When the Earth Shakes- page 435


This article about the causes of earthquakes begins with an example of the effects of a quake. In 1964, a fierce earthquake shook most of Alaska, causing severe damage and dramatic changes in the state's topography: The ocean floor rose, a peninsula rose and a mountain split apart.
What causes such catastrophes? The planet is composed of layers of rock, much of it under intense pressure. When the strain becomes too great, the rock shifts or snaps. Energy from the shifting or snapping rock travels in waves. Waves traveling in the air produce the rumbling sound of the quake, but the waves on the earth's surface are more destructive, as the effects of the Alaska quake, and many others, demonstrate.


1. Of the events relating to the earthquake described in "When the Earth Shakes," the one that happens first is people hearing a rumbling sound.
2. One of the causes of earthquakes is stress on the inner layers of the earth.
3. Patricia Lauber compares an earthquake to breaking a stick in half because the disrupted layers of the earth vibrate like the ends of a snapped twig.
4. Patricia Lauber's primary purpose in writing "When the Earth Shakes" is to show people how earthquakes occur.

Reading Skills:

1. The creation of water waves is an effect of an earthquake.
2. Air waves cause the rumbling noises that earthquakes sometimes produce.


Churning- shaking or stirring violently
Bluff- steep cliff
Particles- tiny pieces
Buckled- collapsed
Observatories- buildings equipped for scientific observation

Language Link: Formal and Informal English

Directions- Rewrite the sentences using formal English

1. Do you think the guys who worked in the harbor were freaked out after the big quake?----- Do you think the people who worked in the harbor were upset after the big earthquake?
2. The waterfront was totally wiped out.----The waterfront was destroyed.
3. I wonder if other countries chipped in?-----I wonder if other countries gave financial aid?
4. An earthquake can occur when the earth's crust busts.----An earthquake can occur when the earth's crust breaks.
5. I bet people whose homes were messed up needed a place to crash.-----I imagine people whose homes were damaged needed shelter.

Written Response

"When the Earth Shakes" has two main parts: a description of an actual earthquake and a scientific explanation of how earthquakes happen. How does each section help the reader learn about earthquakes? Write your answer on a separate sheet of paper. Support your ideas with at least two details from the essay.

Responses should:
1. demonstrate understanding of the prompt
2. discuss both parts of the essay
3. point out how the description of the Anchorage quake accomplishes at least one of the following: demonstrates the destructive power of earthquakes; gives the reader a strong mental image of earthquakes; helps readers understand what experiencing an earthquake might be like; shows what actually can happen during and earthquake; gives a historical context to the essay; catches the reader's interest
4. point out how the scientific explanation accomplishes at least one of the following: teaches readers exactly how earthquakes occur; gives clear examples to convey information; shows how earthquakes are part of natural forces of the earth
5. support their ideas with at least two references to details in the essay; such as
-any of the details from the Anchorage quake
-any of the examples from the scientific explaination
-any part of the scientific explanation