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Geography   >   Earthquakes

Key Principles of Earthquakes

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In this course, Dr Servel Miller (University of Chester) explores earthquakes, their causes and impacts, and how disasters associated with seismic activity are managed. In the first module, we look at the key physical principles behind earthquakes, and in the second we examine their causes, particularly focusing on how seismic activity is generated at different types of plate boundary. The third module summarises secondary hazards produced by earthquakes - tsunamis, landslides, fissures, and liquefaction. In the fourth and fifth modules, we consider how physical and social factors combined to make the 2010 Haiti earthquake amongst the deadliest in human history, thinking especially about why the Haitian population were so vulnerable to disaster. In the final module, we turn to the management of earthquake hazards, emphasising the disaster management cycle.

Key Principles of Earthquakes

In this module, we think about the physical principles behind earthquakes, focusing on: (i) the different types of natural hazard – geomorphological, meteorological, hydrological, and geophysical – and where earthquakes fit into this; (ii) how earthquakes happen – the generation of seismic waves from energy release in the crust; (iii) the two main types of seismic waves – surface and body – and the characteristics of primary and secondary body waves; (iv) factors influencing earthquakes’ severity, particularly focal depth; (v) how earthquake magnitude is calculated, focusing on the Richter scale.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Miller, S. (2023, March 06). Earthquakes - Key Principles of Earthquakes [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Miller, S. "Earthquakes – Key Principles of Earthquakes." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 06 Mar 2023,

Image Credits


lecturer placeholder image

Dr Servel Miller

Chester University