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National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

 

Earthquakes

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Worker Education and Training Program (WETP) has been actively involved in earthquake response and cleanup, including the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the 2011 Japan earthquake.

The NIEHS Earthquake Response Training Tool: Protecting Yourself While Responding to Earthquakes is an awareness-level health and safety resource for "skilled support personnel" (SSP) who will participate in an earthquake response and cleanup. This tool will help workers understand at an awareness level: what an earthquake is, characteristics of an earthquake response, and how to identify and control hazards pertaining to the response and cleanup activities associated with an earthquake. Trainers may use this tool to aid in the development of an earthquake awareness level course or other awareness level materials (fact-sheets, table-top activities, etc.).

This webpage provides background information, documents and resources that address emergency preparedness during earthquakes.  Documents and links found on this page primarily address issues in government preparedness and public preparedness. 

Earthquake
An earthquake is a tremor of the earth's surface usually triggered by the release of underground stress along fault lines. This release causes movement in masses of rock and resulting shock waves. Earthquakes are measured by their intensity and magnitude.

Modified Mercalli Scale
The Modified Mercalli Scale is the ranking system used to measure seismic intensity. It is composed of 12 increasing levels of intensity that range from imperceptible shaking to catastrophic destruction.  It does not have a mathematical basis; it is based on observed effects.

Richter Scale
The Richter Scale is a logarithmic scale used to express the total amount of energy released by an earthquake.  Its values range from 1 to 9 with each increase of 1 representing a 10-fold increase in energy. 

 

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