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             Perhaps Mother Nature offers no greater force than that of the earthquake (also referred to as a temblor). Formally defined an earthquake is "a sudden movement of the earth's crust caused by the release of stress accumulated along geologic faults or by volcanic activity." (World Book). Across the span of time, earthquakes have been recorded for their incredible destructive forces, and their ability to awe mankind with their unparalleled force. Earthquakes can often strike without any warning, leveling large cities and killing scores of innocent people. Not only can earthquakes bring harm to society through these methods of destruction, but they can also cause millions of dollars worth of damage to the areas they destroy causing economic chaos. .
             An earthquake is a natural phenomenon, occurring throughout the history of the world. Descriptions as old as recorded history show the significant effects earthquakes have had on people's lives. Long before there were scientific theories for the cause of earthquakes, people around the world created folklore to explain them. Until recent times, science has not had a complete understanding of how earthquakes are caused, and what can be done to predict when they will strike. I will discuss how earthquakes are formed and occur, and how scientists can more accurately predict the arrival of earthquakes.
             Before contemplating how earthquakes might possibly be prevented, it is essential that the process and formation of and earthquake be understood. The earth's crust (the outer layer of the earth) is made up of seven major plates and approximately thirteen smaller ones. The name plate is used to describe these portions of the earth's .
             crust because they are literally "plates" or sections, composed of dirt and rock. These plates float on molten lava, called magma. Since the plates are floating on magma, they can slowly move. The place where friction occurs between plates is called a fault.

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