Earthquakes are the result of plate tectonics, or shifting plates in the crust of Earth, and quakes occur when the frictional stress of gliding plate boundaries builds and causes failure at a fault line. In an earthquake, elastic strain energy is released and waves radiate, shaking the ground. Scientists can predict where major temblors might occur in a general sense, but research does not yet allow forecasts for specific locations or accurate predictions of timing. Major earthquakes, some generating tsunamis, have leveled entire cities and affected whole countries. Relatively minor earthquakes can also be induced, or caused by human activity, including extraction of minerals from Earth and the collapse of large buildings.
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'Nature's Fury': NYC Exhibit Explores Science of Natural Disasters
Erupting volcano
November 13th, 2014
From the eruption that buried Pompeii in A.D. 79 to the superstorm that shut down New York City in 2012, natural disasters are an unavoidable part of life on Earth. Once thought to be the wrath of the gods, these formidable events now have widely accepted
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Small Islands Amplify Tsunami Flooding
November 5th, 2014
Small islands boost the power of tsunami waves, rather than absorbing their impact, a new study shows.
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Fracking Linked to More Ohio Earthquakes
Fracking well
October 14th, 2014
Another rare case of fracking-caused earthquakes has jolted Ohio.
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Nature's Fury: Gripping Images of Natural Disasters
Campo tornado (Oklahoma, 2010)
November 13th, 2014
From earthquakes to volcanic eruptions to hurricanes, natural disasters reveal the fearsome power of Mother Nature. Scientists are studying these phenomena to better understand them and find better ways to predict and prepare for them.
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25 Years After Loma Prieta, Earthquake Science Is Transformed
Loma Prieta earthquake
October 17th, 2014
Earthquake science has kept pace with San Francisco's tremendous transformation since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
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Earthquake Forecast: 4 California Faults Are Ready to Rupture
San Francisco earthquake faults
October 13th, 2014
Four San Francisco Bay Area faults have built up enough seismic strain to unleash destructive earthquakes.
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Strong 6.2-Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Alaska
Sept. 25 Alaska earthquake
September 25th, 2014
An earthquake of magnitude 6.2 shook southern Alaska Thursday (Sept. 25), according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
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L'Aquila Earthquake Scientists Win Manslaughter Appeal
The destruction from the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake in Italy seen here in the nearby village of Casentino.
November 11th, 2014
Italian scientists convicted of manslaughter in connection with the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake won their appeal on Monday (Nov. 10).
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New Zealand's Earthquake Deep Drilling Project Underway
New Zealand from space.
October 6th, 2014
A deep-drilling project into one of the world's most dangerous earthquake faults kicked off Saturday (Oct. 4) on New Zealand's South Island.
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