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What happens?

Shows major features in an earthquake

Earthquakes are natural geological events that cause the earth’s surface to shake or tremble. They occur due to a rapid release of energy in the earth’s crust, resulting in seismic waves that travel through the earth. Rocks shatter or slip when the cumulative tension along geological faults or plate borders exceeds their capacity to withstand it. This quick energy release produces seismic waves radiating outward from the fault or focal point and shocking the earth. Earthquakes can cause landslides, tsunamis, and liquefaction of soil and avalanches.

Tectonic plate movements, human activities or volcanic activity can cause earthquakes. The movement of tectonic plates causes the majority of earthquakes. When these large sections of the earth’s crust collide (convergent boundary), they can either move apart (divergent boundary) or glide past each other (transform boundary). The tension and strain accumulating at these plate borders might eventually lead to an earthquake if released unexpectedly. Earthquakes can also be associated with volcanic activity as magma flow under the earth’s surface can generate pressure, resulting in volcanic earthquakes. Lastly, human activities such as mining, reservoir-induced seismicity (due to the filling of massive reservoirs), and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) cause certain earthquakes.

Recent Earthquakes

Shows the epicenter of the Morocco earthquake near the city of Oukaïmedene in the High Atlas Mountains.

Earthquakes have affected so many nations over the years. Morocco is one of the recently affected nations. On the 8th of September, 2023, Morocco was hit by an earthquake of magnitude 6.8. The Atlas Mountains, located southwest of Marakkesh, were the earthquake’s epicenter. The earthquake caused so much destruction and led to the death of over 2900 people and left others injured.

Japan was recently hit by a powerful earthquake of a magnitude of 5.5. The earthquake, just like the one in Morocco, struck on the 8th of September, 2023. Apart from the recent cases of Morocco and Japan, Kenya and Nepal have also fallen victim to the wrath of earthquakes. Nine hundred forty-six earthquakes have struck Nepal in the past decade, with a magnitude of 4 and above.

Kenya has been hit by 25 earthquakes over the past ten years. The earthquakes had a magnitude of 4 and above and struck about 300 kilometres within the country. These are just but a few examples of earthquakes.

Mitigating Earthquakes

Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid or regulate earthquakes but there are a number of things that can be done to mitigate the damage caused by earthquakes, including:

A view of a village destroyed by the earthquake, near Adassil, Morocco. Photo courtesy
  • Building earthquake-resistant structures: Buildings that are designed to withstand the shaking of an earthquake are less likely to collapse or be damaged.
  • Retrofitting existing buildings: Older buildings that were not designed to withstand earthquakes can be retrofitted with new features to make them more resistant to shaking.
  • Early warning systems: Early warning systems can detect earthquakes and send out alerts to people in the affected area, giving them time to take shelter or evacuate.
  • Education and preparedness: People can be educated about earthquakes and how to prepare for them. This includes knowing what to do during an earthquake, such as dropping to the ground, taking cover under a sturdy object, and staying away from windows and glass.

Read more about geological events on our website

Read more about the Morocco 2023 earthquake

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