How much energy is released during an earthquake?
The recent disastrous earthquakes in Nepal once again showcased the enormous latent energy mother nature possesses. Energy cannot be created, but is transferred from one medium to another. Earthquakes release stored elastic strain energy as seismic energy and heat energy.
Tectonic forces or stresses within the crust and upper mantle of the Earth, causes earthquakes. These stresses includes the slow movement of the upper mantle and crust (tectonic plates) and the movement of molten rock. These stresses builds up in rocks and rocks under stress eventually break. When this happens, the stored stress is released as energy in the form of earthquakes.
Energy released by an earthquake can be measured in Seismic Energy radiated in waves from the epicentre (measured on the Richter Scale) and Seismic Moment energy (measured on a Moment Magnitude Scale). Only up to 10% of the total energy released by an earthquake is released as seismic energy. The remainder is released as heat energy through friction.
In reference to the recent earthquake in Nepal, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale, we offer you some insights on the magnitude of the energy involved:
The earthquake was measured at 7.8 on the Richter scale.
Seismic energy in waves radiated from earthquake source: 3.162278e+16 Joules. This is equal to 8 784 105 556 kWh.
In everyday equal measures the released potential energy compares to:
- Powers the USA for almost 3 hours.
- Powers New York City for 35 days.
- Equals the Hoover Dam Electricity output for 25 months.
- Equal the energy of an average hurricane for 53 seconds.
- Power the average American household for 333 years.
- Equals the energy of 504 Hiroshima atomic bombs.
- Equals the energy of 6 324 555 average lightning flashes.
- Equals the energy in 7 558 025 tons of TNT explosives.
- Equals the energy in 906 857 383 litres of fuel.
Total “Seismic Moment Energy” (MO): 6.180164e+20 Joules. This is equal to 171 671 222 220 000 kWh.
In everyday equal measures the released energy compares to:
- Power the USA for almost 2 days and five hours.
- Power New York City for almost 21 months.
- Equals the Hoover Dam Electricity output for 490 months.
- Equal the energy of an average hurricane for 12 days.
- Power the average American household for 6 ½ million years.
- Equals the energy of 9.7 million Hiroshima atomic bombs.
- Equals the energy of 124 billion average lightning flashes.
- Equals the energy in 148 000 megatons of TNT explosives
- Equals the energy in 17723072 mega-litres of fuel.
This is what happens when planet Earth carry out energy management interventions.