Earthquake epicenters occur mostly along tectonic plate boundaries, especially on the Pacific Ring of Fire.
Global plate tectonic movement

An earthquake – also called a quake, tremor, or temblor – is the shaking of the Earth's surface resulting from a sudden release of energy in the lithosphere that creates seismic waves. Earthquakes can range in intensity, from those so weak they cannot be felt, to those violent enough to propel objects and people into the air, damage critical infrastructure, and wreak destruction across entire cities. The seismic activity of an area is the frequency, type, and size of earthquakes experienced over a particular time. The seismicity at a particular location in the Earth is the average rate of seismic energy release per unit volume.

In its most general sense, the word earthquake is used to describe any seismic event that generates seismic waves. Earthquakes can occur naturally or be induced by human activities, such as mining, fracking, and nuclear tests. The initial point of rupture is called the hypocenter or focus, while the ground level directly above it is the epicenter. Earthquakes are primarily caused by geological faults, but also by volcanic activity, landslides, and other seismic events. The frequency, type, and size of earthquakes in an area define its seismic activity, reflecting the average rate of seismic energy release.

Significant historical earthquakes include the 1556 Shaanxi earthquake in China, with over 830,000 fatalities, and the 1960 Valdivia earthquake in Chile, the largest ever recorded at 9.5 magnitude. Earthquakes result in various effects, such as ground shaking and soil liquefaction, leading to significant damage and loss of life. When the epicenter of a large earthquake is located offshore, the seabed may be displaced sufficiently to cause a tsunami. Earthquakes can trigger landslides. Earthquakes' occurrence is influenced by tectonic movements along faults, including normal, reverse (thrust), and strike-slip faults, with energy release and rupture dynamics governed by the elastic-rebound theory.

Efforts to manage earthquake risks involve prediction, forecasting, and preparedness, including seismic retrofitting and earthquake engineering to design structures that withstand shaking. The cultural impact of earthquakes spans myths, religious beliefs, and modern media, reflecting their profound influence on human societies. Similar seismic phenomena, known as marsquakes and moonquakes, have been observed on other celestial bodies, indicating the universality of such events beyond Earth.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia · View on Wikipedia

Developed by Nelliwinne