You may not think of the state of Florida as being prone to earthquakes, but it is. In fact, Florida is one of the most seismically active areas in the entire country. The reason that people don’t think of Florida as an area that gets earthquakes is that they are so infrequent there. Even in geologically active areas like the Pacific Northwest, earthquakes are uncommon enough that they tend to catch people off guard when they do happen. Is there a difference between tremor and an earthquake? Technically yes, although both terms get used interchangeably by most people on a day-to-day basis. Earthquakes refer to any time that the ground shakes with enough force that it cannot be attributed to anything else. In other words, if you feel something shake the ground beneath your feet and you know for certain that it was not another person or animal moving near you, then it qualifies as an earthquake.
Does Florida Get Earthquakes?
No, Florida does not get earthquakes.
The reason is that it resides in the interior of the North American tectonic plate, and is not near any major plate boundaries. However, eastern Florida is in a region where there are many small earthquakes due to activity by small plates tectonic called ‘marbles’.
Why Is Florida So Seismically Active?
1. It is a peninsula.
Florida is a narrow strip of land that extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. The plate boundary between the North American and the Caribbean plates runs along Florida’s west coast. The northward movement of one tectonic plate is balanced by the southward movement of another tectonic plate, which causes Florida to be seismically active.
2. It has mountains on 3 sides of it.
The Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Straits of Florida act as barriers to earthquakes in Florida, but they are not enough to stop them entirely. The state has many large mountains that can cause earthquakes when they move or slip (i.e., rupture).
3. The Earth’s crust in eastern Florida is very thin and weak due to its proximity to the ocean floor (see map at right).
As mentioned above, there are no significant faults in eastern Florida, so it does not have many places where earthquakes can occur without any warning whatsoever (that’s good news for people who live there!). However, there are places where things are different than they are elsewhere in the state due to this underlying weakness in the Earth’s crust near sea level (the earth’s surface just above the water). This results in what’s called “seismic zones”. Seismic zones are areas with high seismic activity because faults line up with one another across a fault zone and slip along their length when an earthquake occurs. Seismic zones are a common feature along the US Atlantic coast, and there are several in Florida.
4. The Floridan Aquifer is a very large source of water for the area.
The Floridan Aquifer is a huge underground body of water that covers most of Florida’s central part and is the main source of drinking water for the state. However, it is also a big source of water that can cause earthquakes when it moves or slips (i.e., ruptures). And that’s exactly what happens in some places near its surface (i.e., at the land surface). This can cause earthquakes in areas where there are faults along which the aquifer lies (see map at right). There are several seismic zones near Florida’s largest aquifer, and they include some parts of Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and Palm Beach County as well as parts of several counties in central Florida including Alachua and Putnam Counties.
5. There are many active faults across eastern Florida (see map at right).
There are many active faults across eastern Florida because they represent ancient tectonic plate boundaries that have been reactivated by human activity such as mining and construction activities over the last few hundred years (that’s why you see so many roads built on top of old railroads or other old structures). Because these old fault lines were not moved during construction activities, they remain present across much of eastern Florida.
What Causes Earthquakes?
1. Earthquakes are caused by the movement of tectonic plates.
Earthquakes are caused by the movement of tectonic plates that make up the lithosphere, the rigid outer shell of the planet. The Earth is divided into several tectonic plates, which are made up of rock that is broken into pieces called “blocks” or “plates”. These blocks and plates move around on the surface of our planet as they are pushed up and down by plate tectonics (see map above). When two blocks or plates move against one another, they can cause earthquakes.
2. Earthquakes occur along fault lines where two tectonic plates come together.
Earthquakes occur along fault lines where two parts of a plate (called “blocks”) come together to form a single piece called a “fault”. Fault lines typically form when two different types of rocks meet; if one type is denser than the other, it will push on it and form the fault line. Often these faults line up with each other across a region and slip (move) when an earthquake occurs because there’s not enough space between them for them to move apart easily. This can cause earthquakes in certain areas where there are faults along which the aquifer lies (see map at right). There are several seismic zones near Florida’s largest aquifer, and they include some parts of Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and Palm Beach County as well as parts of several counties in central Florida including Alachua and Putnam Counties.
3. Earthquakes can be felt as far away as Los Angeles.
Earthquakes can be felt as far away as Los Angeles because the Earth is not a flat plane, but instead has a bulge in the middle called “the core”. The core is very hot, dense, and dense with very heavy materials such as iron and nickel. When an earthquake occurs, this heavy material moves around and pushes on other parts of the planet’s surface causing them to move up or down depending on their location relative to the core. When this happens, it causes earthquakes in other areas because they are pushed down beneath the surface of the Earth or raised up above it by about 15–20 feet depending on where they are located (see map above). The farther away from the core you are in relation to an earthquake’s epicenter, the more likely that you will feel an earthquake.
How Can You Protect Yourself From Earthquakes?
1. Seismographs are very useful in detecting earthquakes.
Seismographs are very useful in detecting earthquakes. They are small devices that record the movement of the ground on a map every few seconds. This allows scientists to predict where and when an earthquake will occur, but there is also a chance that you can feel it before it happens if you live near one of these areas.
2. A good way to protect yourself from earthquakes is to “drop, cover and hold on”.
A good way to protect yourself from earthquakes is to “Drop, Cover, and Hold On”. If an earthquake occurs in your area, drop down (if possible) and protect your head with your arms and hands. If you are below the ground level of an earthquake risk area, try to get under something sturdy like a table or desk (or even better under a heavy piece of furniture like a desk or table). Cover your head with your arms and hands as well as any other parts of your body that could be exposed. Hold on until the shaking stops and then slowly get up so as not to fall down or hurt yourself by falling over something or tripping over something dangerous like electrical wires or glass bottles (you should not walk around during this time).
3. If you are in a building that has no way of escaping from the earthquake, stay inside.
If you are in a building that has no way of escaping from the earthquake, stay inside. If you have to exit the structure during an earthquake, do so slowly and carefully to avoid falling down stairs or tripping over objects on the floor. Wait for the shaking to stop before going outside.
4. If you are in a car during an earthquake, stop it immediately and get out of it immediately.
If you are in a car during an earthquake, stop it immediately and get out of it immediately. Do not drive away if there is a possibility of being trapped by falling debris or getting stuck under debris like cars or trees that may fall on your vehicle later (do not go up on hills while driving). If possible, park under something sturdy like a bridge or overpass so that your vehicle will not be crushed by falling debris (or if possible park far away from bridges so that they will not fall). Also, if possible do not drive over bridges as this could cause them to collapse later on (if they were already damaged by earthquakes).
It can be a bit scary to live in a part of the country that is prone to earthquakes. At the same time, it’s not something that you need to live in fear of. With the right preparation, you can minimize the potential damage from an earthquake and be ready when it happens. You can do that by making sure that your home is structurally sound, storing water and food, and knowing what to do when an earthquake happens. That’s why it’s important to understand what causes earthquakes, how often they occur, and which parts of the state are most at risk. Once you know that information, you can take the proper precautions to protect yourself and your family should an earthquake occur in Florida.