Waves Vibrations and Oscillations

How are shock waves produced by an earthquake?



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Preceding an earthquake, stresses accumulate in the earth's crust over time, causing energy to be stored in the form of elastic strain (like that in a compressed spring). Ultimately this stress exceeds the shear strength of the crust in the fault zone causing a sudden brittle failure or rupture. This in turn causes movement and a sudden release of the stored elastic strain energy in the form of seismic waves (or shock waves).