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15 Interesting Facts about Earthquakes

15 Interesting Facts about Earthquakes

Want to know more about Earthquakes? Here are 15 Interesting Facts about Earthquakes that I bet you didn’t know before reading this!

It’s one of the most powerful events caused by Mother Nature, and it can destroy cities, roads and cause buildings to collapse. Earthquakes can be devastating and be very dangerous. 

That’s why it’s a good idea to learn more about them, so you know what to do as well as the main cause of an Earthquake. 

Earthquakes have killed at least 13 million in the past 4000 years

These days, buildings are made to endure the forces of a quake, but not all societies have rebuilt their buildings, and even though they are supposedly safe, you can never be 100% sure. 

Warnings have also become a lot more frequent, and people living in areas with a lot of earthquakes usually have warning systems in their cellphones, etc. But that’s not always enough, and sometimes it will still claim lives when the ground starts to shake. 

The most deadly earthquake ever recorded was one in central China in the 1800s, when more than 800,000 people lost their lives. Scientists estimate that more than 13 million people have lost their lives in the past 4000 years.

Most Earthquakes occur in the “Ring of Fire”

The Ring of Fire is a major area in the Pacific Ocean, and it’s the most geologically active area in the world. About 90% of all earthquakes in the world takes place here.

In 2018, more than 70 earthquakes occurred in the Ring of Fire in 2018, which sparked fear that “the big one” could happen. 

Ring of Fire

Photo: Shutterstock

The strongest earthquake ever recorded had a magnitude of 9,5

Below are the strongest earthquakes since 1900. Experiencing an earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0 or higher is unlikely, but they happen from time to time. 

The strongest earthquake ever recorded happened in 1960 in Chile, near the city of Valdivia. It caused massive destruction and deaths with a staggering magnitude of 9,5 on the Richter-scale. 

Valdivia, Chile19609.5
Prince William Sound, Alaska19649.2
Sumatra, Indonesia20049.1
Sendai, Japan20119.0
Kamchatka, Russia19529.0

Seismometers are used to measure the magnitude of earthquakes

It was John Milne who invented the seismometer in 1880, and that’s the instrument used today, which creates seismographs showing the ground motions. 


Photo: Shutterstock

Earthquake Magnitude Scale

As you have learned, it is common to measure the magnitude via the Richter-scale which goes from 0 to 10. But if you’re not a seismologist, those numbers might not be of much help, other than that 9 or 10 would be a very bad earthquake. 

In the photo below you can see what to expect at each magnitude. You can generally start feeling them around 4 or 5 in magnitude, and these could cause some damage, but most buildings are fine up to 6 in magnitude. 

If an earthquake of 7 or higher hits your area, there will likely be much destruction, and it could potentially lead to deaths of thousands of people as well. If you’re traveling to a country which is known to experience many earthquakes, make sure that you know the procedures for the specific country. 

Earthquake facts

Photo: Shutterstock

5 x Random facts about Earthquakes

  • The longest recorded earthquake lasted for 10 minutes
  • An average earthquake lasts around a minute
  • There are at least 500,000 earthquakes per year
  • An earthquake under the ocean can cause tsunamis
  • There are at least one earthquake per year with a magnitude of 8,0 or higher on average
Earthquake damage

Photo: Shutterstock

5 x Earthquake facts for kids

  • Charles Richter was an American scientist who invented the Richter scale (1935)
  • The earliest recorded earthquake was in China, 1831 B.C
  • Most earthquakes occur at depths of less than 80 km (50 miles) from the Earth’s surface
  • The Pacific Ring of Fire is the most geologically active region of Earth
  • Earthquakes occur as a result of moving tectonic plates. The main cause is when the pressure from two pushing rocks become too much, and one breaks.

General facts about Earthquakes

Here is some more general information and how to stay safe, which can be a great addition to these facts about earthquakes. 

  • The largest earthquake ever recorded: 1960, Chile – 9,5 magnitude
  • Deadliest earthquake: 1556 in Central China. Approximately 830,000 people died
  • Earthquakes per year in the world: 500,000

What Causes an Earthquake?

The tectonic plates are constantly moving and they get stuck while pushing against other tectonic plates. A pressure is built up when the rocks are pushing against each other underground, and when the pressure gets too much, one of them will break and give way for the other. 

When this happens, the tectonic plates will move and a massive amount of energy is released, which is causing the ground to shake and move. It continues until the tectonic plates get stuck again, and will occur once the fault breaks again. 

It’s a constant battle and that is why countries who are located along the tectonic plates will experience more earthquakes than countries which are further away. 

Most Earthquake-prone countries

There are many countries who experience earthquakes on a fairly regular basis. The largest ever recorded took place in Chile, near Valdivia.

In Japan, there are at least 1500 earthquakes per year, which makes out to about 2-3 per day. Luckily, most of them are smaller. Below are some of the countries that are most prone to earthquakes in the world!

  • Japan
  • Nepal
  • India
  • Ecuador
  • Philippines
  • Pakistan
  • El Salvador
  • Mexico 
  • Turkey
  • Indonesia
Facts about earthquake safety

Photo: Shutterstock

How to stay safe during earthquakes

Follow these safety tips if a quake is happening: 

  • Drop down, take cover and take cover under a table or desk
  • Protect yourself with pillows or mattresses
  • Stay away from furniture that can fall down
  • Stay away from windows
  • If you’re outdoors, stay away from buildings, powerlines or trees
  • If you’re driving, slow down your speed at stay when you’re in a clear area

Did you know any of these facts about Earthquakes before reading this? Leave a comment below!