Most seismologists assume that following a major earthquake and its aftershocks, the fault (a break in Earth’s crust where pressure can trigger an earthquake) will remain quiet until stresses have time to rebuild, typically over hundreds or thousands of years. Recent evidence of subtle interactions between earthquakes may overturn this assumption, however. According to the stress triggering hypothesis, faults are unexpectedly responsive to subtle stresses they acquire as neighboring faults shift. Rather than simply dissipating, stress relieved during an earthquake travels along the fault, concentrating in sites nearby; even the smallest additional stresses may then trigger another quake along the fault or on a nearby fault. Although scientists have long viewed such subtle interactions as nonexistent, the hypothesis has explained the location and frequency of earthquakes following several destructive quakes in California, Japan, and Turkey.
1. According to the passage, which of the following is an assumption that may be invalidated by recent seismological evidence?
A. Earthquakes are caused by stresses building up in faults within Earth’s crust.
B. Most major earthquakes can be predicted with reasonable accuracy.
C. Faults are highly responsive to even minor stresses in neighboring faults.
D. Most major earthquakes are followed by predictable aftershocks.
E. A fault that has resulted in a major earthquake becomes quiet for a long period.
For the following question, consider each of the choices separately and select all that apply.
2. The passage suggests that most seismologists believe which of the following about fault stresses?
A. They are dissipated when they result in an earthquake.
B. They are transferred between neighboring faults.
C. They will not cause a major earthquake along the same fault in the space of a few years.
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