An earthquake occurs when there is a sudden release of energy that has been built up in an area in the Earth's crust or upper mantle, like plate boundaries, where convergence, divergence and transform movements are found. Plate boundaries are zones of instability and movement, therefore, earthquakes are common along these lines of division.
All types of plate movements, diverging, converging and transforming, causes earthquakes. This is because, when two plates undergo such movements which are not smooth, the rocks in them get 'stuck' due to the tremendous friction. However, the magma still continues to drag and pull these two plates. A lot of stress builds up at this zones, and finally, it causes the rocks to jerk themselves to be free of this position. This jerking movement can range from a several centimetres to a few metres, and results in the release of the energy stored when they were in their locked position. This causes seismic waves which makes the ground vibrate a little or ver violently, depending on the magnitude, causing an earthquake.
Earthquakes have much effects on humans. Read more about it at Earthquakes And Us
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