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Quake blocker.

The main ingredient in baby powder could be a natural earthquake blocker. The substance is talc, the softest known mineral.

Earthquakes occur along faults, or huge cracks in Earth's outer rock layer. The rocks on either side of a fault move slowly past one another. But the surface of the fault is rough like sandpaper. Sometimes the rocks stick together. When the rocks break flee, an earthquake occurs.

Not every fault regularly experiences this quake-causing motion. Scientists studied a part of the San Andreas Fault in California that doesn't normally experience earthquakes. They found talc in the area around this part of the fault. The researchers believe that the soft talc may smooth the rough edges along the fault surface. As a result, the rocks can continually slide past one another instead of sticking together and breaking free in ground-shaking quakes.

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Title Annotation:EARTH SCIENCE
Publication:SuperScience
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Jan 1, 2008
Words:143
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