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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Latest Articles

Oklahoma's Surge in Earthquakes Due to Oil Production
A 2011 magnitude-5.6 quake near Prague, Okla., buckled U.S. Highway 62.
June 18th, 2015
Oklahoma is not known for its earthquakes, but in recent years episodes of ground shaking have surged, with the U.S. Geological Survey releasing a rare warning last May saying the risk of a damaging earthquake in Oklahoma had significantly increased.
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Seismic Risk? Research Addresses Dangers of Older Concrete Buildings in U.S.
napa earthquake, damage
June 13th, 2015
Old concrete is not known for standing up to earthquakes, but retrofits made with carbon fiber and shape memory alloy may change that assumption.
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'Crazy Craters' Found in Swiss Lake
crazy crater
May 19th, 2015
Four giant craters were discovered on the floor of Switzerland's Lake Neuchâtel.
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Giant 'Earth Stethoscope' Spies on Planet's Wonky Behavior
Chelyabinsk Meteor Soars
June 17th, 2015
The planet is crawling with tiny spies: Hidden undersea microphones, instrument-clad satellites and infrared cameras are listening, watching and smelling all the action on planet Earth, from a migrating whale to a meteor crash.
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Tiny 'Crystal Cushion' Drives Earthquakes
Created with NASA data, this image shows a segment of the San Andreas Fault in California, a tectonic boundary between the North American and Pacific plates.
May 19th, 2015
Earthquakes are some of the largest-scale and most-destructive events on the planet, involving plates of the Earth's crust hundreds of miles across. But new research shows that the physics of Lilliputians govern this shuddering of giants.
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After Nepal Earthquake, Radar Saves Lives in a Heartbeat
Nepal earthquake
May 8th, 2015
Radar waves helped search and rescue teams find and save four people trapped in collapsed buildings after the Nepal earthquake.
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Mount Everest Moves 1 Inch After Earthquake
image of the Himalayas, including Mount Everest, taken from the International Space Station.
June 16th, 2015
The incredible energy unleashed by the magnitude-7.8 earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25 moved Mount Everest, the world's tallest peak, more than an inch to the southwest.
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Continental Collision Could Trigger California Tsunami
carlifornia borderlands area
June 1st, 2015
A network of undersea faults off the coast of Southern California could produce huge quakes that could send tsunami waves crashing into Los Angeles, new research suggests.
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7.3-Magnitude Aftershock: Landslides Pose New Threat to Nepal
May 12th, 2015
The powerful aftershock that struck Nepal today (May 12) could trigger deadly landslides on slopes already weakened by the April 25 earthquake, experts said.
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