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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2011 Japan Tsunami Unleashed Ozone-Destroying Chemicals
An aerial view of damage to Sukuiso, Japan, a week after the earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastated the area in March, 2011.
April 3rd, 2015
The 2011 Japan tsunami released thousands of tons of ozone-destroying chemicals and greenhouse gases into the air.
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More Big Earthquakes Coming to California, Forecast Says
earthquake forecast
March 11th, 2015
A new view of California's earthquake risk slightly raises the likelihood of big earthquakes in the Golden State, but lowers the chance that people in some regions will feel shaking from smaller magnitude-6.7 quakes.
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Jeepers! New Look at 'Creeping' San Andreas Fault
san andreas fault
January 13th, 2015
A small part of the San Andreas Fault thought to quietly slide without shaking its neighbors may be capable of magnitude-6 earthquakes, a new study finds.
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Puzzling Layer of 'Stiff' Rock May Lurk Deep Inside Earth
Earth's Composition
March 24th, 2015
A new layer of stiff rock may unexpectedly exist deep inside Earth, researchers say.
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Hidden Faults Explain Earthquakes in Fracking Zones
February 12th, 2015
Two new studies explain why some regions of the country are rattling more than others as oil and gas production rises.
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Smart Defense: NFL Fans Will Help Test Earthquake Warning System
Seattle Seahawks CenturyLink Field
January 10th, 2015
Sports will further science this playoff season, as seismologists monitor the home stadium of the Seattle Seahawks during games in order to test a nascent earthquake early-warning system.
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Seismic Waves Show Which Sport's Fans Rock Hardest
Infrasound Instruments by Pit Row
December 23rd, 2014
Football, NASCAR and their rowdy, roaring crowds were pitted in a head-to-head battle this year to see which sport hits highest on the seismic charts.
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Understanding Earth by Eavesdropping on Urban Noise
Oil field
January 14th, 2015
Researchers are tuning in to urban seismic noise, the man-made signals from human activity, to view geologic structures and track the rhythms of cities.
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Fracking Led to Ohio Earthquakes
drilling tower
January 5th, 2015
A hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, well in Ohio triggered scores of small earthquakes in March 2014, including one large enough to be felt in nearby towns.
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