The earthquakes that struck Haiti and Japan caused massive devastation. There were over 21,000 earthquakes in 2010 alone. We decided to take a look behind the scenes of the Earth's moving and shaking to learn more about the energy of these quakes.
According to the USGS, the total energy from an earthquake includes energy required to create new cracks in rock, energy dissipated as heat through friction, and energy elastically radiated through the earth. Of these, the only quantity that can be measured is that which is radiated through the earth. It is the radiated energy that shakes buildings and is recorded by seismographs on the Richter scale.
Even though it usually destroys homes and other structures that are built to stand on solid ground, the sheer amount of kinetic energy produced by an earthquake makes scientists very excited.
And, as this article points out, turning kinetic energy into electrical energy is something proven theoretically by Einstein and done practically for many decades, in such examples as electrical dams or wind turbines. What if we could harness the large amounts of "clean" energy produced by an earthquake, and by doing so, prevent the quakes from reaching monstrous magnitudes?!
This infographic will give you a better understanding of how earthquakes shape up against other destructive forces like TNT and nuclear bombs.