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

'MyShake' App Turns Your Smartphone into Earthquake Detector
February 12th, 2016
Seismologists and app developers are shaking things up with a new app that transforms smartphones into personal earthquake detectors.
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San Andreas May Be a 'Zipper' Fault
This segment of the San Andreas Fault, in Palmdale, California, lies about 60 miles (100 km) northwest of Los Angeles. The image was captured from the Space Shuttle Endeavor on Feb. 11, 2000.
December 21st, 2015
The San Andreas and Garlock faults, as well as other well-known and confounding faults around the world, may in fact be "zipper" faults, new research suggests.
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The Odds of Dying
tornado lightning disaster
February 9th, 2016
There are many ways to go, but what are the odds, really?
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F-35 Fighter Jet Likely Caused Sonic Booms That Rocked New Jersey
New Jersey Sonic Booms Map
January 29th, 2016
The sonic booms that rattled residents of New Jersey up to Long Island, New York, yesterday may have been the result of flight testing of fighter jets at the Naval Air Station in Patuxent River, Maryland.
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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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Mysterious Sonic Boom Reported Over New Jersey
New Jersey Sonic Booms Map
January 28th, 2016
The boom was followed by nine others along the Eastern Seaboard from New Jersey to Long Island, New York. The cause of the booms remains elusive, with NASA, a Naval airbase and the Federal Aviation Authority saying they aren't responsible.
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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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