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

'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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Major 7.3-Magnitude Earthquake Aftershock Hits Nepal
A 7.3-magnitude aftershock struck Nepal on May 12, 2015.
May 12th, 2015
A 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal this morning (May 12), toppling buildings and killing at least a dozen people.
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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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Weak Underbelly Makes US Capital Vulnerable to Earthquakes
virginia earthquake
May 5th, 2015
The nation's capital sits on shaky ground that jiggles like pudding when earthquakes rattle the East Coast.
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Mount Everest Shrank As Nepal Quake Lifted Kathmandu
Nepal InSAR
April 29th, 2015
The first good satellite view of Nepal's deadly earthquake could explain why damage in the city was so severe.
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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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Satellite Photos Aiding Nepal Earthquake Recovery Efforts
Nepal Light Emissions Decrease After Earthquake
May 7th, 2015
Scientists at space agencies across the world are using satellite images and other technologies to aid those affected by Nepal's earthquake.
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If Earthquakes Regularly Rend the Earth, Why Does Preparation Lag? (Op-Ed)
earthquakes, earthquake warnings
May 4th, 2015
When disasters like the Nepal earthquake strike, seemingly out of the blue, one can’t help but feel anguish at the mismatch between the capacity of human memory and the tenacity of denial.
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