Difference Between Earthquake and Tremor

Earthquake vs Tremor

A shaking or vibrating movement of the earth is known as tremor. We say an area felt tremors during an earthquake. Tremors are also felt by people when they suffer from ailments, when they are running high temperature and have gone weak. However, it is in the use of trembling of earth that people confuse between a tremor and an earthquake. In general, both earthquakes and tremors signify the same trembling of the earth, but if one deeply looks into, there is a difference between the two, which will be highlighted, in this article.

If you happen to live in a seismically active and dangerous zone where tremors and earthquakes are common, people use the word tremor when the intensity of the earthquake is smaller and the effects are limited to trembling and shaking of the earth. The word earthquake is used when the intensity of the seismic activity is high, and there is considerable damage of property and lives.

In general, trembling of the earth takes place before earthquake strikes an area. People who live in the danger zone anticipate the danger with these tremors. The magnitude of earthquakes is measured on Richter scale while its intensity is measured on Mercalli scale. A tremor is hardly felt when an earthquake of magnitude 3 or lower strikes. It is when the magnitude becomes above 8 that earthquakes cause much damage to life and property. The recent earthquake that occurred in Japan was of magnitude 9, and history is replete with scores of instances when earthquakes of magnitude 9 or even more have struck at different parts of the world and left behind a trail of destruction. When the epicenter of an earthquake is deep inside the earth, the destruction over earth’s surface is much less than when this epicenter is at a shallow depth. In plains, earthquakes result in shaking and displacement of earth while, in mountainous areas, earthquakes cause landslides, and even trigger volcanic activities. When the epicenter of an earthquake is under the seabed, it sometimes results in massive waves that travel at terrific velocity and cause incalculable damage in habitations along the shore.

What is the difference between Earthquake and Tremor?

• Tremor is the shaking or trembling of the surface of the earth before an earthquake strikes, though it is common to talk about a tremor and an earthquake in synonymous terms.

• At some places, tremors are classified as earthquakes of smaller magnitude.

• Tremors take place before an earthquake and forewarn about an impending earthquake that may cause much damage.

• Earthquakes can trigger landslides in mountainous regions and even tsunamis when the epicenter of an earthquake is below the seabed.

  • Michelle

    “It is when the magnitude becomes above 8 that earthquakes cause much damage to life and property.” What an incredibly incorrect statement. Countless deaths and devastating destruction often happens with magnitudes between 6 and 7. Example: Northridge Earthquake was a 6.8 which caused 57 deaths and $49 billion in damage. Another Example: Sylmar Earthquake was a 6.5 which caused 65 deaths and $500 million in damage (a huge $ number for 1971).