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

Earthquakes Could Trigger Massive Supervolcano Eruptions, Study Suggests
Yellowstone Supervolcano Caldera
November 13th, 2015
Supervolcanoes, such as the one dormant under Yellowstone National Park, may erupt when cracks form in the roofs of the chambers holding their molten rock, according to a new study.
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Many Injuries in California's 2014 Quake Occurred During Cleanup
napa earthquake, damage
September 10th, 2015
Many of the people who were injured from the 6.0-magnitude earthquake in Napa, California, last year were actually hurt during the cleanup effort, after the quake was over, according to a new study.
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Medieval Earthquake Moved River 12 Miles
Po River Map
August 14th, 2015
A 1570 earthquake in Italy shifted the Po River's right bank upward by several inches, forcing the river to change course.
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Rare Earthquake Trio Shakes Phoenix: What Happened?
A map of the 4.1-magnitude earthquake that struck Black Canyon City, Arizona, on Nov. 1.
November 3rd, 2015
The stretching of the Earth's crust in a seismically transitional region likely caused the three quakes that struck Phoenix, Arizona, Sunday night. Such temblors are relatively uncommon in the state.
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California Faces Threat of Earthquake-Triggered Tsunamis
Regional Peak Tsunami Map
September 6th, 2015
Californians may be used to hearing about the threat of potentially deadly earthquakes, but a new study finds that quake-triggered tsunamis pose a greater risk to Southern California than previously thought.
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Why 10,000-Year-Old Gravity-Defying Rocks Haven't Toppled
August 7th, 2015
Giant rocks stacked in seemingly gravity-defying poses could indicate that earthquakes on the San Andreas Fault can jump to another major fault in Southern California.
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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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Record-Breaking 408 Earthquakes Hit Bay Area City Over Past 2 Weeks
San Ramon Earthquake Swarm
October 27th, 2015
A record-breaking number of small earthquakes has hit San Ramon, California, over the past two weeks.
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Earth's Moving Mantle Leads to Earthquakes in Unusual Places
Yellowstone National Park
August 28th, 2015
It has long been a mystery why some earthquakes strike towns in seemingly earthquake-proof regions, but researchers now have a potential explanation for why temblors sometimes rattle where they're not expected.
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Nepal Quake Could Have Been Much Deadlier, Scientists Say
The initial USGS shake map of the Nepal earthquake, which predicted extreme shaking in Kathmandu, was later revised to reflect less shaking.
August 6th, 2015
The earthquake that struck Nepal in April shook in a way that spared many small buildings in the city but devastated those more than two stories high, a new study finds.
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