Earthquakes are some of the most devastating natural disasters in the world, causing millions in damages and claiming thousands of lives. Seismic activity causes tsunamis, and has even set off nuclear meltdowns. Earthquakes occur everywhere, but are most common (and most devastating) in coastal regions. Wherever they happen, they leave an indelible impact. Learn more about these world-shaking events.
An earthquake, the sudden and disruptive shaking of the earth, is a result of the Earth's tectonic plates moving. The crashing and grinding of the Earth's crust can have far-reaching consequences. Learn a bit more about the science behind earthquakes, how we measure them, and some of the most important historical examples.
A tsunami is a massive wave caused by an offshore earthquake. These walls of water can destroy coastal communities, and often account for a substantial majority of earthquake-related casualties. Tsunamis are most common in the Pacific due to the tectonic activity around the infamous Ring of Fire. The word is taken from the Japanese, as Japan has a long history of seismic disasters.
Due to their frequency and scope, Infoplease has compiled some annual information about earthquakes worldwide. The most dangerous earthquakes aren't necessarily the highest in magnitude or intensity. Poor emergency response systems, insufficient building codes, and infrastructural weaknesses contribute more to earthquake casualties than the quakes themselves. Compare the two sets of yearly statistics to see the difference between major earthquakes and deadly earthquakes.
Due to their frequency and scope, Infoplease has compiled some annual information about earthquakes worldwide. The earthquakes listed are only ones that were easily detectable to people in the affected area; quakes happen with great regularity but usually lack intensity. Compare the two sets of yearly statistics to see the difference between major earthquakes and deadly earthquakes.