeed many factors at work and a friend in PNG just wrote a great post that is definitely worth reading if you’re interested in why the earthquakes in PNG are different from those in Nepal or California.  Jessie has been working in PNG for a few years now (her time overlapped with mine) and I’m even cooking my rice paper wrap recipe this week which was inspired by a recipe she shared with me.  Anyway, back to earthquakes, whether you are a geologist or not Jessie’s full post On Earthquakes and Tsunamis is an informative and interesting read.

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