Earthquakes vs. Aftershocks: Rumblings Under Foot

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Difference between Earthquakes and Aftershocks

Nature has given mankind and other creatures on this Earth the gift of life. Nature can bring down water from the heavens and quench the thirst of the thirsty soil. That soil in turn becomes fertile and starts to produce fruits and vegetables, which feed man and animal alike. Thus, without nature's help the cycle of life wouldn't continue. One thing depends on the other to survive on Earth, but in the end we are at nature's mercy, but nature is not always dependable. It can sometimes strike mankind with it's weather and other natural variations in form of natural disasters like earthquakes and aftershocks.

Level of Severity

Earthquakes are capable of destroying buildings, homes or any kind of property in a matter of seconds. Earthquakes are one of nature's most unpredictable naturally occurring disasters and are capable of bringing down large high rise building in a matter of seconds, shortening the life span of many. On the other hand, an after aftershock is normally not as severe and tends to do little or no damage. However, an aftershock can sometimes be just as severe as the original earthquake and cause considerable havoc. According to the USGS, in 2009 there was many strong earthquakes recorded all over the globe. (Breaking down into [1 >+8.0], [37 >+7.0], [16 >+6.0]) and through July 2010 there have been [1 >+8.0], [19 >+7.0], [10 >+6.0].)


Aftershocks tend to start near where the main shock started aftershocks are caused by the stress of the main shock's fault, which then results in an aftershock. Sometimes, if the main shock is powerful enough, the stress of the main shock can produce aftershock that can cover greater distances. However, as a rule of thumb, aftershocks are usually never at a greater distance from the main shock's fault. Therefore, it can be said that an aftershock is always the result of the main shock. If you experience an earthquake, then after the earthquake subsides, you will more than likely experience an aftershock.


Larger earthquakes have larger aftershocks. The larger the earthquake, the larger the aftershock will be. Therefore, the variations in magnitudes can be quite significant. If an earthquake's magnitude ranges from 5.5 to 6.7, then on average an aftershock's magnitude will be around 0.1 to 3.0 or perhaps even more. A surprising fact is that large aftershocks can occur even months or years after the main one. Therefore, it can be said that aftershocks tend to be more predicable than the main shock, since they are generally expected after an earthquake. Sometimes, an aftershock occurs that is more powerful that the main shock, in which case the aftershock is usually classified as the main shock.


  • Nature can bring with it the gift of life, or a death sentence in a form of natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes
  • A earthquake tends to be more powerful than an aftershock, which is capable of destroying homes, high rise buildings, and anything that comes its way. However, usually aftershocks are not as powerful as an earthquake
  • Aftershocks tend to occur near, the main shock site, and tend to be more predicable, since they usually occur after the main shock, thus the term “after shock”
  • If the magnitude of a earthquake (main shock) tends to be around 5.5 to 6.7 the an aftershock can expect to have a magnitude of 0.1 to 3.0


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