What Happens During an Earthquake?


Living through an earthquake can be one of the most terrifying experiences that a person can go through. In no other situation are you at the true mercy of mother nature which can strike with lethal force at any time or any place. There are plenty of evacuation warnings for hurricanes, snowstorms and other destructive but predictable weather phenomena as they can be measured and monitored. An earthquake can strike without warning which means that knowing what happens during an earthquake is essential so that you can start to prepare.



What is an earthquake?

To fully understand what happens during an earthquake, it’s essential to understand what’s going on miles underneath your feet. British Columbia sits on the western edge of the North American tectonic plate, an enormous expanse of rock that floats on the magma in the center of the Earth. It touches the smaller Juan de Fuca plate, and they are constantly pushing past each other. The sheer size and weight of these plates means that they don’t move smoothly (think about trying to slide two pieces of coarse sandpaper against each other), so when they do move, it feels like a slip to a new resting position. This slip creates a massive energy shift which radiates up to the crust, where British Columbia lies and it is that massive burst of energy which causes the ground to shake.



What happens during an earthquake?

Unlike any other natural phenomena, there is no indication that an initial earthquake is about strike. The first thing that you’ll know about it is the earthquake itself. A smaller earthquake will last a couple of seconds, but a stronger, and more deadly, earthquake could last for 30 seconds or more. During this time, the ground will move up and down, possibly cracking and definitely destroying anything that is built or standing on top of the affected crust. The closer you are to the epicenter, the stronger these vibrations and movements will be.


Once the original earthquake is over, it doesn’t mean that danger is done. Smaller aftershocks can often happen in the minutes straight after the first earthquakes, and indeed they can still occur, admittedly with less impact and strength, over the next few days and weeks as the tectonic plates settle into their new position. Part of any earthquake safety training will talk about how long to keep in place for after an earthquake to avoid putting yourself in danger during an aftershock.





What does an earthquake feel like?

It’s hard to truly describe what an earthquake feels like, and this is a problem for many British Columbia residents. Not knowing what happens during an earthquake and what it feels like means that people are tempted not to take the risk of living on a tectonic fault line seriously. Fortunately, QuakeCottage provides a unique opportunity for everyone to fully experience what an earthquake feels like.


QuakeCottage is a mobile earthquake simulator that is designed to provide a short insight about what happens during a quake. It serves both the general public and businesses, and generates up to the same force as an 8.0 earthquake. This is what to expect during a “ride” on the QuakeCottage earthquake simulator:

  • After you’ve got yourself buckled up, a sudden jolt that feels almost like a car crashing into the room will rock the simulated home and laboratory setting.

  • The initial jolt is just a prelude for the violent shaking that will rock your seat for around 20 seconds so that you truly experience the fear and shock that comes with a major earthquake. You’ll be pleased that you wearing a seat belt as you wouldn’t be able to stand up during the shaking.

  • Finally, the shaking settles down, but they always include one final “aftershock” at the end of the presentation as a cautionary tale about not getting out from your safe place immediately after an earthquake.


The amazing thing that you’ll notice when you’re inside in the QuakeCottage earthquake simulator is that nothing falls off the walls or slides off the counter tops. This is because everything is tied down and secured using Safe-T-Proof seismic fasteners. These are the industry leaders, both easy to install and super strong, as you’ll see when the QuakeCottage really gets going.




Who should use QuakeCottage?

In short, everyone! (Except for those with back problems, frail bones, etc.) The biggest source of danger surrounding earthquakes is their unpredictability. However, you know that living in British Columbia, there is a high likelihood of an earthquake striking somewhere near you, and the possibility that it might be a major disaster event. This is why undertaking earthquake safety training is essential, and you should make sure that a visit from QuakeCottage is part of this process. You should definitely consider booking QuakeCottage if you fall into one of these categories:

  • Community event organizer – whether it’s the local fair, firefighter’s fundraiser or town yard sale, QuakeCottage will provide essential earthquake safety training and information to your attendees.

  • Multiple occupancy building owner – if you own or rent spaces like an apartment block, office tower or shopping mall, having QuakeCottage provide earthquake simulator experiences for all your users will allow you to create an common language action plan, as well as to devise some earthquake safety kits that are strategically located throughout your buildings.

  • School administrators – while every school in British Columbia will have policies and practices in place for what to do in the event of an earthquake, exposing students and staff to what happens during an earthquake will help them to take further trainings seriously. Students can sometimes think of it as a fairground ride, so it needs to be part of an extended earthquake safety program to help them understand what they need to do during an earthquake.


So while it’s easy to know what happens during an earthquake from a scientific viewpoint, the only way that you can truly understand what it’s going to be like during an earthquake is to book QuakeCottage to come and help you experience and prepare the worst that mother nature can throw at us.



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