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.
Read More

Latest Articles

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.
Read More »
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.
Read More »
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.
Read More »
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.
Read More »
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.
Read More »
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.
Read More »
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.
Read More »
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.
Read More »
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.
Read More »