Earthquake Experience

Earth is a dynamic planet. The term dynamic means powerful and energetic. Physical processes have molded our planet for eons. On April 5, 2024 a 4.8 magnitude earthquake occurred in New Jersey a few miles from our former residence. This was the strongest earthquake to occur in New Jersey since 1783. This geographic area is not prone to earthquakes as are some other locations around the planet. This earthquake generated considerable anxiety for local residents. Authorities stated that no significant damage had resulted, but aftershocks, minor “readjustments” in the rock layers, did occur.

The recent northern New Jersey earthquake was an unusual phenomenon in that geographic region. By coincidence, the earth trembled just three days before the April 8 total eclipse of the sun provided totality in New York State barely 200 miles north of the earthquake locale. Earthquakes cannot be predicted in advance, but solar eclipse events are predictable with incredible accuracy many years in advance. Some residents assigned mystical significance to the conflation of two highly unusual natural events within three days of each other. 

Seismologists, scientists who specialize in the study of earthquakes, have explained detailed causes and effects of earthquakes. These earth scientists have identified forces present in Earth’s lithosphere—the outer layers of crust and upper mantle of our planet. When an earthquake occurs, reporters on television networks frequently refer to faults—breaks or cracks in the rock layers at the Earth’s surface. In the paragraphs below we offer a short primer on several types of faults and how rock breakage along faults results in earthquakes.

Earthquakes are ultimately related to heat from the interior of Planet Earth. Most planetary heat comes from the decay of radioactive elements. Unequal heating in the crust and mantle causes cyclical convection currents even in mostly solid rock layers. Over the long term, less dense material rises above more dense material. Convection currents form and cause the earth’s surface crust to break into sections called plates. 

Seismologists have enriched our knowledge of earthquakes, especially in the last century. Until the 1960s, the Continental Drift theory described the startling proposal that Earth’s continents appear to be slowly moving with respect to each other. German scientist Alfred Wegener popularized the theory. He presented evidence that continents slowly moved, but could not explain why the movements occurred.

A new theory about moving continents developed in the 1960s called Plate Tectonics theory. Great sections of Earth’s crust broke into slabs, or plates, and joined together with other plates like pieces of a giant jig-saw puzzle. Faults occurred where giant pieces of Earth’s crust met each other.

Forces in the Earth’s crust result in several types of faults. The NJ earthquake was related to the Ramapo fault, an ancient fault stretching across northern New Jersey. It is no longer an active fault zone but strong earthquakes sometimes occur in ancient fault regions. Three types of faults have been identified: (1) divergent, where plates are moving apart (2) transform, where plates are horizontally sliding past one another, and (3) convergent, where plates are moving toward each other. Faults at the boundaries of plates are more common.The edges of plates are rough. They get stuck while the rest of the plate keeps moving. Finally, when the plate has moved far enough, the edges break apart and an earthquake results. A stretched rubber band can break—an illustration of the action of divergent forces. Matter can become deformed and broken by either twisting or convergent forces. 

Earthquakes are capable of producing damage and destruction. These quakes are ultimately caused by cyclical convection currents in the lithosphere of Planet Earth. Convection currents work for the greater benefit of humanity. A website from the American Museum of Natural History states: “The processes that shape the Earth and its environment constantly cycle elements through the planet. This cycling sustains life and leads to the formation of the mineral and energy resources that are the foundation of modern technological society.”

Many natural phenomena cause destruction and damage to our planetary environment. Damage caused by earthquakes is only one example. When we research this issue, we discover that many underlying physical laws and processes governing our world ultimately work to our benefit rather than to our detriment. God has provided mandates for humanity to exercise dominion over the natural world. For example, government authorities obey these mandates when they legislate building codes to prevent damage during natural events such as earthquakes.

The divine Creator is the author of all scientific laws in our physical world. God has intricately fine-tuned our dynamic planet during the eons-long process of creation. The Plate Tectonics theory is virtually universally accepted to account for earthquakes and continental plates moving on our planetary surface. This describes a divine transformational miracle.

For supporting information on miracles…..

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